There’s a segment called “Who You Crapping” that plays occasionally on a local sports talk radio show in Chicago. During this segment, callers phone-in to rip some local sports or media personality for saying or doing something preposterous, ending their rant with the name of their target preceded by the phrase “who you crapping,” as in “who you crapping Sammy Sosa?”
Someone should call in somewhere and ask Dennis Hastert, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and third in line to the U.S. presidency, who he’s “crapping.”
Last Saturday, in DeKalb, Illinois, Hastert claimed that al Qaeda wants John F. Kerry in the White House. “I don’t have data or intelligence to tell me one thing or another,” Hastert said, but “I would think that they [al Qaeda that is] would be more apt to go for somebody who would file a lawsuit with the World Court or something rather than respond with troops.” “Respond,” that is, to a terror attack on the United States.
Hastert was asked directly by reporters “whether he believed al Qaeda could operate better with Kerry in the White House.” According to the Chicago Tribune, in a story bearing the title “Al Qaeda Called Threat,” Hastert replied, “that’s my opinion, yes” (Chicago Tribune, 19 September, 2004, sec. 1, p.12). A former high school wrestling coach and history teacher, Hastert told journalists that al Qaeda may be planning to use terrorism before the November election on the model of the Madrid train bombings, to sway opinion towards Kerry.
His comments came as DeKalb County Republicans received a fundraising visit from Dick Cheney, who recently said that a vote for Kerry is an invitation to another massive terror attack on US soil: vote for Bush or die.
Hastert’s statements are riddled with patent absurdities. There’s the false assumption that Kerry would be any less likely (for better or worse) to respond militarily to another 9/11. If anything, Kerry would be more prone to respond in such a fashion given his own imperial predispositions and the pseudo-macho panzy-bating the Chickenhawk US right routinely inflicts on Democrats.
There’s the silliness of the simple assumption that a terror attack would work on Kerry’s behalf. Such an attack would likely push more Americans to cower under the umbrella of the incumbent authoritarian “national security state.”
And it’s more than a little disingenuous – but exactly what you would expect – for the Rove Republicans to claim that terror works for the other guys when they’ve made scaring the Hell out of the American people with, well, terror the central theme of their post-9/11 campaign strategy.
Then there’s the curiously missing little matter of where and exactly how to “respond with troops.” Hastert’s heroes in the White House and Pentagon used 9/11 as a convenient pretext to undertake an imperialist, oil-driven takeover of a nation (Iraq) that had nothing to do with the jetliner attacks.
Hastert’s most significant “mistake” (quotes are required since truth is utterly irrelevant in Republican discourse) is assuming that al Qaeda doesn’t in fact want the Bush-Cheney junta back for a return engagement. Kerry (who has announced his intention to maintain the occupation of Iraq for years to come) can be counted on to largely serve their purposes, but Osama bin-Laden and his colleagues certainly give regular thanks to God for the “Crusader” Bush II administration’s specially provocative, transparently (to everyone but Americans) imperialist, and frankly racist assault on the Muslim world. The brutal, bungled, and illegal occupations of Afghanistan and (especially) Iraq have proven to be a recruiting bonanza for Islamic terror networks, providing rich evidence for bin-Laden’s notion that Muslim civilization is under vicious attack from the infidel west, led by the U.S. The US “response to 9/11″ has helped give rise to a significant overall increase in bloody actions carried out by those networks, which is what many mainstream US foreign policy thinkers warned would transpire from the US invasion of Iraq.
This is the judgment not just of leftist intellectuals but of the conservative Catholic CIA analyst and Middle East expert “Anonymous,” whose recent book Imperial Hubris: How the West is Losing the War on Terror (2004) documents the Bush administration’s dangerous role in fueling yet further the fires of Islamic “anti-Americanism.”
“Anonymous” should put down his favorite conservative authors (people like Bernard Lewis) and look at recent books on the post-9/11 “war on terrorism” by left Arab writers Gilbert Achcar and Tariq Ali. In “The Clash of Barbarisms” (Achcar) and “The Clash of Fundamentalisms” (Ali), we learn that team Bush and team bin-Laden are a perfect match. They both serve the others’ Orwellian need for a terrible external threat — a supremely Evil Other— to justify their shared lust for remorseless mass violence (including huge “collateral damage” casualties for noncombatants), rigid religious and political doctrine, and savage social hierarchy.
Who is Dennis Hastert “crapping?” The American people, whose capacity for informed and meaningful citizenship is severely challenged by a dominant corporate-state media that regularly conveys in shockingly banal and unalarmed terms the transparently false and propagandistic claims of quasi-fascist high-state demagogues like Bush and Cheney.
Meanwhile, if Osama sends in a big absentee terror ballot before the November election, it just might be because he knows that terror will help “re”-elect his wonderfully useful ally/enemy and fellow son of oil-related super-privilege George W. Bush.
Paul Street is a researcher, activist, and writer in Chicago, Illinois. He can be reached at [email protected]