Tempers are running very high. Journalists are sharpening their claws for a feeding frenzy. Nerves are frayed, egos bruised. People are defensive, laying blame, and fearful of losing their jobs. So I want to choose my words very carefully.
Cynthia McKinney is still an idiot.
In an Associated Press story Friday morning headlined, “McKinney feels vindicated over her criticism of Bush,” Ms. McKinney is quoted saying, “I am gratified that today there are many members of Congress who have come around to my way of thinking.”
Well, I want names. Seriously. Who are these “many members of Congress” who’ve come around to her “way of thinking?” We must get them the best doctors as soon as possible.
But, if it’s too late, if the bad clams they ate have so poisoned their minds that they actually think like McKinney, American citizens need to be informed.
So, if you happen to turn on MSNBC or CNN and see a representative saying, “See! Cynthia McKinney was right.” Jot his name down and pass it along to me. For I shall add it to the inglorious roster henceforth known as the McKinney List. And, from time to time, we shall call the roll of the sand-poundingly stupid and await for these double-digit SAT scorers to shout “Yo!” (which, no doubt, they will have to have spelled out phonetically on their palms to help them pronounce even this monosyllabic declaration correctly).
But first, let’s be both clear and fair. You do not qualify for the McKinney List simply by saying “Bush screwed up.” You do not cross the threshold of atavistic asininity simply by asserting, “the CIA could have stopped this” or “the FBI dropped the ball.” You do not even get your honorary McKinney child-safety scissors and pop-up briefing books simply by believing the Bush White House is “hiding something.”
No, in order to join the ranks of those who need to wear a proverbial helmet on the school bus, you must believe what Cynthia McKinney believes.
So, what does Cynthia McKinney believe?
In an interview last month, Ms. McKinney made it clear that she believes the Bush administration knowingly and specifically allowed the Sept. 11 attacks to occur because “Persons close to this administration are poised to make huge profits off America’s new war.”
My column on Ms. McKinney (“Representative Awful“) earned me a prominent place in the various chat rooms, bulletin boards, and listservs dedicated to the belief that any dots which can be connected in the fevered mind of someone who straps a copy of Catcher in the Rye to his forehead in order to keep out government radio signals, can also be connected in real life.
APOLOGY NOT REQUIRED
I’ve received scores of e-mails demanding to know whether I might apologize to Ms. McKinney for calling her, among other things, “dumber than rock salt and more repugnant than Yasser Arafat’s three-week-old underwear.”
My answer to that is, Si, cuándo llegue el día del juicio.
Let me explain. When the movie Wayne’s World was released in South America, a lot of the film’s American slang, idiom, and sarcasm didn’t translate well to a Spanish-speaking audience. So, the distributors adopted many of the phrases and expressions to the local vernacular in the dubbed version. A case in point: When Wayne exclaimed “Shyaaa! And monkeys might fly out of my butt!” they changed that to, “Yes, when Judgment Day comes,” or “Si, cuándo llegue el día del juicio.”
Alas, much gets lost in translation there, but apparently it made more sense in those faraway locales.
Now, when presented with the proposition that I might apologize to Ms. McKinney, I am tempted to reply, “Shyaa! And monkeys might fly out of my butt!” But since I have no clue what planet, never mind what country, these McKinney worshippers live on (they certainly don’t use what I like to call “Earth-logic,”) I figure they might understand me better if I simply say, “Yes, when Judgment Day comes” or “Si, cuándo llegue el día del juicio.”
Regardless, I’ve got nothing to apologize for. Ms. McKinney and her fans may think that she’s been “vindicated” because of this allegedly shocking “revelation” but I am at a loss to figure out what, if anything, has changed. In her radio interview, Ms. McKinney declared, “We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on September 11th.”
Okay, in a general sense this is true, as so many conspiracy theorists were quick to point out in her defense. I have never disputed that the U.S. government had ample reason to think that al Qaeda or some other militant Islamic group might attack the United States. In fact, nobody has ever disputed this. So, now there is one more warning to add to the “numerous warnings” Ms. McKinney makes so much of. How does this change anything? I don’t get it.
Indeed, this warning which everyone is freaking out over was, according to the New York Times, based on 1998 data from a single British source (golly, who was president in 1998?). And, that source said nothing about suicide attacks, the World Trade Center, or anything like that. The unspecific, generalized threat — one of a great many — was that al Qaeda terrorists would hijack planes in order to trade hostages for the release of the fanatical cleric, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who helped orchestrate a failed 1995 plot to blow up New York landmarks.
So, how exactly did President Bush know about the Sept. 11 attacks beforehand? How does this vindicate Cynthia McKinney? It doesn’t mean one scintilla of vindication for Representative Awful.
But let’s stay on this warning business for a moment longer. Not to be too blunt, but getting a warning that Muslim or Arab terrorist groups are interested in hijacking American planes is roughly equivalent to being “warned” that bears are “interested” in crapping in the woods. This is the normal state of things. Quick: Here’s another warning for you, it’s very possible that this summer will be what meteorologists like to call “hot.” Don’t say you weren’t warned.
And, it’s worth asking, what would have happened if Bush had acted on this general threat? I am sure that if President Bush had ordered the FBI to scrutinize our Muslim citizens and guests while also issuing draconian security procedures at our airports in mid-August last year, Ms. McKinney would have been out there applauding the president’s foresight and courage. I am sure the cable talking heads would have leapt to the president’s defense as the lines of would-be travelers snaked out the airport doors and down the exit ramps.
It is very easy to look backward and say, “these are the warnings that should have been heeded” and “these are the ones that should have been ignored.” Obviously, the Sept. 11 attacks constituted a systemic failures of our national-security apparatus. Obviously, there should be an investigation asking, “How did this happen?” Obviously, if we knew which warnings were serious and which ones could be ignored, Sept. 11 could have been prevented. But that’s not how these warnings work.
It’s worth noting that some systems work perfectly but still fail. If you know how a home-security system is designed, you can rob a house. It may be that no one specific did anything demonstrably wrong but rather that al Qaeda simply gamed the system. It could be that this was the result of more systemic policy failure going back to the Clinton administration. This is all a worthy subject for investigation, inquiry and consideration.
BUT SO WHAT?
But let me once again be clear, none of this has anything to do with the fact that Ms. McKinney is a reprehensible and dangerous fool.
Ms. McKinney, who is something of a sycophant of Arab regimes, suggested that President Bush willfully allowed the Sept. 11 attack to take place so he and his friends could make some money from many of dead Americans.
She said, “it is known that President Bush’s father, through the Carlyle Group had — at the time of the attacks — joint business interests with the bin Laden construction company and many defense-industry holdings, the stocks of which have soared since September 11.” She has ominously and repeatedly invoked an L.A. Times article that reports that the Carlyle Group made a lot of money from selling defense stocks after Sept. 11. After compiling these and many other insinuations, slanders, and irrelevancies she asked, “What did this administration know, and when did it know it, about the events of September 11th? Who else knew, and why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered?”
Now, it is this sort of thing that qualifies someone for membership on the McKinney List. To make the all-star roster of the pugnaciously ignorant, you need to believe that President Bush murdered people to line his pockets. You have to believe that lots of people around him would agree to this, knowing that not just the 3,000 people who did die, but that tens of thousands of people might die (we were “lucky” the casualties were as low as they were, after all). Keep in mind: The willful abetting of the mass murder of U.S. citizens for financial profit flies over the bar for treason and would be punishable by death. Indeed, I would volunteer to pull the switch if it were proven.
By the way, why does she say that only the people in New York were “needlessly murdered.” Why does she omit the people in Washington who were also murdered? Is it because the Pentagon had it coming in some way?
Anyway, when she got in trouble for suggesting that the President was a mass-murderer, she issued the following statement: “I am not aware of any evidence showing that President Bush or members of his administration have personally profited from the attacks of 9-11. A complete investigation might reveal that to be the case.”
This is what she bases her desire for an investigation on. Not to find out how this could have been prevented, but to follow the money for Bush’s personal profit. That’s not helpful. That’s not constructive. That’s not sane.
I know I’m running long here but let me just say for a moment why it isn’t helpful, constructive, or sane. Conspiracy theories almost always say more about the people who offer them than the facts they pretend to describe. Paranoid people, convinced that the world runs on greed, racism, Zionism, or little green men, tend to connect dots according to a preconceived pattern. If you truly believe that, say, Jews run the world it will be impossible to convince you otherwise because all evidence that the conspiracy doesn’t exist only proves how good the Jews are at covering it up. Similarly, Ms. McKinney believes that rich white men rule the world for their own selfish interests. Ms. McKinney and her ilk will never be convinced otherwise because they see the proof all around them. It will ever be thus.
The best proof of this are not all of the hateful and disgusting things Ms. McKinney has said about America in the past. The best proof is her interpretation of this latest “revelation.” In her latest statement Ms. McKinney boasts of her courage, patriotism, and her foresight. Her courage is that of the fool who thinks the protests of the wise are their own reward. Indeed, she has a long history of accusing all critics of racism, as if one needs to think ill of all black people just to note the obvious fact that Ms. McKinney would be all the more denounced if she were a white buffoon instead of a black one. Meanwhile, her patriotism, needless to say, could not be measured with a microscope and her foresight peers only into a parallel universe plagued by white capitalist hobgoblins who persecute the peace-loving Muslims who donate so much blood money to her campaign coffers.
The fact that she claims this latest news as “vindication” of her previous statements is no less absurd, no less idiotic, and no less reprehensible than her previous statements themselves. It’s just sad that so many fools see things differently and it’s dangerous that anyone is treating her with respect she has worked so tirelessly not to earn.