I guess it was only a matter of time, but after Tuesday 11 September 2001, several people with their own agendas have bolted the facts of what happened onto their own beliefs and prejudices.
For example, take Jerry Falwell (please). He says that God Gave U.S. ‘What We Deserve,’. An excerpt:
I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’
Many serious commentators have warned the US government not to get carried away with the obvious response to the terrorist attacks (bomb Afghanistan back into the Stone Age). Just because the US/Nato/Western forces can do something doesn’t mean they should. As Robert X. Cringely quotes Twain in his The Pulpit column, “to a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail”.
So I guess it’s not surprising when a guy who has a favourite hammer (white-supremecy and anti-semitism) barely pauses for breath in the face of the events of 11 September, before going back to banging away at his favourite scape-goats. I sometimes stop by the web page of “Dr. William L. Pierce“, the author of the infamous novel The Turner Diaries. Dr. Pierce, whose doctorate is in physics I believe, has a weekly internet radio show called American Dissident Voices. It’s a diatribe of anti-Jewish nonsense delivered in a clipped, harsh, sometimes slobbering voice (I’m not kidding about the slobbering, you can actually hear it). The doctor is also not a fan of multi-culturalism, liberals, Operah viewers and “soccer moms” – which is code, I assume, for yuppies?
Not surprisingly, his latest “broadcast” blames “the Jews” for 11 September. I was kind of hoping for a slightly different opinion from him for once, but it’s the same old stuff. As he says (unwittingly describing himself), “one fundamental is that people do not change their nature, any more than the leopard changes his spots”. Most terrifying is his announcement that his organisation has just completed its first music video “with a message in both the music and the images”. Eminem better watch out coz the doctor is in da house – and as an unedited version of Dr Pierce’s show recently proved, he’s got the badass language of the streets down pat.
Back in the real world, some writers are gently pointing out that Americans can no longer ignore what their government does abroad. But in the man-with-a-hammer vein, the US Congress has reacted by introducing a bill to broaden the tapping powers of Federal authorities, including email and only allowing cryptography with CIA-approved backdoors. Depending on who you believe, it’s either a small amendment to bring Federal powers up to existing state powers, or it’s the beginning of the end of privacy. The bill is here and the debate is here. Alas, even if Bin Laden’s de-centralised organisation does use encrypted email, he’s unlikely to use encryption with CIA-approved backdoors. But from what I understand, Bin Laden doesn’t use high-tech. Heck, I doubt he frequently uses a telephone.
I suspect Australia will follow suit with similar legislation. Remember the Australia Card?
The US President is obviously planning a response, and it’s clear that his options frighten even him – especially as he’s meant to be a religious guy (I guess no-one wants to be the one to kick-start The End Times). He recently said, with tears in his eyes and a tremble in his voice, “I’m a loving guy. And I am also someone, however, who’s got a job to do and I intend to do it. And this is a terrible moment.” I can only shudder at the options before him.