“Now get you to my lady’s chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come; make her laugh at that.”— Hamlet, Graveyard scene, V, i, 193-195
. . . [The] candidates spoke enthusiastically in favor of torture and against the rule of law. Rudy Giuliani endorsed waterboarding. Mitt Romney declared that he wants accused terrorists at Guantánamo, “where they don’t get the access to lawyers they get when they’re on our soil. . . My view is, we ought to double Guantánamo.” His remarks were greeted with wild applause.
— Paul Krugman, “Don’t Blame Bush,” New York Times, May 18,2007
Here’s the way it ought to be: When Rudy Giuliani says that Iran, which had nothing to do with 9/11, is part of a “movement” that “has already displayed more aggressive tendencies by coming here and killing us,” he should be treated as a lunatic.
— Paul Krugman, “Trust and Betrayal,” New York Times, May 28,2007
As we said there in the magazine and again on our website, we at Tikkun not only don’t agree with their [i.e. 9/11 conspiracy theorists’] analysis, but we also don’t think that, even if it were true, it would be a wise thing to spend time engaged in that inquiry.
Sept 11 was an attack on America, and America should care for its victims.
— Editorial, The New York Times, May 26, 2007
The [American Corporate State] wields the most powerful weapon of political control the world has ever seen: the mass media.
Imagine my happiness around six a.m. or so back on May 24 of this ever more dreadful year. Like any other red-blooded American, I was thrilled back then to read in the Times that “Insurers Agree to Pay Billions at Ground Zero.” “All Claims Are Resolved,” said the first subhead, followed by “Officials Say Deal Allows Work on Trade Center to Move Ahead.”
Let streamers fly and bells ring out, thought I. News like this was worth celebrating — news that there really was stillbig moneyinbig crime. Really big — like pulling off 9/11, say, covering it up, and then collecting billions for damages.
Cool. Especially — just imagine — if it was made possible in part by a bit of legerdemain by the governor of New York State himself. Double cool. Money in amounts like that could offer leverage enough to — well, enough leverage, say, to launch a Presidential campaign.
Perhaps. In any case, “$4.55 billion will be available for rebuilding the World Trade Center site,” said the piece, adding that the deal “ended a protracted legal battle with insurers over payouts related to the terrorist attack.” The thing most interesting, however, came before that, hidden shyly inside a subordinate clause: “The agreement, which the insurers described as the largest single insurance settlement ever undertaken by the industry, ended a protracted legal” etc.
The largest ever, befitting the enormity of the crime it came from. How nice. “New York State and Port Authority officials said yesterday that the deal removed any uncertainty over how much money would be available for rebuilding and would enable them to obtain private financing for the $9 billion project.”
You could tell by the photo that Spitzer was — shall we say, happy? And lucky, too. After all, just suppose that back in October 2004 he’d actually done what “66 percent of the voters wanted” him to do and had re-opened investigations into the causes of 9/11 instead of sitting for a couple of years on the petition that was signed by 100,000 people and hand-carried to the New York State Attorney General’s office for his action.
Responding to that petition back in 2004 certainly would have poured cold water on that later happy occasion of May 2007, when all that money at last fell into place, hardly a saddening recipient Larry Silverstein, either, at least so the photo suggests.
Ah, that happy morning in May, when the money fell at last into its mounting piles. A much different morning, indeed, from the darkness of that blue-skied morning six years earlier, 9/11 itself. The investment made on that morning finally paid off on this morning. Shrewdly done, wasn’t it, that a morning of human bodies falling a hundred floors to thud on the cement below, and a morning of millions of pounds of steel, cement, and flesh being disappeared in only ten seconds into dust — shrewdly done, that that morning could have been the deliberately planted seed of this morning, when not human bodies but money, sweet, lubricious money piled up, huge and sweet, high and deep.
America! Planning! Foresight! Leadership! Integrity! Honesty! Profit!
“Announcing the deal were, from left, Albert M. Rosenblatt, a retired judge; Gov. and hypocrite, liar, and abettor of murder, Eliot Spitzer; Anthony E. Shorris, Port Authority executive director; and Larry A. Silverstein, liar, billionaire, opportunist, abettor of crimes against humanity, traitor.”
Oh, pardon. I wonder how those misquotes got in there.
In keeping with the Times’s laudable and ancient policy of printing only the news that’s fit to print, the paper’s photo-caption, I see, reads differently than I’d mistakenly thought. Either way, the Times’ elegant and accurate coverage a great deal of the time resides less in what’s said than in what is left unsaid, so that the reader — like the reader of, say, Chaucer — must be ever cautious, knowing that what the poet leaves out may be every bit as significant as what he puts in. The difference, though, is that by leaving things out Chaucer aims at throwing his lariat around yet more truth, not around less, as in the aim of the Times.
Either way, the news we need about Silverstein and Spitzer is far from necessarily the news being given us. Once more, the information of greatest significance and importance about these two criminal players of roulette with the lives of Americans and with the life of America — this information is left out by the editors and writers of the Times, making them, too, complicit in deep crime, a complicity more visible than usual thanks to this particular and Mammon-giddy occasion. Those who care to, in fact, might go back yet again to the Mammon-is-great photo and have a look at the faces on, from left to right, red-tie-guy number one and red-tie-guy number three.
Anyone, by the way, who’d like to think over some more Times-esque lying-in-action — or omission — should not miss Kevin Barrett’s clear-headed and hilarious analysis of the infant-level fraudulence of the famous famous Khalid Sheikh Mohammed “confession,” a laughably inconceivable confession that in all its most deadly seriousness the degraded and traitor-driven Times ran as its news lead for Thursday, March 15, 2007.
But enough. I can take only so much of this at a time. I’ve got to pause and search for a pocket of air that’s free of the stink of depravity and fraud — if any remains — that I can draw into my lungs and thus into my diseased, vile, dying American blood.
“My ghost be with the old philosophers!” declares Dr. Faustus in I, iii, 59 of Christopher Marlowe’s great Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. By “ghost,” Faustus means what today we would call “spirit” or “intellectual dedication.” And therefore I, echoing Faustus, declare, “My spirit be with Robert Shetterly.”
In case you don’t happen to know, Robert Shetterly not only wrote and illustrated a book with the wonderful title Americans Who Tell the Truth, but back last spring he also wrote a piece that the New York Times wouldn’t touch with a 1776-foot-long pole. It was called “The Moral Obligation to Lose the War,” the “war,” of course, meaning the one in Iraq.
Dated 05/12/07, Shetterly’s piece has a brevity and elegance that could almost invite comparisons with the Gettysburg Address, although you’ll find no such comparisons here. Of the Iraq war, Shetterly declares the obvious, that
The immense immorality of the choice to attack Iraq, and base that choice in lies, propaganda, and fear is hardly news now. But the fact that, above all else, it was a moral choice means that another moral choice is possible. And only one choice would atone for the original.
Of the depraved villainy and putrescent cowardice of the congressional Democrats and their “strategy,” he, again, declares the obvious:
This war will not end until the funding is cut off. Anyone who would continue the funding to “support the troops,” should also tell you that once you make a moral mistake, keep making it, and that those who pay with their blood for your mistake are grateful for the support. The logic of this position would also maintain that policy is made by soldiers and officers, not by the people, the Congress and the President.
Murderers making specious apologies for murderers are complicit in murder. No bad act can be made a good act. No immoral act can be rendered undamaging or harmless — although it can be atoned for by a moral act if it is morally undertaken and is of a seriousness equivalent to that of the original immoral act. Shetterly:
None of the offered plans now before us to de-escalate the war disavow what we all know to be its original goals — control of Iraq’s oil and the building of large, permanent US military bases in Iraq. Nor do any of these bills address the central issue of accountability, the fact that this war is a war crime, a crime against our democracy, our Constitution, the Iraqi people, international law, and our own soldiers. Without accountability, our democracy is meaningless. Without moral action, our claim to integrity and respect are [sic] meaningless.
And there’s the crux: “Without moral action, our claim[s] to integrity and respect are meaningless.” Shetterly’s point is identical to the one that, in my view, has to be made about 9/11 truth. A moral action — in the case of 9/11, honest exposure of what happened followed by full accountability — must be taken against all responsible for those acts of treason and murder that are of an exponentially even greater significance than they already are in and of themselves by merit of their having served deliberately as the trigger that released the even greater and near-countless crimes against humanity that have followed as a consequence. In the long ongoing absence of any such moral action, of any insistence upon accountability for those initial crimes and for the crimes made possible by them — in that absence, any current claim “to integrity and respect” in or for “leadership” of or by the likes of Spitzer, Giuliani, or Silverstein will and must be not only criminal in itself but also without any true foundation, or “meaningless.”
Before going on with the need for “moral action,” though, let’s stick around back here with the New York Times for a minute. The paper’s hypocrisy is patently contemptible and, with the passage of more and more time, ever passing day more virulently dangerous.
Let’s take contemptibility first — by turning to the case of Marilee Jones. Who’s she? Well, she was the one who, back in April, after twenty-eight years at MIT, suddenly up and quit her position as a much-valued dean of admissions. Why? Ah ha! She was revealed to have fake degrees!
And how did the Times respond? Well, it responded with outrage, or so it seemed from the headline, “Dean at M.I.T. Resigns, Ending a 28-Year Lie.”
A lie twenty-eight years long! And worse, if that were possible, this one was a lie about academic degrees! We swoon to read of such malice and horror. Shame on Marilee Jones! Not only for the deceit itself, but for over a quarter-century of it!
Disgusting, isn’t it. Marilee Jones deserves everything she gets, doesn’t she.
Ah, but let’s — shall we? — turn now to a little teeny dinky winky lie that’s hardly even six years old. And this little teeny dinky winky lie is only about little teensy-weensy peccadilloes like — well, mass murder, treason, breach of oath of office, wholesale destruction of evidence at a crime scene, sabotage of the Constitution, war crimes, breach of international law, crimes against humanity — shucks, not only is six years nothing, but these peccadilloes, unlike Marilee Jones’ major frauds, are just things that happen — you know, as in “stuff happens.” These things come about when guys will be guys — the sort of thing they learned back in their frat days. These are things that something so simple as a knowing clap on the back of a fellow-member at a Bilderberg conference can take care of. Or a firm shake of investment-creature paw like the one being offered to the reptilian Silverstein by the mud-snake (either mud-snake or a man so dumb he doesn’t know he breathes) Anthony E. Shorris, Port Authority executive director — I refer, of course, once more to the revelatory photo as it silently speaks its thousand words.
And, Marilee Jones, you of the ruthless crime? We’re all so glad you got exactly what you deserved (“MIT Chancellor Phillip L Clay [commented that a] degree was probably not required for [Jones’] entry-level job in 1979, when she was hired to recruit more women to MIT”). Our sense of wrong and right is deeply satisfied. You got what you deserved, and — we agree with the Times — in matters like these there can be only punishment, never melioration. And so what about Eliot and Adolph and Larry? What punishment do they get? Ah, yes, none. They showed enterprise! They showed initiative! They did well not for self but for nation! Investment, after all — and these men are indeed investors — lifts up all of America!
Lies, disgusting lies, all lies.
Yes, the disgust one feels not only at the nature of but at the scope of the deceit, fraud, murder, brigandage, rapine, torture that are visited now regularly, incessantly, and without accountability throughout the world in the name of our no-longer republic, in the name of our mass-media-style Fascisto-Bilderberger-Trilateralist-CFR state. Everywhere and all around is a sense of the diseased, of vileness, even in the air, even in the blood. But in our case there’s also an absence altogether of anything the in the least way restorative — because there’s no intelligence, and therefore no pity, therefore no possibility of pity — of the kind that’s present in every fiber of the five-hundred-year-old example that everyone remembers:
Gloucester: O, let me kiss that hand!
Lear: Let me wipe it first, it smells of mortality.
Yes, I did say intelligence. Most intelligence has been bled out of us Americans already, and what’s left stains the nation’s pillows deep in the empty heart of every dreamless night. Self-slaughter on so massive a scale has never been seen before in the history of humanity, and any who doubt that it is self slaughter ought to read Michael Manning’s “We Are the Thought Police,” an article that Chris Floyd, in his own “Mad Cow Nation: America’s Willing Surrender” says this about:
Indeed, Massing’s observations on Americans’ self-censorship — the surrender of the awareness of reality in exchange for self-regarding fantasy — have implications far beyond war reportage. In our time, we are witnessing a society voluntarily surrendering its liberties, its rights — its gumption — to a harsh and malevolent authority. We are witnessing a society surrendering its pride and its moral core to torturers and thieves, liars and killers. And it is a willing surrender, as if vast swathes of the American people are relieved that they can finally lay down the burdens and responsibilities of freedom.
A Nation Gone Blind had its own say about Americans’ — and about American intellectuals’ — “surrender of the awareness of reality in exchange for self-regarding fantasy,” as those who’ve read the book will remember. By now, though, everybody of the few rare and lucky enough still to be sighted are seeing that same horror. In an extraordinary and wrenching piece named “Amazing Grace,” Charles Sullivan writes that “We refuse to believe what we are seeing and we dismiss it as too preposterous to be real. We no longer wholly trust our own senses or follow our most innate instincts.” He goes on to explain that we can’t and won’t see the truth for what it is, even though “We sense not only that something is wrong — something is terribly, irreconcilably, sickeningly, wrong.”
And so it is, and has been now to the point very possibly of no return. We are a nation of the blinded, the half-blinded, the self-blinded — above all, of the allowingly blinded. Americans’ intelligence has been bled out of them, according to Sullivan, “as a result of an educational system that does not teach us how to think” — and that, I might add, does so now less than ever. And Americans’ intelligence has been bled out of them because, even worse, they “pay attention to a media monoculture that does not inform, but lies and deceives for money.”
America, in short, has been destroyed by a half-century-long epoch of simplification and deceit. Readers who also sense that “something is terribly, irreconcilably, sickeningly, wrong” with both nation and times, and who despise beyond any previously known measure of contempt the quislings and traitors and Eichmanns-in-training who call themselves “the media” — such readers really ought to make a point of looking at Vincent L. Guarisco’s recent piece, “America’s Road to Tyranny.” In it, Guarisco tells the story of the martyred Sibel Edmonds, of his own government-betrayed father, of his two young daughters — and yet saves almost for the end, even after all of that, his cry that
most of all, we despise the talking heads who covertly sell and peddle the political propaganda and official control tactics that keeps everyone at bay — docile and compliant for the ruling elite. Those who do this are the most ruthless enemy within our grasp, because they sold-us-out for far LESS than those individuals who make bank while manipulating the puppet strings at a safe distance.
And he calls for action, using the words of the noble, assassinated senator, Paul Wellstone:
So, Patriot — let’s tell our children to save us from our miserable mistakes. America’s road to tyranny is no future worth living. Let the words of Paul Wellstone echo in the youth of tomorrow: ‘If we don’t fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don’t really stand for them.’
It’s time to get back to our trio of happy America-First investors — Eliot, Adolph, and Larry — in order to see just how good the New York Times really did — does — consider their constructive investment work to be. Having now been alerted by Charles Sullivan and Vincent L. Guarisco as to precisely how contemptible, criminal, and treasonous the people actually are who run establishments like the Times, what we’re likely to find out should to be quite interesting, however disturbing.
Before we look at the Times’ treatment of our happy trio, however, I think it would be worthwhile and proper to turn back for a moment to Robert Shetterly and the refreshing dose of sanity he brought earlier.
You’ll remember Shetterly as the one who wrote, in “The Moral Obligation to Lose the War,” that “Without accountability, our democracy is meaningless. Without moral action, our claim[s] to integrity and respect are meaningless.”
I’m suspect it’s clear by now — and I trust Shetterly will pardon me for it — that what I’m hoping to do in this essay is make an argument parallel to Shetterly’s but with a different target. In a sense, I want to amplify Shetterly’s argument. After all, I agree with him completely that without accountability for heinous and vast criminal actions, none of us can have, and in all likelihood can never have, any “claim to integrity and respect.” I don’t want just to duplicate him, however, by concurring that one way of achieving that claim would be to “lose” the war (even though I think he’s right). Instead, in parallel with him, I want to argue that we can achieve our “claim to integrity and respect” only if we can succeed in doing two things. The first is “lose” not the war but “lose” our criminal leaders — that is, lose as leaders all of the thousands of Eliots, Adolphs, and Larrys whose vile and unexposed tyrannies we now groan under. And the second is not just “lose” our criminal leaders, but, by exposing, expunging, and getting rid of them, thereby “losing” the entirety of the United States of America as it’s now constituted.
Who, after all, ever thought that America would turn fascist so fast as it has? Eliot and Adolph and Larry are certainly way more than okay with the speedy collapse — or, in their view, with not the collapse but with the speedy consolidation of their interests — since 9/11. After all, they’re nothing if not quick at their criminality. They’ve got nothing if not the “skills” for such speed — skills absorbed from their mothers’ milk, then from schmoozing and rubbing up with the rich and powerful in their chosen schools, and finally from sucking at the corporate trough under the ever-vigilant and knowing eyes of shallow, villainous, traitorous, tutoring corporate masters. Along with the collapse of education in America, the pace of “learning” among bright students like these, and the quick application of that “learning,” has grown ever faster, being no longer slowed or held back by any such laborious matters as the actual need to learn things. What is it, after all, that they do learn? Well, the truth is that what they learn — and, oh, how quickly they do it! — are two very simple things: First, corrupt. Second, conquer.
And there you have our “businessmen and leaders” of today. There you have our Eliots, Adolphs, and Larrys. There you have our corporate “figures.” There you have our “CEOs.” There you have our Cheneys and Halliburtonians and Wolfowitzes and Feiths and Kristols.
And there, it should come as little surprise, you have our fascism of today. It may not look like what people think fascism ought to look like, but, as this excerpt from A Nation Gone Blind suggests, that’s got nothing to do with anything. Call it “fascism American style,” if you will, but whatever its moniker, we’ve got it here and now. Fascism in the New York Times. Fascism in New York State. Fascism in the fully-owned-and-fully-controlled media. Fascism in the assembled and 99-percent complicit houses of Congress. Fascism in the White House — and fascism in all of the assembled arms, tentacles, organs, and agents of the White House; fascism among all of its corporate planners, consultants, and policy makers; in all of its military extensions; and, not least, in all of the American academic institutions that it has corrupted totally, those once-hallowed institutions that are packed now with all their crawling little Eichmanns swilling from the Pentagon trough and bustling about happily to help bring each and every one of us — us, not them — step by step closer to the day when most will die and — yes — the “masters” live.
Fantasy? Paranoia? Madness? Insanity?
Don’t I wish. But, sorrow all around, it isn’t craziness. It may be a steep tipping toward what I’m calling fascism, or it may be the thing already achieved. Either way, saying these things is hardly fantasy or madness, but instead it’s just stating the simple and obvious as based on observation — and on a certain amount of reading that’s available to everyone but resisted by all but a few. A Nation Gone Blind argues that Americans since World War II have become “simplified” and “more intellectually single-dimensional and. . . passive than ever before.” After that assertion, at one point in the book, there comes this sentence: “The evidence of it is everywhere, while the resultsof it are everywhere denied.”
And the same is true of fascism, American style. The evidence of it is everywhere, while the results of it are everywhere denied. It’s all around, everywhere you look, there being only a hair’s-breadth of difference whether you conclude that it’s already here, now, or that it’s still converging, focusing, tightening its chains.
And, my endangered fellow citizens, that’s the way it is with fascism, American style. It’s already late, insanely late, and we’re all going to be dead guys to liberty and goners to freedom if we don’t kick the denial habit pretty damn fast and pull the plug on 9/11 in order to nail the bastards who first planned and pulled that humungous, cheap, made-for-TV crime, and then, after nailing them, go on to nail the many bastards — and bastardettes — who’ve at the very least made themselves complicit by aiding in the 9/11 cover-up or who have explicitly committed or been abettors in any of the stark and ugly chain of crimes and treason that have followed 9/11 like contaminated water rushing through breached levees.
Things have gotten only worse since the towers were ingeniously pulled down and the blame for the crime pinned elsewhere. Late or not, if we continue doing nothing, it’s guaranteed that things will get only worse.
We’re idiots and fools, more stupid by a grand measure even than Didi and Gogo, if we just keep sitting around and around and around, waiting for something “good” to happen — like, say, waiting for the next dead and fraudulent non-election to roll around, or for Nancy Pelosi to initiate impeachment, as if both of those weren’t infinitely more stupid than sitting around pointlessly waiting for Godot.
Instead of fading out into the night like Didi and Gogo, I think we ought to get to work. And, if I may return for a moment to Robert Shetterly, I think that that means we’ve got to figure out, as I’ve said, exactly how to regain “our claim to integrity and respect” as individuals and as a nation. This is an enormous task. Still, it’s the one most highly worth tackling, since at stake is that either we find a way to resist and defeat the fascists-Bilderbergers-Trilateralists (who themselves, as Steven Estulin shows, neither have nor create any integrity or respect) or we give up in despair, accept fascism permanently, and begin gradually dying both spiritual and literal deaths.
We can begin losing our fascist leaders, and thus begin ridding ourselves of the United States as it’s now constituted, only if we all insist upon looking precisely, thinking accurately, and acting accordingly.
Let’s begin by taking our promised look at just how warmly the New York Times did embrace the pull-the-towers success of our beaming trio of America-First investors, Eliot, Adolph, and Larry.
After I lost my breakfast on page B6 of the Times, the czars of that paper almost made me do it again two days later, with their lead editorial for May 26, “Ensuring Progress at Ground Zero.”
The gist lay in the sentiment that for many years “Ground zero was a sad place made even sadder by a lack of progress.”
Breakfast would have come up in two heaves this time, one heave at the inadequate, at best, and, at worst, overtly perverse and outrageously absurd choice of the word “sad,” and another heave at the utterly ghoulish choice of the word “progress.” Let it go. Be reminded, however, that if you imagine our highest leaders in the media aren’t simple-minded at best, deranged more likely, and in probable actuality quite patently mad, you can correct your wrong impression by reading sentences like that one in the daily paper.
Paragraph two went to Larry’s insurance troubles — that is, Larry’s troubles getting his big hairy paws on the money. Paragraph three held the kernel:
This week, most of those insurers finally agreed to what may be the largest insurance payout in history — $4.55 billion. The agreement means that Mr. Silverstein and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the two main developers of the site, can now proceed to get additional financing to build the entire $9 billion complex.
Ah, America! Ah, foresight and planning! Ah, leadership, integrity, honesty! Ah, investment! And, ah, ah, ah, profit!
My disgust is powerful, but let me see if I can manage anyway to type in two more paragraphs of “Ensuring Progress at Ground Zero”:
The insurance agreement does not completely clear the way for the complicated reconstruction work that needs to be done at ground zero. Plans for building and leasing the Freedom Tower, the tallest skyscraper on the site, are still shaky. The old Deutsche Bank building, which was set to be demolished three years ago to make way for one of the towers, is still there, its deconstruction proving more costly and difficult by the day.
The unraveling of the insurance mess, however, has provided new hope. Instead of a grim silence around ground zero, the noise of rebuilding sounds the revival of Lower Manhattan.
All one asks is for the simple truth. All one asks is for the simple truth about 9/11. That simple truth lies waiting as a tonic that, by recreating and asserting accountability for unspeakable crime, could put back together a lost, broken, betrayed, diseased nation; repair a destroyed constitution; restore human dignity; bring an end to the nightmare-world of state-imposed torture; and bring to a close a long string of flagrant, degrading, unconscionable crimes against nation, people, and world humanity.
That’s the simple truth that one is asking for. And those are the reasons, even after six years, that one goes on, and on, asking for it.
And yet here’s the terrible, but real, truth — that we live now in a perverted and criminal nation where simple truth of almost any kind is no longer a valid public currency. No matter whether it yet looks that way or not, we are in fact right now far less closely related to America’s 18th Century founders than we are to Stalin, Goebbels, CheneyBush, and Orwell, to other nations that traditionally have been our enemies, nations where events are twisted, where propaganda replaces fact, where history is rewritten, or, if neither replacement nor rewriting quite works out, where history is, quite summarily, thrown down the memory hole, as William Parry shows here.
In that Times editorial for May 26, the very worst example of this kind of lying cum rewriting cum twisting cum deceit came at the very end. All the emphasis is mine. “Sept 11 was an attack on America,” wrote the Times, “and America should care for its victims.”
Yes, 9/11 certainly was an attack on America. And, though the criminal Times obey its vile masters by denying this simple truth until hell freeze over, it was also an attack by Americans. And just exactly who, given that simple truth, one wishes to ask the complicitors at the Times, just exactly who, then, are America’s victims?
Ask and ask and ask, and the Times will never answer. No, the great falsehood is much, much too valuable, the huge lie is much too profitable, the deceit far too precious in its guaranteed return on investment for the Titans of Type and Treason to spoil it by doing something so irresponsible and soft and un-businesslike as telling the simple truth.
Even after a deep breath to help gather some kind of readiness, poise, and focus for attack, a person still scarcely knows where to begin. The propaganda that runs throughout every fiber of this criminal, brazen, appalling editorial, the lies it consists of — vile, repugnant, unforgivable, disgusting. And then on top of all that there’s also the absolutely unbelievable bowing down of the editorial “voice” in its wholly unresisting acceptance of the sheerest, cheapest, tawdriest, crudest, most craven, most malignant, most shameless, most unutterably vile destruction — destruction by language — of truth, dignity, and integrity all in one fell swoop: I refer, in case you’re in any doubt, to the fact that the editorial writer is actually able to allow the Disney-fascist words “Freedom Tower” to pass his or her — perhaps its — lips, and is actually able to do so, it would appear, without the spontaneous and powerful attack of revulsion and self-disgust that would cause any normal and decently educated human being with a mind of his, her, or its own, to vomit so profusely as to flood the offices, hallways, and stairwells of the entire New York Times building, profusely enough even that the clots, acids, and fluids would burst out doors and onto the sidewalks, then the street, flooding 8th Avenue as it makes its long slow decline downtown, traffic skidding at first, then slowing, then remaining for some time at a stink-filled halt.
Rabelais. Voltaire. Swift. Lenny Bruce. Alexander Pope. Paul Krassner. Samuel Beckett. Aristophanes. George Orwell.
Language. As all of us know or should know, language is a dangerous thing and a powerful one. It can be used — and commonly is so used, as by the New York Times — as a most effective tool for lying, deceiving, distorting, and prevaricating, as well as for disguising truth, deflecting attention from the truth, altering truth, or rendering truth patently unrecognizable.
These uses of language are the uses of the propagandist; the uses of those who seek to bury thought rather than to liberate it; to obscure truth rather than to express it; to manipulate and imprison minds rather than awaken and free minds.
As readers of A Nation Gone Blind know, these uses of language — and of myriad non-verbal parallels to them — are also the uses that have been made of language for at least the past six decades by the corporate-controlled mass media in the United States, and that continue every day so to be made. The significance of this simple fact can not be over-stated, and in an essay that everyone should read, Kevin Flaherty writes that “The ACS [the American Corporate State] wields the most powerful weapon of political control the world has ever seen: the mass media.”
Having now talked about the mass media as pernicious and about language as a weapon against the truth, let’s turn to another subject equally inseparable from aesthetics, the subject of satire.
Anyone who understands, say, Jonathan Swift’s writing, knows that it reveals — “uncovers” — the truth about things by stripping away the customary assumptions that normally exist like veils between the things themselves and the people who are habitual observers of them, or who are customary thinkers about them.
Best example? Well, back in December of last year, we actually had a contest about one great example, that of Gulliver’s first bowel movements in the land of the Lilliputians. It’s still a great example of Swift’s satire — of his tricking readers into looking at familiar things for what they really are instead of for what custom or habit may have caused them to seem or to be taken as. For readers who’d like a short version of the bowel movement questions and contest, I’ll put a file here that holds only the essence of both.
On the same subject — that is, of familiarity, not feces — just by leaping a couple of centuries forward, to Waiting for Godot, we can find the famous line near the end of Act II that Beckett gives to Vladimir. This is the sentence:
“But habit is a great deadener.”
And yes, indeed, habit is a great deadener, as Swift well knew, as Beckett well knew, and as every preacher, fascist, propagandist, tyrant, every CheneyBushist all know very well. If something is said or seen so often that it comes to be accepted habitually, then it’s a thing heard or seen without thought. If, for example, it’s said often enough that Al Qaeda was the “thing” that “attacked America” on 9/11 — if that’s said often enough, then, in good time and in the absence of any accompanying truth about the matter (the simple truth, for example, that Al Qaeda wasn’t the attacker), that great lie will come to be accepted as truth without thought, just as it’s accepted without thought that one must drive on the right-hand side of the road.
So habit can be a great, great liar by merit of its being a great, great deadener. When you do something — anything — by habit, you do it without thinking.
Virginia Woolf, one of the greatest geniuses in the twentieth century novel, knew these things very well too — that habit is a great deadener and that habit is a great liar. In the long first section of To the Lighthouse, Mrs. Ramsay snatches a moment alone when at last her children go off for their supper. And what does Mrs. Ramsay do, now that she’s finally alone for a minute and has the chance to do it? Well, she’s certainly unlike most of today’s Americans, who, at such a moment, would be likely to plug something into their ears, or turn on the television — doing those things precisely to avoid doing the thing that Mrs. Ramsay does. For, as all know who’ve read To the Lighthouse, what Mrs. Ramsay does in her moment of being alone late one summer afternoon in 1910 or so, is think.
And what does Mrs. Ramsay think about? Well, she thinks about family, about children (she has eight), about the nature of the individual self, about beauty (she has it, even at fifty) — and then she thinks about life, about death, and about nothingness.
Now, while a typical one of us might be likely to watch Jerry Springer with our eyeballs and, with our ear drums, listen to, or hear, “I Fucked the Hound Dog and Married My Mama’s Crippled Sister Blues” as performed by The Two-by-Fours and a Handful of Cum — well, while most of us would be doing that or something equivalent, Mrs. Ramsay sits there thinking about being and nothingness.
Like the late Victorians she was one of, Mrs. Ramsay had had her one-time habits of “belief” in eternity and divinity and conventional religion not only well shaken up but, in essence, destroyed by the publication of Origins of Species in 1859, by the rise of the “new” geological sciences that showed that Earth was impermanent, and by the “higher criticism” that studied not only Biblical texts but also the lives of early Christians — including Jesus himself — showing them to be purely secular phenomena, not divine.
It was that same mid-nineteenth century destruction of established habits of thought and belief that led Matthew Arnold to conclude in “Dover Beach” (1867) that the world wasn’t any longer the source of comfort and certainty it had so recently seemed. Now, says Arnold, the world
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
And that world Arnold is talking about is also our world — though George W. Bush or Jerry Falwell might not agree that it is, and a few million born-again Christians might not agree, and many million Americans-Gone-Blind might not agree. But none of that makes a bit of difference. It’s still the world we’ve got now, here, today, no matter what they “think.” A world out of control, a world overseen by no benevolent or shaping agent, but a world, instead, “Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, / Where ignorant armies clash by night.”
Gloomy, eh? Elitist and condescending, wouldn’t you say? No respect for the common people, right? Classist?
Well, frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. After all, if two hundred million Americans-Gone-Blind don’t start waking up and coming to attention pretty swear-word soon, they’re going to take the whole ship down, and, by god, that means for swear-word sure that they’re going to take me down too, and you, and the whole republic. And they’re not going to slap themselves around, are they, in order to wake themselves up? And I know for pretty swear-word sure that Amy Goodman isn’t going to wake them up. The New York Times editorial board isn’t going to do it. Matthew Rothschild isn’t going to do it, and neither are Frank Rich, Nicholas Lemann, Ariana Huffington, or, god knows, Alexander Cockburn. Nobody at The Nation is going to do it, Christopher Hitchens isn’t going to do it, nobody at The New Yorker, and nobody — for swear-word sure — at Popular Mechanics is going to do it, and body at The New Republic, or at Commonweal, or Commentary, or at Tikkun, or at the Columbia Journalism Review, and nobody at NPR, or at Pacifica Radio, or at CBS, or NBC, or ABC, or PBS, or not even anybody at swear-word ABCKWXYX.
Socrates would have done it, if he were still around — he’d have buzzed around like a gadfly and bitten them all on the asses, and then bitten them again on the asses until they finally woke up. And I know another one who would have done it, too, if she were still around, and that’s Mrs. Ramsay. She didn’t go easy even on herself.
She’s sitting there back in 1910 or so, unlike most of us, thinking. Thinking about life, and thinking about death, and thinking about life, and then thinking about death, and then thinking about the nothingness that comes after you die. Back and forth, back and forth, she goes, getting more and more panicked, until — let’s follow:
Often she found herself sitting and looking, sitting and looking, with her work in her hands until she became the thing she looked at — that light, for example. And it would lift up on it some little phrase or other which had been lying in her mind like that — “Children don’t forget, children don’t forget” — which she would repeat and begin adding to it, It will end, it will end, she said. It will come, it will come, when suddenly she added, We are in the hands of the Lord.
Just look at that! Hey, all you Americans-Gone-Blind, just consider what happened to Mrs. Ramsay! Shouldn’t it make you feel a little bit better, since misery always loves company, yes? What Mrs. Ramsay just did is something just like you guys always do — that is, she stopped thinking. She fell back into habit. She did the equivalent of sticking a couple of those swear-word pluggy little things into her ears, or of turning on the swear-word television set, for the lord’s sake.
But keep watching, because then something different happens. Unlike the two or three hundred million Americans-Gone-Blind who do that same sort of thing all the time and never, ever snap out of it, Mrs. Ramsay catches herself. She immediately realizes what’s she done. She immediately pulls the swear-word pluggy little things out of her ears and throws a brick through the swear-word television screen — which is to say that she not only quickly re-establishes her own free agency as a thinking human being, but she also begins examining herself, examining her failure, and analyzing what kind of terrible force it could have been that had made something so awful happen to her as that she should actually stop thinking.
“Men of Athens, do not interrupt, but hear me; there was an agreement between us that you should hear me out. And I think that what I am going to say will do you good: for I have something more to say, at which you may be inclined to cry out; but I beg that you will not do this. I would have you know that, if you kill such a one as I am, you will injure yourselves more than you will injure me. Meletus and Anytus will not injure me: they cannot; for it is not in the nature of things that a bad man should injure a better than himself. I do not deny that he may, perhaps, kill him, or drive him into exile, or deprive him of civil rights; and he may imagine, and others may imagine, that he is doing him a great injury: but in that I do not agree with him; for the evil of doing as Anytus is doing - of unjustly taking away another man's life - is greater far. And now, Athenians, I am not going to argue for my own sake, as you may think, but for yours, that you may not sin against the God, or lightly reject his boon by condemning me. For if you kill me you will not easily find another like me, who, if I may use such a ludicrous figure of speech, am a sort of gadfly, given to the state by the God; and the state is like a great and noble steed who is tardy in his motions owing to his very size, and requires to be stirred into life. I am that gadfly which God has given the state and all day long and in all places am always fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you. And as you will not easily find another like me, I would advise you to spare me. I dare say that you may feel irritated at being suddenly awakened when you are caught napping; and you may think that if you were to strike me dead, as Anytus advises, which you easily might, then you would sleep on for the remainder of your lives, unless God in his care of you gives you another gadfly. And that I am given to you by God is proved by this: - that if I had been like other men, I should not have neglected all my own concerns, or patiently seen the neglect of them during all these years, and have been doing yours, coming to you individually, like a father or elder brother, exhorting you to regard virtue; this I say, would not be like human nature. And had I gained anything, or if my exhortations had been paid, there would have been some sense in that: but now, as you will perceive, not even the impudence of my accusers dares to say that I have ever exacted or sought pay of anyone; they have no witness of that. And I have a witness of the truth of what I say; my poverty is a sufficient witness.”
From The Internet Classics
But instantly she was annoyed with herself for saying that. Who had said it? Not she; she had been trapped into saying something she did not mean. She looked up over her knitting and met the third stroke [of the lighthouse beam] and it seemed to her like her own eyes meeting her own eyes, searching as she alone cold search into her mind and her heart, purifying out of existence that lie, any lie.
It’s a lie, then, that “we are in the hands of the Lord,” and Mrs. Ramsey doesn’t lie. She’s a thinking, intelligent, self-possessed free agent — she’s a citizen, not a consumer. And so naturally, she’s angry with herself for having fallen into the empty, false, outmoded “lie” that “god” will take care of human beings.
So why did she do it?
She doesn’t find out why she did it. And she doesn’t tell us, either. A person could look at her in a forgiving and understandingly tolerant way, concluding that one big thing she’s frightened about is the well-being of her eight children and so it’s only logical that she might lapse back into a “wish” — a “lie” — that there really were a “Lord” to keep them safe.
But she herself doesn’t believe that for a minute. Something else made her say it; “she had been trapped into saying something she did not mean.”
So, what was it? Well, maybe concern for her kids. But we’ve said that. So here’s the big thing that “trapped” her: It was the blind force of habit.
7MORE AESTHETIC THINGS
Mrs. Ramsay defeated the power of the habit she’d been betrayed by, a victory greater than two or three hundred million Americans-Gone-Blind seem able to achieve. For them, habit is in their very blood, makes up the very stuff of their being, along with passivity, weakness, shortness of attention span, inability to delay gratification, and a general unwillingness — or inability — to engage with any idea above the third-grade level. And a good thing it is that that’s the way they are, since theirs are the very flaws and failures, in actuality, that are indispensable in first creating and then in maintaining the perfect American consumer.
And so we return to the New York Times editorial, “Ensuring Progress at Ground Zero.” In it, there arises the matter of erecting a structure that’s to be called the “Freedom Tower.” I ask, in the name of all that’s holy, where so unutterably repugnant an idea could first have come from? I know perfectly well that the germ was planted long ago and has since been nurtured for many decades whereby Americans-Gone-Blind can be made to accept anything. But can it really have come to so awful an extent as this, that they’ll not only swallow whole unprecedentedly gargantuan lies the likes of the 9/11 fakery, but then, in the most ugly, empty, tasteless, shallow, Howard Johnsonian, Disney-fascisti vacuity as this, will swallow the Great Lie of tacking onto a not-yet building at “Ground Zero” a dopey, dumb, daft, insulting, and totally disgusting moniker like “The Freedom Tower”?
And not even New Yorkers object? What’s happened to this country? There was once an America with a separate and highly gifted nation inside it that was called “New York.” In that nation, no mincing, fake, corporatized, wan, pale, homogenized, goody-goody, fraudulent, lying, deceitful name like “Freedom Tower” would have been tolerated for the time it takes to walk across the gangway of the Staten Island ferry, but would have been laughed out of town in what some people actually called a New York minute.
But — good god! — not even in New York any longer is there a population large enough of non Americans-Gone-Blind to set up a resistance and demand something honest, solid, rooted, and, above all, something drawn from what’s real and true.
Everyone in the nation should know — and I’m told that a hundred million of them do know — that that idiotic building shouldn’t even be built in the first place (more on that in a minute). But suppose that it were built (god forbid), it had better be named not the brazenly criminal “Freedom Tower” but, instead, “The Tyranny Tower,” or “The Cold-Blooded Murder Tower,” or “The Cowardly Sons of Bitches Tower,” or “The Neocon and Fascism Tower,” or “The Watch Us Crush 3,000 Human Beings and Give Not a Flying Fuck Tower,” or maybe “The Watch Us Make Steel Girders Turn to Dust!! Make Millions of Cubic Yards of Concrete Disappear!!! And Grind 3,000 Human Beings into Tinier Pieces than You’ll Ever Believe — and Still Not Give a Flying Fuck Tower,” or maybe “The Investment Methods of Elliot, Adolph, and Larry Tower” — but for the sake of truth, for the sake of simple dignity, for the sake of little babies and children, for the sake of all that’s living and all that’s blessed and kind, and all that’s good and true and vital and honest and dignified and worth living and all that’s human in life everywhere on the planet — don’t give it the corrupt, lying, insulting, unprecedentedly hypocritical name of the “freedom” tower.
One more thing about this threatened structure, a thing that’s even more inane, idiotic, absurd, tacky, and exponentially more stupid than the name proposed for it. I’m talking about the truly idiotic spire that’s been suggested as the perfect finishing touch, raising the building, in a virtual apotheosis of Fasco-Disney image and design, to the exact height of 1776 feet!
It’s the equivalent of eliminating the word for “Auschwitz” and renaming that dread and unconscionable place “The Fun Adventure Park for All-Around Family Participation.”
The annals of history, as all know or should know, burst with records of cruelty, ruin, and monstrous degradation. Yet even with competition as strong as all of history can provide, it can still be said that no general public culture in all of that history has ever been more degraded than our own has come to be degraded now.
8MORE INVESTMENTS IN MURDER,
Last spring’s story of big-investment’s steps toward the successful “development” of “Ground Zero” — that being an ugly, wrong, cheap, debased name straight from a made-for-TV-movie — extended from May 24th and “Insurers Agree to Pay Billions at Ground Zero” to the second of June and a piece (on page B2 this time) by Glenn Collins called “Memorial Unit at Ground Zero Lists Donors,” an article more than worth a look at we pass by on our way to the question of punishment for the perpetrators of the crimes we’ve been observing throughout this essay.
The Glenn Collins piece is short, with a title seemingly self-explanatory. In the interest of accuracy, though, let me add a word as to what the article is really about.
It’s about a phenomenon here in our own country that’s parallel to one in Germany when certain people , perhaps around 1936 or so, saw that their bread was buttered on one side rather than the other. Such people, in other words, tended to see that their interests would be better be served not by the communists or by any of the various other tatters of Weimar Germany, but by Hitler and his ever-strengthening plan for strength, security, profit, and success. Here and now, today in the U.S., in regard to the strength, security, profit, and success that are there to be gained by means of climbing aboard the 9/11 investment-bandwagon along with everything that that entails and represents — in regard to this bandwagon, unlike the Hitler one, no political parties are necessarily named or identified or adhered to or declared for, but they don’t need to be and even shouldn’t be. The coup in this country crosses party lines and offers an equal-opportunity opportunity for investors in its potentials for profit from blood, murder, genocide, and treason. A person either invests in that potential — or he or she doesn’t.
In other words, after the May 24th news about the unprecedentedly enormous insurance payouts, and after talk about the nine-billion-dollar return for investors just in this tiny little part of the entire 9/11-triggered strategy for takeover of the world — well, as carrion attracts vultures, investment plans attract investors.
The Collins article, in short, is about people deciding to invest money in the really promising war-and-enslavement cause of organized liars, traitors, fascists, neocon calumniators, destroyers of the Constitution, murderers, criminals against humanity, and destroyers of the earth — for the very good reason that certain people think they’ll make out a lot better by associating with these superbly organized and tightly knit criminals, fascists, and war-mongers than with — well, than with you or me.
In other words, every donor to the “Memorial Unit at Ground Zero” is also a traitor.
Let’s read a little bit. The article goes like this:
The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation announced a partial list of its major donors yesterday, showing a wide range of contributions from well-known figures and companies.
Leading the roster, with a $25 million gift, was the Starr Foundation, and closely behind at $15 million were Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who took over as chairman of the fund-raising effort last year; Deutsche Bank, the memorial’s neighbor in Lower Manhattan; and David Rockefeller.
Gov. Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey gave $2 million.
The lowest announced donation tier, the level of $10,000 to $99,000, included gifts from former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and his wife, Judith, and former Gov. George E. Pataki of New York.
How interesting it is! When you’ve got the New York Times, who needs comedians like Jon Stewart? Just look — what is it if not a race to see who can get his snout into the blood-investors’ trough first and deepest? The phrases tell all — “Leading the roster” and “closely behind” (Run, Bloomie, run!).
And then there’s poor busted up, speeding seat-beltless, model-for-all-citizens Corzine, limping way back at a puny two million. It almost makes you think of. Barbaro, the crippled race horse.
But best of all is that stingy and mendacious tightwad, Adolph, making do with tossing in chump change. But then of course he may know something about this 9/11 “memorial” — as he seems to have known about 9/11 itself — that we don’t. It’s a horse race of blood-investors, after all, investors in murder and nation-destroying, and nobody with the straight dope on a sure thing is going to put big money on anything less.
On a lighter note, speaking of bets, who’d like to put money down on whether or not there’ll be elections in November of 2008? We could start a pool (more about pools in just a minute) and see what happens. One of Giuliani’s first thoughts on 9/11, after all, was that his mayoralty should be extended indefinitely — making him King Giuliani. It looks to me as if he’s the guy to follow if you really want to get to where the stench is the strongest. One last thing on elections — and the question of whether we’ll be stuck with Cheney and his trained monkey for keeps. That one last thing is — be absolutely sure to read this article.
We’re about to close, and it’s time to get down to the serious triple business of spectacle, return on investment — and justice in punishment.
The Glenn Collins news piece says that “Five million visitors a year are expected” to visit the “Ground Zero” memorial. Let’s do some calculating.
Collins says that just the memorial itself — the “memorial, museum and aboveground pavilion” — will run to a cost of $600 million. That, of course (if I understand correctly), doesn’t count the cost of the Treason Tower itself with its 1776-foot-high spire. Certainly that amount, whatever it is, can be saved simply by not building the tower. But I’ve got a good idea beyond just not building the tower. It’s an idea that will bring a good return on investment, provide a well-deserved and highly enjoyable spectacle for the American public, and, finally, mete out true and appropriate justice to all the perpetrators of the crimes of 9/11 and of the crimes that have flowed from 9/11.
Furthermore, it will bring in far more than a mere five million visitors annually.
Some numbers. Five million a year is only about 14,000 visitors a day. Piffle. My plan will draw easily twice that number, in the vicinity of 28,000 a day. In fact, let’s round up to 30,000, since even that’s a conservative estimate.
Since this will be a public memorial, intended for citizen of the nation, we should make the entrance fee modest so as to be a barrier to none. I suggest perhaps five dollars,much less than the twenty-seven or twenty-eight dollars people are paying right now to see the “Bodies” exhibition down at the South Street Seaport.
Thirty-thousand visitors a day at five dollars each adds up to $150,000 a day, and for the year something just short of $55 million. This is money that could go to any number of worthwhile causes — increased local growing of food, say, lowering the infant mortality rate, helping schools become schools instead of either prisons or indoctrination centers, or even, god knows, lobbying for new laws that would require American corporations actually to begin paying income taxes.
So much, then, for some small idea of the many good and salutary things that could be done with the large amounts of money that my plan will earn. Now, however, let’s take a look at exactly how it comes about that literature is what will make it possible for that much money to come into existence in the first place.
Anyone who’s lucky enough to have been through a decent introductory literature course in college — “western” or “world” I don’t care, so long as it’s really literature — is more likely than others to remember the first part of Dante’s great epic poem, The Divine Comedy. Most of us don’t usually read the whole thing — in its three parts, the Inferno, the Purgatorio, and the Paradiso — but the standard part in college classrooms is the first and the most alluring, readable, riveting, and fascinating of the three, the Inferno, or that section describing the long hard journey Dante makes (guided by Virgil) into hell, down through the nine circles of same (with their several subdivisions), and, exactly thirty-four cantos of terza rima later, back up onto the surface of the earth — at the opposite pole he started from — on the eve of Good Friday, 1300 (Dante died in 1321), looking up at the stars.
I don’t know where, or if, you went to college, but if you did I hope you were able to make the Inferno journey under the direction of a decent and lively instructor. If either of those wasn’t the case — if the instructor wasn’t decent, or if you didn’t go to college or, even if you did go to college yet nevertheless didn’t read the Inferno — let me offer a tip: You can do it yourself. There are plenty of English translations to choose from, of every tone, manner, and sort, but I’d recommend the one by the late poet John Ciardi. It’s not always the most elegant translation — but Dante wasn’t always the most elegant poet, as Ciardi will entertainingly point out to you. Overall, though, from those I’ve read I think that Ciardi’s is the most honest, approachable, durable, unimpeachable, and above all un-fancified translation a person could hope for. There’s little doubt that translating it was a labor of love for him, and the book’s apparatus — headnotes, footnotes, introduction (get the 1953 one by Archibald T. MacAllister if you possibly can) — are the clearest, best presented, and most helpful you’ll find.
Now, to business. Once you’ve read the Inferno, or even part of it, you’ll know that one of Dante’s poetic and religious ideas is that each sinner in hell, or each category of sinner in hell, should necessarily be punished in a way appropriate to the nature of his or her sin — in what Ciardi calls Dante’s concept of “symbolic retribution.”
A famous example is that of the adulterous lovers, Paolo and Francesca — who in hell are swept around and around in a great wind, just as they were swept away by passion in life. Heresy for Dante was a sin narrowly defined — all you had to do was deny the immortality of the soul and — presto — you were a heretic. One such was the great general and warrior, Farinata degli Uberti, a towering figure of dignity and authority whom Dante revered deeply. This reverence came about because, after a battle in which Farinata had soundly defeated the defenders of Dante’s beloved home town of Florence, every one of the great military leader’s general staff advocated that he burn the city to the ground. But Farinata alone resisted, and the glorious city was saved.
Even so, no matter how much Dante loved and admired and respected and revered him, Farinata was also a heretic — and so, since he’d denied the immortality of the soul, his punishment was to lie for all eternity in a red-hot iron tomb that would cause eternal pain enough indeed to underscore the immortality of that soul. A last example is that of the grafters — specially interesting because graft was the sin falsely charged against Dante himself when, on pain of death should he return, he was exiled from Florence. One of the hundreds and hundreds of wonderful small details in the poem is Virgil’s warning to Dante that he’d “best not be seen / by these Fiends,” meaning the demons with grappling hooks who torment the grafters — since the demons might detect the “scent” of graft, albeit it a false one, on Dante.
The grafters, in any case, spend eternity in a river of boiling hot pitch — tar. Whenever one might surface — so much as a single buttock appearing above the surface of the pitch — the demons tear away at the flesh with their hooks. Ciardi explains the symbolic retribution:
The sticky pitch is symbolic of the sticky fingers of the Grafters. It serves also to hide them from sight, as their sinful dealings on earth were hidden from men’s eyes. The demons, too, suggest symbolic possibilities, for they are armed with grappling hooks and are forever ready to rend and tear all they can get their hands on.(The Inferno, New American Library, p.182)
And now, after this little introduction, we’re ready to leap forward again from the early 14th Century to the early 21st Century. With Dante as guide, we can now, at last, propose a “Ground Zero” memorial that’s genuinely and truly an appropriate one, a symbolically meaningful one, and a just one.
THINGS OF JUSTICE
On 9/11, an as-yet unknown number of our “leaders” behaved in the most grotesquely criminal, most cold-blooded, most self-interested, and most morally repugnant manner imaginable. It’s small matter whether the truly felling “attacks” on the twin towers came from airplanes or from something else entirely, as now seems a more real possibility than ever. The central matter remains the simple, pure, unmitigated, inhuman, repugnant criminality of what was done. That 9/11 was for so long planned, so carefully prepared for, brought ever so gradually to the point of readiness, and then at last executed under the watchful eye and dexterously controlling hands of its perpetrators — all this indicates the repugnant moral ugliness and utter inhumanity, the purely reptilian cold-bloodedness of those responsible for these despicable crimes against humanity and against republic, as well as for the many despicable crimes that have followed in the aftermath of those.
Despicable they were and despicable they remain, both the crimes and those who committed them. Certain hideous, ugly, vile, putrescent, malignant, purulent, gloating, murderous so-called human beings planned, organized, arranged, and finally put into action these crimes of murder, destruction, and treason — men with commonplace names like Frasca, Myers, Cheney, Giuliani, Hauer, and others — men such as these organized, planned, prepared for, and executed the crimes of 9/11, and, even worse, did so with the full intention of creating opportunity for yet more crimes — war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes against international law, crimes against the Constitution of the United States, and crimes against the republic for which that Constitution stands.
Simply think how disgusting, monstrous, despicable — to have known that the buildings were going to be brought down and not to have cleared them of thousands of people. To have known that the towers were going to be metamorphosed from steel and concrete into nano-particles of dust — and not giving people timeto get out before initiating the ten-second-long duration of the destruction of each building and the destruction of everything and everyone in them by means of heat so intense that not even steel beams could withstand that intensity without turning to spaghetti — incendiary, blazing, infernal heat — so we’re told — even though the sky was filled with sheets of office paper that never even did ignite but that fluttered down to the streets instead — and the same thing, or so we’re asked to believe, for Mohammed Atta’s passport.
And the firemen. And the cops. People above the impact floors were one thing — a thing hideous enough, since even they could possibly have been saved if 1) the doors to the rooftop hadn’t been locked, and 2) if the rescues had been made, by helicopter, etc., before the detonation-buttons were pushed. But, oh, no, criminals like our guys, criminals like Dick and Fred and George and Adolph and David and Larry — with guys like these, the buildings come down with all the firemen, with all the cops, with everyone else who’s still below the impact floors, innocent and outside-the-loop guys like John P. O’Neill — with all of them still inside.
Does anyone understand? Does anyone understand how a person like Adolph can actually be campaigning for President? Does anyone understand why every fireman in the entire country isn’t in open rebellion, insisting on avenging their murdered comrades, insisting upon accountability, truth, and justice? Does anyone understand why every cop in the entire country isn’t in open rebellion, insisting on avenging their murdered comrades, insisting upon accountability, truth, and justice? Does anyone understand why every plain person like all those plain people who were murdered, who either jumped a thousand feet or were ground into tiny bits of flesh and small slivers of bone or were chemically transformed into particles of dust — why every plain person isn’t in open rebellion, insisting on avenging their murdered loved ones and fellow citizens, insisting upon accountability, truth, and justice?
Are all of us nothing other than Americans-Gone-Blind?
Take a look at the way Adolph behaves in this clip, and then ponder for a moment how it can possibly be that he’s not only unconfined and walking around in public but actually running for the swear-word presidency of the United States!
Well. I’ll tell you what I’m voting for. I’m voting for a 9/11 memorial that would satisfy Dante as being a form of memorial that was just and fair and true to his high old fourteenth-century sense of morality, integrity, truthfulness, dignity, accountability, and trust — even if similar demands or requirements didn’t even register on the brains of two or three hundred million Americans-Gone-Blind.
My spirit be with the old poets.
I’ll do it alone if I have to.
But I know that I’d like as much help as I can get if I can get it. There’ve got to be some non Americans-Gone-Blind left who will come to aid in this cause.
Here’s what we do. We rent a bulldozer, go down to the site, and we doze out a good-to-generous pit, maybe a hundred-twenty by a hundred feet. Fifteen feet deep would do all right. And then — this would be simple; we could truck it in at first, then later pipe it in a continuous stream from the big commercial hog farms down south — we’d put liquefied and heated hog shit into the pit until it was full, up to half a foot from the top.
You already see the justice of the plan, I’m sure. The punishment symbolically represents the sin, just as in Dante, making it unquestionably just, fair, and appropriate.
As they showed no mercy to others, so now no mercy will be shown to them; as they immersed others in horror, so horror will be flooded over them; and, above all, as their sins against other human beings were the most vile and repugnant known to humankind — and as their own characters or selves were revealed to be the most vile and repugnant known to humankind — so they will now be immersed in the most vile and repugnant of substances known to humankind.
For as long as they live, these prisoners — prisoners taken, tried, and justly convicted in accordance with the laws of the land and the laws of nations — will live isolated in individual Guantanamo-style cells, held without the right of habeas corpus, held without right of appeal to any agency of humanity whatsoever, and held without right of appeal to any legal agency whatsoever. Twice each day, the criminals — you’ll know many by name, Dick and Fred and George, for example, Adolph and David and Ralph and Larry, the other George, then the other-other George, and of course Bill and Condi, Eliot, Paul, David and Melvin and Richard and Douglas, along with others certain to be unfamiliar — the criminals in any and all weathers will be brought en masse from their cells, naked, and will be required to stand in lines along pit’s edge, from which position, at a given signal, all will jump into the liquefied hogshit. Any prisoner proving recalcitrant or hesitating to jump will be forced in by the shoving of hands, the prodding of night sticks, or — if need be — the shooting by taser.
For Dante, such arrangements as these would have gone on throughout eternity. In our world, however, it being quite different from Dante’s, eternity is impossible. The punishments in our case can be arranged to continue only for so long as the life of each prisoner lasts. In this, they seem to me — personally speaking — considerably more lucky than those many sinners in Dante’s hell.
That said, the regulations will be such that prisoners will swim laps in the warm hogshit until reaching a point of exhaustion that causes them to sink from sight, whereupon one of twenty hydraulic arms stationed around the pit will reach out to the point where the prisoner disappeared. A claw-like device with net attached will be submerged and then rapidly brought back to the surface, sagging with the weight of the body of the exhausted prisoner, who will be lifted to the side of the pool and deposited there. If necessary, CPR will be administered before the prisoner is returned to his or her cell. Additionally, should a prisoner be discovered to have been faking exhaustion — that is, malingering — so as to be plucked the sooner out of the hogshit, that prisoner will be summarily thrown back into the liquefied hogshit and given three permanent demerit marks, designating him or her an uncooperative prisoner. (See below, under additional point number two.) It should be added that the requirement of disappearing beneath the surface of the hogshit before being plucked to safety from it (the plucking out being of course a clear suggestion of the mercy of the new, re-established state) is in keeping symbolically with the effort made by the 9/11 criminals to keep their own participation in the crimes hidden from view. As the guilty criminals hoped to remain unseen then, they now must become unseen beneath the quivering and stinking surface of the pool of hogshit.
Five additional points require mentioning before we close.
And so we end. I trust and pray that you will seriously consider the wisdom, justice, appropriateness, leniency, cost-effectiveness, and the potential for social and cultural improvement through its financial growth of my plan for the 9/11 memorial at the location so cynically named “Ground Zero” by those very criminals who “attacked” it.
1) Point one has to do with the safety and well-being of the estimated ten- to eleven-million annual visitors to the hogshit pits (there will actually be, as you’ll learn in a moment, two pits). Simple, safe, inexpensive bleachers will be constructed along two sides of each pit for onlookers’ seating. Not only because of the putrid stench but also because of the very real possibility of airborne irritants, pollutants, or diseases, each visitor will be required at all times when within less than thirty yards of the pits to wear “Adolph” brand respirators with certified and government inspected HEPA filters. No exceptions or waivers will be allowed. All respirators will be disinfected between uses.
2) Second, another specific aspect of the regulations governing the prisoners must be mentioned. Obviously, a great temptation is offered by the edge of the pool, whereby prisoners might often be inclined to swim along that edge in hope of stealing temporary rest or support by curling their fingers over the lip there and supporting their weight in that manner. Whenever guards (a great number of them retired New York City firemen and policemen, many others surviving family members of the murdered) observe this behavior, regulations require, first, that the prisoner be shoved back into the hogshit, and, second, that said prisoner, before being returned to his or her cell, be required to sink into and be retrieved from the pit not just once, but twice. This regulation, strictly observed, carries the quaint designation of “hogshitboarding.”
3) Finally, as is universally known, the crimes of 9/11 fall into two general categories, the first being commission of the original heinous crimes, the second being the aiding, abetting, or the covering up of those original heinous crimes. For this reason, the memorial site will consist not only of a single pit filled with liquefied hogshit, but of two pits. The second will be much longer and wider than the first, but at the same time much more shallow, having a uniform depth of exactly two feet. The reasons for these differences are, first, that for every single, willful, and actual committer of the 9/11 crimes, there exist as many as three or even four hundred abettors, aiders, or coverers up — so that a very great deal more physical area will be required for their punishment. The shallowness of the second pit, additionally — and obviously — symbolizes the ethical, emotional, and psychological shallowness of the aiders, abettors, and coverers up. An overwhelmingly great percentage of these sinners, after all, will be legislative assistants, corporate executives, or journalists, all of these categories of sinners being irredeemably corrupt and ethically vile creatures whose shallowness became especially well known and broadly self-evident in the years following 9/11.
4) The punishment of these categories of sinners will differ, too, from the punishment of the primary, actual committers. That all of these sinners are cowards goes without saying, and this is the reason why nakedness is required all the time. When cowards do evil, they hide behind their cowardice. Here, then, they are to be deprived of anything to hide behind. The aiders, abettors, and coverers-up will be required for a period of one full hour each day (in round-the-clock shifts, there being such multitudes of them) to wade through the shallower pit of liquefied hogshit and splash and spray and throw as much of the liquefied hogshit as energetically as they possibly can at one another. As in their post-9/11 careers they regularly, routinely, cynically, and criminally threw vileness, malignancy, fraud, falsehood, and deceit at their readers and at all normal citizens — who believed that they could trust the journalists and other abettors and coverers-up — so, now, they must be required to throw the equivalent vileness and corruption at one another and to have it thrown in turn at themselves.
5) Finally, at the end of each hour of wading and throwing, each sinner, before being permitted out of the liquefied hogshit pool, must lie down under the surface of it, disappearing from sight for a clocked period of no less than sixty seconds. As they sinfully and ruinously hid the truth from others, now they must suffer by themselves being hidden.
The names of many in this second category of sinners will be familiar, as in the cases certainly of the journalists and of the candidates for political office. In the shallow liquefied hogshit pool will be Frank and Matthew and Alexander, Amy and Ariana and Maureen, Nicholas and Michael and Thomas and David, and of course Jacob, and there’ll be the other Nicholas, and Gene, and Ted, and countless more. As for the corporate executives and corporate policy makers, and as for the myriad editors and publishers, let their names be memorialized by hollowness, vacuity, and emptiness, just as their entire careers were memorialized by those same shameful traits. Of other of the hollow names, however, great numbers will be familiar, like Sam, Jim, and Adolph, Chris, Hillary, Mike and the other Mike, Mitt, John, and George, Dennis, Bill, Barack, and the other John, and then, of course, Tommy, Fred, and Joe. In addition — though some will have been mentioned already — all four-hundred-thirty-five members of the House of Representatives will be seen in the shallow pool, where attempts to recognize them will typically comprise a great deal of spectator interest and competition, as will be the case also for all one-hundred members, aside from those already mentioned, of the United States Senate.
I hope and trust, further, that you will choose my plan over the absurd and criminal plan of Elliot, Adolph, and Larry. Finally, I trust also that you will allow me to recommend, as you work toward your decision, the following books. These volumes are filled not only with abundant evidence of the guilt of the true perpetrators of the crimes of 9/11 but also, therefore, with abundant evidence indicating why you should choose my memorial plan over that of Elliot, Adolph, and Larry.
If any reader should be interested in guidance regarding the distinctive merits and relative approachability of these books, or the different ways — depending on interest, prior knowledge, or time available to the reader — of approaching the list of them, I encourage that reader to click here.
I remain grateful to you for your consideration. Bless the republic.
— Eric Larsen
THE BOOKS OF EVIDENCE(2005) (2006) (2005). (2007)
Ahmed, Nafeez Mosaddeq. The War on Freedom: How and Why America was Attacked September 11, 2001 (2002).
Ahmed, Nafeez Mosaddeq. The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation, and the Anatomy of Terrorism. (2005)
Barrett, Kevin. Truth Jihad: My Epic Struggle Against the 9/11 Big Lie. (2007)
Barrett, Kevin, John Cobb, and Sandra Lubarsky. 9/11 and American Empire: Christians, Jews, and Muslims Speak Out. (2007)
Chossudovsky, Michel. America’s “War On Terrorism.” (2005)
Griffin, David Ray. The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11. (2004)
Griffin, David Ray. The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions. (2005)
Griffin, David Ray, and Peter Dale Scott. 9/11 and American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out. (2006)
Griffin, David Ray. Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11: A Call to Reflection and Action. ( 2006)
Griffin, David Ray. Debunking 9/11 Debunkers: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory. (2007)
Hicks, Sander. The Big Wedding: 9/11, the Whistle-Blowers and the Cover-Up.
Larsen, Eric. A Nation Gone Blind: America in an Age of Simplification and Deceit.
Marrs, Jim. The Terror Conspiracy: Deception, 9/11, and the Loss of Liberty (2006)
Morgan, Rowland, and Ian Henshall. 9/11 Revealed: the Unanswered Questions.
Ruppert, Michael C. Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil. (2004)
Scott, Peter Dale. The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America.
Tarpley, Webster Griffin. 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA (2006)
Zwicker, Barry. Towers of Deception: The Media Cover-Up of 9/11 (2006)
See “Books of Evidence” at the end of this essay for background on the extremely long planning and astonishingly complex execution of the crimes of 9/11. EL
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