As you've undoubtedly read or heard by now, the War on Terror showed up in Portland, Oregon, Thanksgiving week. News like this permeates the public consciousness relatively instantly, key details doomed to be forgotten just as fast, if ever noticed in the first place. What folks are likely to remember is that a young Somali American Muslim allegedly attempted to blow up Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland, Oregon and everyone there attending the annual Black Friday Christmas Tree Lighting. Plenty was known of Mr. Mohamud's motivation within minutes of his arrest, a full biographical profile worthy of Lee Harvey Oswald or Osama Bin Laden widely available online, the news readers of the world learning the suspect thought "9/11 was awesome" and that he'd been inspired by the Mumbai attacks--an entire litany of bloodthirsty statements were attributed to the 19 year-old suspect, allegedly lifted from his email account, a virtual synopsis of his FBI dossier was laid out neatly over the AP and Reuters wires.
All weekend and into Monday, one overheard folks left trembling at the prospect that they could have been there, then, when Mohamed Osman Mohamud, had he had his hateful druthers, would have wrought holy jihadist horror, killing and wounding as many innocent American Christmas tree fawners as possible. Specifically, the media told us, "the terrorist' relished the fact that children would be included amongst the carnage.
The articles appeared as straight-forward reportage, which in too many ways, they were. Responding to "tips,' the FBI began surveying the suspect's emails and approached him unsolicited, claiming to be Al Qaeda big-shots capable of enabling the would-be terrorist's murderous yearnings. The Feds allowed the plot to reach its inevitably futile conclusion--the bomb Mr. Mohamud allegedly believed he'd be detonating when he dialed a secret Al Qaeda code into a cell phone, was never a genuine bomb. Strangely, the public seemed to feel no less saved.
As I waited in line to go through the metal detector at the Federal Courthouse, before Mr. Mohamud's arraignment the Monday following Thanksgiving, two severely overweight white women chagrined the new reality within their sleepy smallish big American city scene: "Well, it's just not safe to attend any public gatherings anymore," one said to the other. "We were right there! And I had little Jakey with me!!--I don't know what I would have done, we were right in the thickest part of the crowd--I would have had to throw him as far as I could," the other one replied, adding, "I can't believe more people aren't here!" I want to interject, "There never was any THREAT of danger--It was an FBI plot, they were in control of the situation the whole time!--The situation being a FAKE bomb", but I said nothing and just gazed at the gathering of sorrowful Somalis, their eyes still riddled with shock, terrorized expressions on their faces. Are the two white ladies I witnessed reeling in horror representative of the way the average American is internalizing the latest headline from the War on Terror? (a war labeled upon its inception, by its originators, as inherently endless)--I have no reason to believe it isn't, nor do I think Mr. Mohamud's "Not Guilty" plea and the entrapment defense his attorneys plan on asserting will do much to counterbalance the condemnation of this kid in the public mind, which remains cleaved by petty issues, unified by an undying belief (driven by deaf notions of blind patriotism) in the Other. There is no peace lobby in this country--no vested interests pushing for a reexamination of this War on Terror at its root, the ultimate act of domestic terrorism, pulled off nearly a decade back, by perpetrators (whoever did it) who remain unpunished.
Since those 2,966 people (not all of whom were American) died on 9/11, our policies of military imperial aggression have been responsible for no less than one hundred times that many civilian casualties within the Muslim World--secret prisons erected all over the Middle East, Guantanamo still up and running, Wikileaks reports of rampant raping, beheadings, American officials calling for the leaders of that organization and the hackers who support it to be executed--it's too much for most people to fathom, let alone think about. 300,000 deaths is a conservative estimate, but even if it were 30,000 (it may be closer to 3,000,000), (or a "mere' 5,000 as Tom Brokaw recently underestimated), the message is clear, whatever the number (no need to actually count the dead with God on your side), however one attempts to quantify the rape, pillage and plunder, the homicidal mayhem we've inflicted since 9/11, all of it has been deemed acceptable as part of a jingoistic set of largely unchallenged assumptions, chiefly, that these human beings were killed as part of a genuine effort to keep America safer. Mistakes are inevitable, in war, we're told. We're also told that the "Collateral Damage" has been "regrettable" and similar calluses have developed where unadulterated remorse belongs. As time and deaths mount, it's becoming less acceptable to question the inherent deplorability of an eye for an eye madness, one that's blind to the reality that for all the people we've killed and are killing, none of them can be linked to 9/11, the catchall impetus that unjustly attempts to rationalize the onslaught. The most odious aspect of this particular rationalization, this explanation for why war isn't a racket, is the impossibility that our post 9/11 policies have done anything but exponentially increase the number of human beings with bloodlust for anyone with any connection whatsoever to the American Empire, the legitimacy of their bloodthirstiness rising every hour, as the corporate war complex's crusade to interlope upon Muslim countries for profit cruelly enough to earn George W. Bush's infamous assessment of the endless war he helped launch. Purposely ignoring every notion of diminishing returns, we create our enemies as we go, through our actions and the inherent hypocrisies embedded therein. They're crazy Muslims and we're just rational freedom-loving Americans--though many of us never bought it--that's what's been bought and sold to the masses that cannot connect the military industrial complex to the economic woes, that tacitly support wars they're not being called upon to actively fight in, who are willing to believe that there must be something inherently righteous about this endless War on Terror, who believe the killing done thousands of miles away has not been indiscriminate, who will believe that even if it is proven that the FBI did in fact entrap this college kid, that this sort of fascism is right and proper, a lesser evil necessary to combat the greater evil of Islamic extremism. These are the multitude of Americans cast as willing pawns in the war racket, who believe God is on our side in all of this and that even if ten million Muslims die, it will be justified, because they killed us on September 11th.
The mass media has nonchalantly advocated on behalf of the government's post 9/11 policies, presuming legitimacy at every turn. The tacit acceptance (through the omission of any critical analysis by the media and in turn, the public) of the President's unquestioned prerogative to assassinate Americans, CIA drone attacks and FBI counter terrorism stings such as the one that snared Mr. Mohamud, are but the latest twists in the symbiotic circle between herded sheep and sheepherder, representations of a nexus of ignorance and illusion.
particular illusion involving Mr. Mohamud reveals itself as so (as
they all do), when one mildly examines points the mainstream media
neglect to challenge. Even if he did everything they say he
did--wrote droves of emails, ineptly attempting to join up with the
Jihad wherever they'd have him--until the Feds got involved, there
was one desolate Muslim-American kid, who could have become
de-radicalized if another path had been taken--had he been reached
out to. They took this kid and gave him top-billing in their
dramatic sting, at some point very important people deciding that
cases like Mohamed Osman Mohamud's should be a top priority. So
the FBI deceives him into believing he was joining Al Qaeda, when
they could just as easily blackmail him into the uneasy existence of
a lifelong informant, using taxpayer dollars to fund a program
destined to terrify the taxpayer with a reality the FBI was
duplicitous in creating. The fear of an Al Qaeda conspiracy
(people have no trouble accepting this conspiracy theory)
has become so engrained, otherwise intelligent people, when reminded
of the fact that the FBI had only protected the public from their own
plot, respond, "Well, he would have found a way to do it anyway."
Another one I heard: "They're just weeding out the people that
want to hurt us." Even in Portland, Oregon, those of us who
believe the entire War on Terror is nothing but a giant murderous
hoax of jingoism and war profiteering, a fascist plot spun completely
out of control, those of us who feel the
tyrannical tickle of a Police State that still wears kid gloves, at
least domestically, we remain a minority. The prevailing reaction
here has been : "The FBI is awesome!" (said just
that glibly) There's an old JFK speech in which he characterizes
the American mindset as healthily skeptical of secret societies,
secret police agencies--in short, that America is not a nation of
Gestapo worshipers, that we Americans reject the fetishes of
I seriously doubt JFK's assessment was
correct when he made it, but it certainly ain't true today.
Today's generation has never heard of
the COINTELPRO fascism of the Cold War Era. They don't know what
the Gulf of Tonkin Incident was, let alone that it was one of the
more significant events in world history to have never taken
place. They have been immaculately conditioned to accept every Lone
Nut theory when a white Christian commits some terribly heinous act,
while accepting with equal vigor, that every action taken by every
Muslim the world over is inherently interconnected, part of a vast
conspiracy of unexplainably irrational rage--pure hatred so
contaminating it must be eradicated by any means necessary.
Soon they won't need fake bombing plots to convict kids like Mohamed Mohamud--and in fact, they don't now, making the whole story even more suspicious. If we're to believe the information the Feds intercepted, which Mr. Mohamud had allegedly been transmitting, then the Patriot Act certainly would have allowed for his indefinite detainment, on vague charges of planning to plot terrorist acts at a later date--if he'd gotten that visa to Yemen he allegedly sought, Commander-in-Chief Obama would have been well within his directive, as he views it, to have this terrorist-sympathizing American citizen assassinated with impunity.
And where was the all-seeing, all-knowing FBI when the mosque in Corvallis was firebombed?
At the courthouse, I saw a handful of Mr. Mohamud's college buddies being interviewed. They're his age, all probably under 21. These youngsters were being interviewed by some frumpier media members with no hope of seeing the court proceedings upstairs. They ask inane questions: Which video games did he play? Who was his favorite basketball player? The kids repeat a dumbfounded mantra of Mohamed being the regularest of dudes imaginable. The reporting on the case has reflected this--that everyone who knows Mohamed Osman Mohamud, except the FBI team of Al Qaeda impostors, can't imagine him as a terrorist; they picture him drinking beer at football games with frat boys.
Despite Attorney General Holder's assurances to the contrary, cases such as these (promulgating of late http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6B75MU20101208) are coups for the political contingent in this country aiming to further demonize the Islamic World. Homegrown terrorism is the media's buzzword to describe this particular subset of enemy in the War on Terror. They are always defined, purposely or unconsciously, as middle class with cushy existences, diminishing the reader's capacity to empathize, or if not empathize (as the Bible and Science both mandate), then to understand. Whatever the reality may be, everyone can agree that convictions in cases like the one brought against Mr. Mohamud will be giant defeats for the side that argues intensified scrutiny of Muslim Americans is both blatantly unconstitutional and unwarranted. This Mohamud kid was ten years old when 9/11 went down. More than half his life has unfolded under the umbrella of the War on Terror and the grinding gears of a Draconian legal system fueled by overtly anti-Muslim inertia. One doesn't hear much about Osama Bin Laden anymore--we hear about sh*t like this.
And most people seem to conclude straight away (deciding in an instant and forgetting everything else about the case just as instantly), having been fed the facts filtered through media windshield, tinted FBI black, that the vigilance of an FBI program such as this is warranted. We'll never know, nor will we ever learn what precisely went down between the suspect and the clever Feds who duped him--we'll never know for instance, if some benevolent fatherliness was exhibited by one of his pseudo-mentors, as the Feds may claim in court, that they tried repeatedly to talk the suspect out of it. And the suspect may claim no such discouragement ever came, that quite the opposite was the case, that the FBI impostors performed their roles realistically, reminding the young extremist of the virtues of martyrdom and explicitly encouraging him to be brave and not back out.
worst, if he's everything the FBI claims him to be, this kid's
bloodlust is nothing more than a mirror of a fragment of the mass
murder that's been imposed on the Muslim World since 9/11.
In a story about the latest CIA drone attacks in Pakistan, there was a picture of protesting Pakistanis holding up signs with simple slogans one might see similarly held at an antiwar rally here at home--U.S.A. IS THE REAL TERRORIST--and the question that went unasked before 9/11 and certainly hasn't been publicly wrestled with since, is the validity of that notion, which most Americans believe is pure fantasy. What's readily accepted outside the corporate borders of the American media, is simply not found on our airwaves. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have been miscast as the Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez, along a political landscape absent of such figures. Nothing in the mainstream discourse acknowledges the pure criminality of our actions, which have terrorized hundreds of millions of people, beginning with the native peoples that inhabited this continent before we got here, to the souls unfortunate enough to be born in the lands we terrorize today. Call it whatever you like, we're scouring the earth for evildoing bad guys, whose alleged crimes consist of being associated with, or being accused of being associated with forces aiming to resist the hegemony of American military authority through struggle, both armed and unarmed. But it's going beyond that, as this Portland case, and others like it, demonstrate. All those who admiringly sympathize with those our government deems terrorists, who think of themselves as freedom fighters, who have fantasies of joining this cause, all the terrorists out there whose terrorism takes place in their minds--we're finding them. It's a slippery slope pointed downwards towards the day when a phrase like Thought Police will have more tangible meaning than it already does.
In the eyes of our allegedly benevolent secret police leadership questioning is becoming dangerously close to tantamount to dissent, a scary reality. Passive opposition, simple manifestations of nonconformity, refusals to immediately castigate all miscalled conspiracy theories as inherently cuckoo upon categorization as such, anything that threatens the National Attitude toward Islam is unwelcome. THEY killed us on 9/11 and forevermore, it's anything goes . . . 2001 was our Year Zero, 1.57 billion Muslims condemned for a crime that never went to trial, guilty by association with a madman they'd never heard of, in all likelihood, before he was convicted by the corporate media mouthpiece of the American government--who, not incidentally, the Taliban is still waiting on to provide proof of Osama Bin Laden's guilt, so they might execute our bogus desire to extradite him. Every time we see a front page mug shot of somebody like Mohamed Mohamud, it subliminally justifies the death of every innocent civilian killed in the War on Terror, because they're all potential terrorists.