You’re probably wondering if I got as weepy as you all did on Sunday, on the tenth anniversary of September 11. So let me hasten to assure you that of course I did. The memory of that day will live with me for years to come. Hardly a moment goes by that I don’t mourn what we lost, and celebrate our resilience and triumph in the face of overwhelming odds. Looking back, it’s amazing that it all turned out so well for us. But I guess that’s what makes this a great country.
Which is why I, and the rest of us on what you wingnuts call the hard Left, have been weeping tears of true patriotic joy these past few days. We progressives were so far down in the dumps after the Rethuglican Supreme Court stole the 2000 election from the rightful president — Albert Arnold Gore, Jr., son of Albert Arnold Gore, Sr., and father of Albert Arnold Gore III, the hillbilly dynasty! — that we literally could not believe our luck when al-Qaeda came calling on that gorgeous September morn, seeking some long overdue payback for a millennium of western cultural hegemony, Bach masses, and bacon sandwiches.
Sure, we had to pretend for a while that we were all on the same side. It wouldn’t have been seemly for us to take a victory lap with the towers still smoldering. So we did what we always do when faced with something even we can’t immediately misrepresent or lie about: We feigned outrage — even though we joyously knew we had it coming! — and then set our internal alarm clocks ticking down the hours until we could safely start to undermine *&^%BUSH@#$!% like the nasty little cultural sappers we truly are.
We went into full-fledged Grief Mode, just like when Lucy died but more so, always plotting how best to turn the “tragic” events to our advantage. As we held hands and sang “Gaia Bless America” on the Capitol steps, you never noticed the shivs behind our backs.
You know now the litany of our grievances: the widespread (or at least widely reported) outbreak of unprovoked (and largely imaginary) attacks on peaceable American Muslims. The betrayal of our nation’s core values in our blatant “overreaction” to something that was, after all, just a criminal matter. The establishment of a fascist police state. The missed opportunity to have the rest of the world like us, instead of fear us.
As that sterling avatar of contemporary liberalism, Paul Krugman, put it the other day: “What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. T[h]e 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.”
I couldn’t put it any better myself. September 11 meant that no longer could white, “Christian” America take for granted the permanence of its racist hegemony and its imperial overreach. Amerikkka’s chickens, as the former spiritual mentor to His Serene Majesty the Emperor Barack Hussein Obama II, Lord of the Flies, Keeper of the Hoops, Master of the Greens, Bringer of Kinetic Military Action, Vacationer-in-Chief, Slayer of Osama, Atomizer of the Economy and Protector of the Holy Cities of Honolulu and Chicago famously shouted from the pulpit of the Trinity United Church of Christ, had come home to roost.
So off we went, beetling away in academe and in the pages of the New York Times, whittling the Bush administration down to size for having the temerity and bad taste to actually fight back, to think that 9/11 was an act of war instead of something that could easily be handled in a single episode of Law and Order, or maybe The Real Housewives of Atlanta. We insulted Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al. daily on the editorial pages of the nation’s leading newspapers, and exposed their deepest secrets in the news pages — and with complete impunity! Even when our reporters were fencing stolen government secrets, nobody brought down the hammer; even I have to admit that, as fascists, the Bushies made pretty good fluffy bunnies.
As the great George Washington Plunkitt famously said, we seen our opportunities and we took ’em. Like ju-jitsu masters — real David Mamets without his distressing volte-face, politics-wise — we turned your strength, the jingoistic “patriotic” feelings of the redneck red states, against you. As loyal Democrats, we couldn’t very well let Shrub and Darth Vader ride the crest of popularity that followed their punitive “counter-terrorism” measures against the Religion of Peace. No, we had to kneecap them by any means necessary.
And so we did! Before 9/11, there was still the foolish consensus that we all shared certain cultural norms, among which was that “real Americans” didn’t try to commit mass murder with an airliner at 500 miles per hour. But in the wake of a handful of courageous modern-day Middle Eastern Minutemen taking on the Great Satan, all 300 million citizens are now presumed by the crack Transportation Safety Administration to be potential terrorists, forced to practically disrobe, submit to a thorough sexual groping, or stand before a machine to be irradiated in the name of public safety. Thanks, TSA!
But that’s what you racists get for not heeding the famous admonition from Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, that “inside every gook there’s an American trying to get out,” even if they have to fly a plane into the World Trade Center to do it; September 11 was a cry for help. As Noel Coward famously sang, “Don’t Let’s Be Beastly to the Muslims,” more or less. After all, our twin cardinal virtues of “fairness” and “tolerance” must be extended even to those trying to kill us, since what greater proof of virtue can there be than voluntary suicide?
As you recall, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese bylines suddenly sprouted in the Times, and sushi instantaneously appeared on every restaurant menu. The joy of Shintoism was the subject of adoring stories in the Washington Post, and pictures of the Emperor Hirohito filled American newspapers and magazines. Suddenly, there was a craze for all things Japanese, even nipponized bits of the old Sixth Avenue El, as e.e. cummings wrote in a slightly different context.
Okay, so maybe that didn’t happen, except for the e. e. cummings bit, which just goes to show you how far we’ve come since the Frankfurt School barely escaped the consequences of its own philosophy in Germany, plopped itself down at my alma mater, Columbia University, and promptly started lecturing its hosts about the wicked iniquity of this society.
So, thanks to the Vibrant MulticulturismTM that we’ve forced upon you, we never had to relive the horrors of World War II, in which we incinerated hundreds of thousands of so-called “enemies” in Japan and Germany, destroyed their countries, hanged their leaders, and then rebuilt them in our image. We managed to wrap those conflicts up in four distressingly brutal years, whereas our good war in Afghanistan, which the last time I looked didn’t have an army anywhere near the caliber of the Wehrmacht, has merrily gone on for ten years, with no real end in sight. Progress!
No need for a battleship Missouri steaming into Tokyo Bay to explain the facts of life to Imperial Japan. Oh, the tyrant Bush made brave noises about an imaginary “Axis of Evil” and swore that Iran would never get the Bomb, but our confidential ops inside the Intelligence Community solemnly assured everybody in 2007 that Iran was ages away from going nuclear and somehow the economy crashed and everybody forgot about 9/11 and the next thing you knew the Emperor Hussein had ascended to the Peacock Throne and that was pretty much that.
So that’s why we lefties pretend to get all sentimental on September 11 and force ourselves to sit through yet another performance of Mozart’s Requiem and Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, as if we believed any of that Christianst claptrap about climbing out of the grave, when we know perfectly well that only comforting squid-ink blackness awaits us in the hereafter.
For in our war against you, we are in total solidarity with our “radical” Muslim brothers, and even if it means never hearing Mozart again, the complete destruction of every work of art in the museums, the elimination of every Blarney Stone and Starbucks (well, that one will hurt), and the burning of most of the so-called “great books” — especially that awful Divine Comedy, which places the vibrantly monocultural Mohammed in the eighth circle of “Hell” — and the deaths of the entire LGBT community, it will all be worth it, as long as you and your rotten country die.
The truth is, ten years on, we have won. You just haven’t figured it out yet. And if you don’t think so, why just have a gander at this gloriously politically correct description, from the University of Texas website, of Dante’s culturally insensitive depiction of the Prophet and his beloved son-in-law Ali from The Inferno:
According to tradition, the prophet Mohammed founded Islam in the early seventh century C.E. at Mecca. Ali married Mohammed’s daughter, Fatima, but a dispute over Ali’s succession to the caliphate led, after his assassination in 661, to a division among Muslims into Sunni and Shiite.
Still very much part of the collective memory in Dante’s world were the crusades of the 12th and 13th centuries, in which Christian armies from Europe fought — mostly unsuccessfully and with heavy losses on all sides — to drive Muslims out of the ‘holy land’ (Jerusalem and surrounding areas). In the Middle Ages, Islam had great influence in Europe in terms of both culture — particularly in medicine, philosophy, and mathematics — and politics (e.g., complete or partial Muslim control of Spain from the 8th through 15th century).
We’re everywhere, I tell you. Everywhere.
In short, the entire history of western culture from the Renaissance on has been a lie. There was never anything threatening about Islam; it was simply Common Era Christian prejudice and Islamophobia and those darn Crusades that sent world history spiraling down a dark hole until the Twin Towers collapsed and the scales fell from our eyes. Aufersteh’n!
So stop your weeping, take off your shoes in the airport, celebrate Ramadan with the Emperor Hussein, and get with the vibrant multiculturalism. It’s easier that way. Less painful, too.
— David Kahane is a proud American and doesn’t care who knows it, but is ready to reconsider on a moment’s notice. You can congratulate him for his exemplary open-mindedness by writing to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or becoming one of his acolytes on Facebook. There will, however, be a quiz.