One of the few things that irk me the most about comments by American government officials from the Bush administration reflecting on their role in the post 9/11 America is the claim that they had kept America safe ever since. Watching an interview with Vice-President Dick Cheney with Chris Wallace on Fox today, I kept wondering whether the interviewers who endure this kind of response merely never think about it, are equally as blind, or just don’t care. The fact that such responses come when asked about the justification of heinous interrogation practices makes it even more disgusting. Let us see how the argument holds up.
Before 9/11, there was only one attack on American soil for fifty years, and that was the bombing of Pearl Harbour. Since 1945, there was no other attack on American soil until the World Trade Centre bombing in 1993. By that stupid logic of claiming to be a grand protector of the country just because the days of danger are far between one another, the Clinton Administration could have made a badge for itself for not having endured another attack between 1993 and 2001. But what sense would that have made? I have found it as laughable (if not naively tragic, and a stupid political gimmick) that the right wing commentators, particularly the administrative officials of the Bush administration, would claim this as their legacy: “After all, we have never had any other attack. We kept the country safe since then.” What kind of an excuse is that? Oh yes I let the house burn once, but look I have made sure that it hasn’t happened again since seven years ago. Don’t I deserve a cookie? Or like the man in Yoruba fables who had just returned from a witch doctor and then claiming that he is now invincible from all bullets simply because he is wearing a juju amulet. The witch doctor may take credit for this “safety” from now till eternity and get paid handsomely for it too, but he would do well to warn the man to stay away from a shooting range!
I feel very strongly about 9/11. I never lost anyone there (a family friend was in one of the building earlier in the morning and left before the planes hit) but the enormity of the attack, the scope of the damage and the terrible fall-out from that heinous act changed me totally and the way I look at the world. The sight of brave firefighters going up the stairs as wounded and panicking people came down to safety is one that I would never forget. I watched the movie 9/11 some time in 2002 and was heartbroken. The movie examines the bravery and sacrifice of the firefighters from one of the fire stations in Manhattan and the way they gave themselves to save the lives of others. I have never been able to digest the magnitude of their brave sacrifice and commitment. And to think that some politicians in Washington almost totally dismissed the even braver commitment of living first responders by refusing to give them adequate medical care, one wonders where humanity is sometimes headed.
In any case, politicians never kept America safe. Former Vice-President Cheney certainly never did with his enhanced interrogation techniques that has put the country’s soldiers in more harm than ever before. (And he did manage to get an arrest warrant for himself in Nigeria albeit for a different reason). Ten years after the fatal negligence that caused the death of over 5,000 people, we would do well to work for a safer world than celebrate the mediocrity of vain chest-thumping. Mark Twain has one appropriate quote about keeping quiet when speaking would have an adverse effect on the perception of one’s wisdom. I’ll also add “a sense of shame”, and “humanity”.
I’m pissed. Can you tell?