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Pretending Not to Love 9/11 at the RNC


So many Republicans, so many lies. It’s hard to keep up with the deceptions of Bush, Rove, Cheney, and company. You could write an entire book just about the Republicans’ false statements.

In fact, left-liberal journalist David Corn did precisely that last year, focusing just on the Liar-in Chief himself. Corn’s monograph was titled The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Art of Political Deception. Among the many misleading Bush statements that Corn held up to critical scrutiny were the following:

“I have been very candid about my past”

“I’m a uniter, not a divider”

“I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity” “[I am advancing] tax relief for everyone…while still reducing our national debt and funding important priorities” “[I think] the American people need to have an honest assessment of [energy] issues” “[I think] we must address the issue of global climate change” “[I think] we must uncover every detail and learn every lesson of September the 11th” “I first got to know Ken [Lay in 1994]” “I believe everybody should be held responsible for their own personal behavior” “Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraqi regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised” If I had more time and energy, I’d review Bush’s latest speeches and addresses and come up with at least 20 more presidential whoppers. Keeping up with the lies of the ruling Republicans’ top lying liar is a full time job.

Acknowledging that some lies are bigger than others, I’d like to focus briefly on three really big Nine-Eleven- related whoppers that will be repeatedly and loudly proclaimed at the 2004 Republican convention, which is being held in New York City for one reason: so that the Republicans can try to take advantage of the 2001 jetliner attacks. Bush can be expected to repeat each of these master deceptions before the week is done.

“Because They Hate Our Freedom”

The first really big lie will claim that we are in a life or death struggle with a terrorist enemy that hates us because of “who we are,” meaning of course the beacon and homeland of democracy, freedom, modernity and everything good in life. Leftists know that this line, trotted out on cue from day one of the new “war on terror” (9/12/01) is nonsense on numerous levels. Of special significance here, it misrepresents describes the real issue Islamist terrorists and much of the Muslim world have with the U.S.: American FOREIGN POLICY in the Middle East.

You do not, however, have to be a radical or even a liberal to know that Rove and Bush and the rest of their cabal are completely full of crap on this. Nobody has denounced the standard Bushcon “why they hate us” line with more gusto than the conservative Catholic CIA analyst and Middle Eastern area expert “Anonymous,” whose recently published book Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror (2004) argues that “the greatest danger for Americans confronting the radical Islamist threat is to believe – at the urging of US leaders – that Muslims attack us for what we are and what we think rather than for what we do. No Islamist leader,” Anonymous notes, “fomented jihad to destroy participatory democracy, the national association of credit unions, or coed universities.” What leading Islamists (including bin-Laden) and “a growing segment of the Islamic world” are really upset about are “specific U.S. policies and their attendant military, political, and economic implications.” These policies give no small credence to Osama bin-Laden’s clarion insistence that “Islam is under attack by America and its allies.” Convinced that Americans are endangered by the official Bush line, Anonymous has broken imperial ranks by acknowledging that current U.S. middle Eastern policy “has much the same characteristics as nineteenth-century European imperialism: military garrisons; economic penetration and control; support for [corrupt Arab] leaders, no matter how brutal and undemocratic, as long they obey the imperial power; and the exploitation and depletion of natural resources.” I don’t share Anonymous’ distinction between “who we are and what we do” – a nation cannot be a democracy and an empire at the same time – but he offers a useful antidote to big line number one from within the national security state.

There was nothing surprising about an attack by zealots of Arab background on Washington DC and New York City. The motives behind the attack had little if anything to do with the terrorists’ feeling about the nature of America’s internal society. What most bothered them about America was the United States’ external policy in and around the chief area of the perpetrators’ concern and ambition – the Middle East. In this the terrorists were not alone – Arabs of all sorts of political and theological persuasions have found much to loathe in American policy vis-à-vis the Middle East, including our support for a corrupt monarchy in viciously reactionary Saudi Arabia and our sponsorship of Israel’s bloody occupation and apartheid state.

If bin-Laden and his followers and supporters are driven by hatred of American freedom and democracy, why were they firmly on the side of the US in the late 1980s, when America enjoyed at least as much, if not more, domestic freedom and democracy than in the summer of 2001? And if bin-Laden and the rest are so angry at the internal freedom and democracy of “infidel” Western nations, why are Canada, Denmark, Holland, Sweden, New Zealand, and Switzerland (to name a few non-Islamic democratic states) right to be much less worried about major attacks from al Qaeda? Other “infidel” nations – those spared the terrorists’ vicious onslaught on the anything likes the scale of 9/11 – are hardly lacking in the democratic institutions of the sort presumably being extolled by George W. Bush. In fact, their democratic institutions were (and are) healthier and more developed in many ways than their American counterparts. What these nations lack, of course, is America’s terrorist record of destructive intervention and imperial domination in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Of course, nothing will prevent the talking Republican heads in Madison Square Garden from indulging in robotic repetition of their doctrinal “because they hate freedom” story line, which provides critical cover for the racist and imperial agenda that lay at the root of the “war on terrorism.” “We’re Making You and the World Safer”

The second really big Republican Convention Lie will maintain that the White House has acted responsibly to increase the security of Americans and the world and to roll back terrorism and advance democracy and freedom. This claim is blatantly false in ways that ZNet readers know quite well. Bush’s “response to 9/11″ – if that’s how we really want to phrase it and there are reasons not to, some quite dark – has been richly terrorist. It has sparked and fed Islamist terrorism, serving as a recruiting bonanza for al Qaeda and that organization’s allies and imitators. It has expanded authoritarianism and reaction abroad and increased inequality and repression at home. The invasion of Iraq especially has been a great gift to bin-Laden and his ilk, offering powerful evidence for their argument that the Muslim world is under imperial assault from Crusader America and its western allies. On Islamist-terrorist occurrences since 9/11, one can consult recent reports by the US State Department (forced earlier this year to recant initial claims that Islamist terrorism was on the wane) and the third chapter of Imperial Hubris, which reports on more than 70 separate terrorist actions carried out by Islamist forces since 9/11.

“We Hated 9/11″

The third big Republican Convention lie is an indirect one, collateral to lies one and two. It claims that Republicans think 9/11 was a regrettable national tragedy – a sad and tragic moment in American history. Again and again, Republican officials and speakers will speak in highly emotional terms about the horrible events of September 2001, making reference to the lives that were lost on the terrible day. Beneath this show, the dark reality is that Republican leadership and especially the White House foreign policy cabal was delighted by the carnage. For them the jetliner attacks were a great windfall, a coveted “opportunity” (Bush’s word and Condaleeza Rice’s too), a “blessing” (Rumsfeld)…the “new Pearl Harbor” that they craved and found enormously useful – by pre-arranged design, many think – for acting upon their underlying lust and longstanding schemes to expand empire and inequality at home and abroad. Fahrenheit Nine-Eleven rescued the Bush administration and provided cover under which imperial and corporate-plutocratic U.S. “elites” could act upon “post-Cold War” dreams of total global domination and – a marvelous plus for the masters – assault the remaining strands of the US social safety net. Bush and Co. can shed all the tears they want on the podium, but Nine-Eleven was their wet dream and they reacted with a racist and imperial ferocity that makes Americans and world people less secure today than ever.

New Yorkers, including many who rightly loathe arrogant, lying Fundamentalist dumb-asses like George W. Bush even under normal circumstances, are right to feel supremely offended that the party of Rove has chosen to exploit 9/11 yet again by staging their quadrennial monument to political bad faith and homegrown Orwellianism in the heart of the city that was most especially victimized by the events of that day. Wishing I could have made a trip from Chicago to join the actions in Manhattan, I raise an envious Second City glass to the RNC protestors in New York. May they make the Republicans long regret not holding their gathering in Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, or Houston. How about the Azores for 2008?

Paul Street ([email protected]) is the author of Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2004).

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