Yesterday on the Atlantic City Expressway, at the sprawling Frank S. Farley rest stop, I remembered how quickly 9/11 became a device for generating hatred while at the same time lulling Americans into swallowing lies about costly, undeclared wars.
All around me was fast food and the poor people who eat it or serve it. In the middle of the floor was George W. Bush, on a large flat-screen TV, praising American troops who
… have risked and given their lives to prevent our enemies from attacking America again. They’ve kept us safe, they have made us proud, and they have upheld the spirit of service shown by the passengers on Flight 93 …
Lulling is the right word. Many people have yet to realize Bush used 9/11 as an excuse to wage war, not long after he’d led the successful charge to lower the taxes of the super-wealthy, or that these actions are the main reasons we’re mired in a seemingly incurable economic slump.
Or that the death toll from the 9/11 attacks is small compared to that of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Or that Bush’s reasons for starting those wars had nothing to do with preventing attacks on America.
Or that patriotism is not only the last refuge of a scoundrel. It’s also an effective defense strategy for elected officials who broke the law in order to further enrich their rich friends and patrons. It’s a stick that can be used to beat those who suggest the scoundrels are also criminals.
No American court will ever try Bush or Dick Cheney or the others, partly because the scoundrel’s rule of thumb is the same as the fast-food marketer’s: Don’t just lie — lie big. Sell them Coke by the half-gallon and call it medium-size. Ignore the measly burger and push the Whopper. Would you like a rancid hunk of cheese with that, sir?
Now that’s a tasty burger!
Footnote: The Bush team’s strategy for selling their wars to the public could have been lifted from Joseph Goebbels, who wrote:
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.