Monday, September 12, 2011

Post 9/11 Post

Paul Krugman
 I found it nearly impossible to comment on the 9/11 anniversary yesterday. Mostly, I didn't know what to make of my feelings. Paul Krugman, a thinker I admire, both as an economist and as a politics and policy commentator, didn't have nearly as much trouble deciding what he was going to say:
What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. The atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.
A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?
The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.
Krugman could have said it in a kinder, gentler way. He weighs in again today in response to the conservative firestorm that erupted because of his comments. Today, he's a bit gentler but not by much. Aside from complimenting Americans in the first two year after 9/11 for a mostly measured and tolerant response -- by non-politicians, he could have added -- he did remind us of how we were manipulated into a war we didn't need and that worked against our long-term interests. He also links to a thoughtful piece by WaPo's Greg Sargent.

I met Paul and got to spend a little time with him at Eschacon '08 in Philadelphia that was hosted by blogger Atrios of Eschaton, a must-read blog if there ever was one. Both Atrios and Krugman were clear from the start that we were dragged into war as a nation, not against our will but through manipulation and deception. It's well accepted now that this was so. It is one of the great crimes perpetrated against the best interests of our nation by as nefarious a crowd of stupid-or-evil-or-both people anyone could have cruelly conjured up.

I remember the red Eschacon '08 tee-shirt with a large DFH inside an oval on the front. Because I had read Atrios' blog for a few years, I knew that the DFH most certainly stood for the one group of Americans who, from the beginning, had it right about Iraq, that it was a war of choice we didn't need or shouldn't have wanted. These Americans were, of course, the Dirty Fucking Hippies.

Though I was once a true Hippie, I've evolved into the (mostly) responsible Baby Boomer I was destined to become. But I happily stand in solidarity with the current DFH's who had it right from the beginning. Courage and tenacity it took for Paul Krugman not to allow the sentimentality that overwhelmed yesterday -- I was swept up in it, too -- to cloud our memories.

Yes, we all regret what happened that day ten years ago. But that regret has been amplified a hundred-fold as Krugman's "fake heroes," Kerik, Guiliani, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, and so on, squandered the solidarity we shared with the world by behaving as badly as al-Qaeda hoped we would.

So, thanks, Paul, for waking up my voice. I'm with you on this one. Beyond the heroism of the first 9/11, whether that of New York's first responders or the magnificent passengers of Flight 93, when the dust of their righteous actions clears, what's left is just what you said: shame.

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