Thursday, September 11, 2008

December 7, 1948

By the seventh annversary of Pearl Harbor, the year 1948 had been an eventful one:

New Jersey opened the year with a shiny new State Constitution. The first color (!) newsreel showed the 1948 Tournament of Roses Parade and the Rose Bowl. The first stirrings of NATO were heard in Brussels, while in India Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse. A whole bunch of new nations turned up: Sri Lanka, Israel, South Korea, The Hells Angels were founded! President Harry Truman signed the Marshall Plan authorizing $5 billion in aid for 16 countries. The Costa Rican Civil War ended in April, while the Arab-Israeli War started in May. Public Law 557 permanently established the Civil Air Patrol as the auxiliary of the United States Air Force.Canada admitted the Newfies to the Dominion, an act they've surely regretted since.

The freakish June flood of the Columbia River wiped out the WW2 Kaiser factory town of Vanport, Oregon within minutes: 15 people died and tens of thousands were left homeless.Most of the "tens of thousands" were black, and the racial profiling and ghettoization of these people in Northeast Portland that began that 1948 summer has sickened Portland for generations.

Also in June three armed men hijacked the Cathay Pacific passenger plane Miss Macao and shot the pilot. 1 of 27 onboard survived the crash. Albert I, launched into space from White Sands, New Mexico, becomes the first Space Monkey. Also in June, a State of Emergency was declared in Malaysia for communist insurgency.

The Coptic and Ethiopian Churches reached an agreement that lead to the promotion of the Ethiopian church to the rank of an autocephalous Patriarchate. Five bishops were immediately consecrated by the Patriarch of Alexandria, and the successor to Abuna Qerellos IV was granted the power to consecrate new bishops, who were empowered to elect a new Patriarch for their church.

In July Truman began the second peacetime military draft in the United States that marked an increasingly tense Cold War. He also signed Executive Order 9981, which ended racial segregation in the United States Armed Forces. The Cleveland Indians defeated the Boston Braves to win the World Series, four games to two, the last time the Tribe would see October for 47 years and the last ever Cleveland win.China was in the last stages of the sick debilitation Kuomintang rule and the East would soon be Red. The horrors of Mao were many years to come.

Truman defeated Thomas E. Dewey and Strom Thurmond for the US presidency. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi divorced his second wife, the former Princess Fawzia of Egypt and Geoffrey B. Orbell rediscovered the Takahē, last seen 50 years ago, near Lake Te Anau, New Zealand. President Rómulo Betancourt of Venezuela was ousted by a military coup while the Calgary Stampeders defeated the Ottawa Rough Riders 12-7 to win their first Grey Cup and completed the only perfect season in Canadian Football up to that time.Ozzy Osbourne was born.

In Tokyo, an international war crimes tribunal sentenced seven Japanese military and government officials to death, including General Hideki Tojo, for their roles in World War II.

Seven years ago today Mojo and I were in bed (the first plane hit, what, something like 6:10am PDT?). Her radio alarm clock went off and she whacked the snooze bar but not before I heard something about planes and towers and I got up and went out to the living room and turned on the TV and there it was.

I sat and watched, thinking "This is got to be some kind of islamist group". I got a call from my then-friend Jeff Lillebo; I can remember shouting into the phone "This is Pearl Harbor, goddam it! Pearl Harbor!!"

I was so furious. I volunteered for Afghanistan; I wanted to find bin Laden and his people and rain my artillery on them until there wouldn't even be parts big enough to bury. I burned, I was on fire with anger at the callous waste of life.And then it all went wrong.

Missing the World's Tallest Saudi at Tora Bora and then the foolish distraction of Iraq, and the callous misuse of our power. The lies, and the spin, and the bullshit, and the crony capitalism, and the plans to use my fury, all our fury, for political gain and the enrichment and empowerment of a group of ruthless neoimperial bastards.

Seven years after Pearl Harbor we had moved on. We weren't chasing Tojo and Hirohito: they were in the dock, or reigning under our hard gaze. We weren't spending billions to fight a "Global War on Fascism". We'd been there, done that, got the T-shirt three fucking years before. Nope. We were still worried, but now we were worrying about the Red Menace and Israel and the Two Chinas and the GI Bill and the new federal highways and unionization and television and rock n' roll and teenage rebellion.

Seven years after 9/11, we're stuck in Groundhog Day and I just don't care anymore. Bin Laden has become, like the flu or like natural male enhancement, something that
cynical hucksters use to bilk the rubes. For the past two years I've posted the usual solumn reflection on the innocent people who died that day.

Fuck that.

We lost the right to parade that goddam bloody shirt when the first baby died in a mistaken bomb run over Baquoba or hapless taxi driver got sodomized at Bagram Air Base.Now we're just another Great Power on the make, another Smedley Butler racketeer using our dead and our grieving to justify our own damn greed and fear.

Fuck that. Fuck all that. Who'd have thought that we would let nineteen yay-hoos with boxcutters and screwdrivers and a bunch of panicked politicans yank a nation so far off the road of national self-interest and sanity?

Update 9/12: Paul Campos over at Lawyers, Guns and Money says everything I've said and says it better. I like his money grafs:
"Consider that for every American murdered by terrorists on September 11, 2001, fifty have been murdered by ordinary everyday made-in-America violence in the seven years since.
Consider that for every American murdered by terrorists, somewhere between 200 and 600 Iraqis have died as a direct consequence of our invasion of that country: a country which had nothing to do with 9/11, although perhaps 100 million Americans still don’t understand this -- a fact which itself is a direct and intended consequence of the Bush administration’s calculated lies.
Consider that the money spent, so far, on the invasion of a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks would be more than enough to pay off the entire mortgage of every foreclosed home in the United States.
You will hear nothing like this from any national politician today, because the Cult of 9/11 considers any criticism of its central principle to be a horrible heresy.
Instead we will get phony mourning and simulated grief, from our leaders and our media, as they continue to pretend that the events of that terrible day justify the money, and the invasions, and the torture, and the lawbreaking, and all the other very real transformations of our national life that have been undertaken in the name of our dread of a threat that, in all truth, might as well be as imaginary as the killer in a horror film."

Well. Fuck THAT.


Ael said...

You said: "Canada admitted the Newfies to the Dominion, an act they've surely regretted since."

It was 1949, and I assume that when you said "they", you meant the Newfies regretted joining Canada.

FDChief said...

ael: my bad - the news summary I googled up had the Canucks and the Newfies hugging in December, 1948.

Not sure WHO got the better part of that deal...

Ael said...

The whole process of bringing in Newfoundland took quite a while. It went from the referendums in the summer of 48 to the end of negotiations in December, to the final legal signatures in March 49.

In any case, having been born after 49, I find it hard to conceive of Canada without Newfoundland and Labrador.

An interesting academic question is whether the newfies would still have cod, if they hadn't of joined Canada.

I suspect that London would have sold them out in much the same manner that Ottawa did.

I also agree that it is well past due to move beyond 911. There are much bigger fires burning than the islamic terrorist ones. I am very concerned that nobody seems to be minding the store.

Charles Gittings said...

"Who'd have thought that we would let nineteen yay-hoos with boxcutters and screwdrivers and a bunch of panicked politicans yank a nation so far off the road of national self-interest and sanity?"

Dick Cheney and David Addington -- fuck them.

FDChief said...

You'd be right, Charles, except that these bastards have no authority beyond what we, the People, grant them. At least, that's the theory and what's on the paper we purport to live by in this country. If they are in the wrong, we are supposed to make thing right by, if necessary, impeaching, convicting and imprisoning them.

We have not.

And, as such, WE are the problem. Fuck US

Charles Gittings said...

Well FDC, if I had a magic wand I'd have waved it long ago.

Each of us can do what we can do, and we have to stick together.