David Roberts @drvox Seattleite transplanted from Tennessee; now blogging for vox.com/ about energy politics. Climate hawk, deficit dove. Not a doctor. Apr. 13, 2019 3 min read

1. All right, one more angry Saturday rant & then I'm gonna go outside & have a life. Let's talk about 9/11, shall we? There's a kind of national mythology that's built up around it: that moment when tragedy brought us together & reminded us of what we all shared. Right?

2. It's one of the most fiercely defended & expansively buttressed national myths we have, almost sacrosanct. But let's be real: that's not what happened. That's not how "we" responded. Even then, the national American "we" was already dead & gone.

3. Sure, in the immediate aftermath, for a day or two, when it was about tending to the affected, finding bodies, arranging basic care, there was a sense of unity. But it was fleeting & ephemeral. Within 48 hours, the right was using it to stoke reactionary backlash.

4. You see, when most people on the center & left envisioned a moment of unity, they envisioned a *cosmopolitan* moment -- i.e., a moment when we realize that even with our diverse cultures & commitments, we share a common devotion to the American ideal. An *ideal* unites us.

5. What the right envisioned (& immediately set out to enforce) was a *tribal* moment of unity. In their eyes, the attacks should have reminded us of our white patriarchal Christian core & renewed our commitment to it. Our blood&soil identity *as a people* unites us.

6. That was the right's take, immediately & ever since: see? The world is bloody & violent & we have to take care of our own, put up walls, crack down on the Other. Enough frivolous talk about diversity & peace & compassion, they are just weakness. Now is a time for strength!

7. In practice, that meant racism, warmongering, & increasing tolerance for lies & corruption as long as they were lies & corruption in service of the right tribe. It meant renewed attacks on the left, not just as mistaken, but as treasonous & unAmerican, in league w/ the Enemy.

8. If you didn't live through the aftermath, you really can't appreciate the endless macho fantasizing of "war bloggers" & the relentless attempts to silence political opposition. Every fearful, angry reactionary impulse was unleashed & celebrated, including by the MSM.

9. Consequently, the US utterly botched its response to 9/11. Utterly. On every level. We took unified global sympathy & turned it to anger & contempt. We invaded the wrong f'ing country, at a cost of trillions. We ratcheted up the surveillance/police state & security theater.

10. Congress utterly surrendered authority over warmaking. "The troops" became a talisman to justify unlimited military & police-state spending. On & on & on. By any reasonable metric, the US comprehensively fucked up its response, exposing to the world how hollow it had become.

11. And why? Because the GOP was in charge. And the GOP -- its media, its base -- had already been taken over by resentful white ethnonationalists. The fight we're having today, out in the open? We were already having it then, we just never wanted to admit it.

12. So no, 9/11 was not a monument to national unity. Rather, it was the event that brutally exposed our fundamental division. It showed that there are 2 Americas: a blood&soil, reactionary, white-patriarchal-Christian America, & a multiethnic, democratic, rule-of-law America.

13. Reactionary America sensed opportunity on 9/11 & immediately used to to push & enforce its worldview. As usual, then & now, the other America was disengaged, disinclined to fight, endlessly naive & credulous about its opponents, & attached to a bunch of moldy myths.

14. So this fight we're having today, over Omar? It's the same fight we've been having since 9/11. The same fight that was gathering well before that. It's white enthnonationalism, enforced by the state, or its multi-ethnic, cosmopolitan democracy.

15. The right gets this. The left has hidden from it, comforted by masturbatory West Wing-style fantasies about our Deeper Unity. It's time for the left to acknowledge that Obama was wrong. We're not one America. We're two. And if one doesn't triumph, the other will.

16. There's no avoiding the fight. So let's fucking fight it. </fin>


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