"Your people will support what they help to create."
-- Laminated sign in airport security conference room
I wrote this in my journal on September 10, 2001 -- at 8:30 am according to my scrawl. I was obtaining my security credentials for my new job in Nashville International Airport -- which I could already tell was going to suck. The background check sucked. The drug test at the creepy outpatient clinic sucked. And now, this motivational poster sucked on general principles. Motivational office art already terrifies me, and this one was journal-worthy as the subtext clearly reads: "people will support the reality they create"
I considered my own graphic treatment:
The next day was September 11 and we've been been co-creating a reality not of our choosing ever since.
On television the night of the attacks, we saw a ritual of reality-creation that echoed my feelings about the poster. On the Capital steps, Congressional Republicans and Democrats linked arms and sang "God Bless America." They could have sang any patriotic anthem (the Star Spangled Banner might have have been more appropriate with it's reference to battle); they could have stood in silent reflection; but they chose to sing "GOD BLESS AMERICA." It seemed vulgar. We're a nation of laws, and this attack was already identified as originating from an Islamic country. The last thing we needed to do was call upon Christian idols in fear and anger.
Predictably, the attacks sent us headlong into an identity crisis. As we re-thought who we are, the Republicans staged the first battles in a new culture war. The creepy motivational poster extols the "usefulness" of co-created reality. On the Capital steps our leaders participated in a reality-producing ritual that in hindsight seems like a shotgun wedding between Republicans and Democrats to give a name to their illegitimate child -- the Iraq War.
A cable news anchor introduced the spectacle as "a remarkable tableau of party unity. Hastert took the mic:
Said Hastert: "we will stand together to make sure that those who brought forth this evil deed will pay the price... We're not sure who this is yet. But we have our suspicons and... when those suspcions are justified we will act. We will stand with the president.
Daschle takes the mic:
Said Daschle: "Today's desipicable acts were an assault on our people and on our freedom.... And we will speak with one voice to condemn these attacks... (and)... To commit our full support to the effort to bring those responsible to justice. We... stand strongly united behind the president and will work together to ensure the full resources of the government are brought to bear in these efforts."
In normal reality, these statements alone would have sparked a national debate. Their difference in tone portends the assault on democracy that has brought us to our "impeachment moment." Hastert's geared up to "avenge evil." Daschle calls for the perpetrators to be "brought to justice." The hegemon has already thrown the Constitution out the window. The loyal opposition squeaks "we have the flag, we will not let it touch the ground." The first words spoken in our time of crisis signal a giant "democracy gap."
A month later Daschle's office would be attacked with "weaponized anthrax" and that "democracy gap" scabbed over with Republican talking points.
As a matter of fact, no sooner had Congress began to negotiate Daschle's and Hastert's "democracy gap" in "the war terrorism," did the first set of anthrax-laced letters appear. On September 13 "a number of anti-terrorism bills were introduced into Congress. The first anthrax letter was sent to major US media on September 18 -- just five days after the first bill was introduced. You have to imagine hard-liners received an enormous boost in Congressional negotiations when the threat of biological weapons of mass destruction hit "home."
The first anti-terrorism bill was called Combating Terrorism Act of 2001, and was introduced by Republican Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) with Democrat Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Among its proposed measures, it ordered a report on the readiness of the National Guard to pre-emptively disrupt domestic acts of terrorism that used weapons of mass destruction and called for long-term research and development into terrorist attacks. It also called for a review of the authority of Federal agencies to address terrorist acts, proposed a change that would have allowed the CIA to recruit terrorist informants and proposed to allow law enforcement agencies to disclose foreign intelligence that was discovered through wiretaps and other interception methods.