It’s been a decade since the day that changed everything -- or at least, the one that finally laid it all bare. Over the years, I’ve tried to confront it, rewrite it, debunk it, historicize it, mock it, and ultimately ignore it, all to no avail. It’s not going anywhere, this Trojan Horse of the new millennium, this farce that launched a thousand ships. We’re stuck with it, even though no matter how we crunch the numbers it still doesn’t really add up. Or does it?
As it turned out, homeland insecurity was the perfect foil for the hegemony of Homeland Security. Now the architects of Total Information Awareness can legally be in our phone calls, our emails, our bank accounts, our library cards, our internet browsers, our peace groups, our medical records, our gonads, our heads, and our hearts. We’ve been hornswoggled, hoodwinked, and hijacked into accepting pervasive incursions into every vestige of individual liberty and political democracy -- all done quite ingeniously in the name of protecting liberty and preserving democracy.
The mathematics are Machiavellian and their logic is inescapable. For the mere price of 3000 souls, the return on investment has been exponential: tens of thousands tortured, hundreds of thousands killed, millions relentlessly survived, billions frightened lest they be next. It is the dream of real numbers, the holy grail of realpolitik, a down payment on the permanent war economy, a blank check for purchasing the dreams of future generations. It is, in short, the emperor’s handcrafted new clothes in full regalia.
Surely this design was carefully vetted before the course was locked in and the data disseminated. Someone clearly calculated the risks and rewards, deciding that vulnerability and invincibility could not only coexist but were necessarily conjoined. The technicians of empire crassly concluded that, in the final analysis, our grief would be exactly the thing to be turned into a constant cry for war.
George W. Bush will never be remembered for his brainpower, although in retrospect he may actually have been a lot smarter than he appeared. In fact, he helped to invent a whole new system of millennial math in which you start with a surplus, then subtract a trillion or so for bailouts and another trillion or two for war, add in a few million lost jobs, and then claim to be a uniter while actually dividing up the spoils -- yielding a sub-prime figure that represents the difference between real and imaginary numbers.
Perhaps the most impressive feat, of course, was turning the tragedy of 9/11 into a permanent Orwellian architecture of repression and surveillance. Yes, theories still abound about the true origins of this seminal episode in American history, just as some misguided revisionists have concocted confabulations around similar “trigger events” like the Alamo, the Maine, Pearl Harbor, the Gulf of Tonkin, WMD, and more. Suggesting that any or all of these could have involved massive cover-ups or gross political distortions flies in the face of common sense and good manners alike. Plus it can give you a serious headache.
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No, it’s much better to accept the official conspiracy theory rather than the unofficial ones skulking around the web. So what if a 2004 Zogby poll found that half of New York City believed that our leaders had foreknowledge of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, yet “consciously failed to act.” Does it really make a damn bit of difference that a 2006 Scripps Howard poll concluded that a third of all Americans suspected that 9/11 was “an inside job” by our own government? Are we supposed to start trusting Americans to know what’s going on in the world? I think not.
We need to use Occam’s Razor in situations like this, which simply states: “Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.” In other words, we should find the simplest explanation for events and not add greater complexity through needless extrapolation. Americans may love a good conspiracy tale, but in this case the facts don’t lie: we were attacked on a day whose numbers mean “emergency” by fundamentalist militants intent on destroying our economy, undermining our values and principles, and causing us to untenably extend our military forces in a misguided response to their terrorist aggression.
Luckily, we saw right through this sinister plot and prevented all of this from happening. Okay, so the economy has tanked. Sure, we’ve shredded the Constitution and ushered in a complete surveillance state. Fine, the quagmire in Iraq has been framed on both ends by a quagmire in Afghanistan. But we are going to win this thing and defeat evil in the end! We’re Americans, dammit, and even if a whole bunch of us stupidly believe that our own government blew up our own buildings and killed our own people -- by god, we are still going to kick some ass and show the world what we’re made of. False flag or not, the stars and stripes will forever fly wherever freedom rings, even if it’s getting harder to hear its peal.
So to all of you conspiratorial holdouts, so-called “truthers,” nutty New Yorkers, paranoiac physicists, screwball stock-optioners, cerebrally-challenged celebrities, and the rest of you 100 million or so wingnuts, let me just say that it’s time to wake up, grow up, and move on. Stop playing X-Files with this stuff and start playing X-Box instead. The truth isn’t out there -- it’s right in front of your face, and it will set you free. Whatever you think you see is illusory; the tides of history are by now all water under the bridge; the cold hard facts are undeniable even as you fumble for the still-warm “smoking gun.”
Drone strikes, smart bombs, airport scans, renditions, Abu Ghraibs, Guatanamos -- all wrapped in reams of red, white, and blue bunting -- are truer than your “truths.” As Orwell himself once said: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face -- forever.” Or, like the bumper sticker casually confirms, “It’s God’s job to judge the terrorists; it’s the Marine’s job to arrange the meeting.” History will vindicate our resolve, the terrorists will be completely eradicated, and the next decade will finally show the world that no one can bring down the United States except ourselves, by golly.
To sum up on this auspicious anniversary, it comes down to the sheer force of numbers. All these years we were taught that nine plus eleven equals twenty, but that was a lie … it adds up to 1984. I know this now. Victory at last! And in the end, I really do love the new millennial math after all.