False Flags

On August 30, 2006, I received a “don’t break the chain” email from a relative, apparently by mistake. Appropriately it had no subject line because it had no substance. Nevertheless its sentimentalism compelled my response. I offer this as a snapshot in time with which to compare the present discourse.

From My Inbox, August 2006

From: < snip >
To: < snip >
Subject: [sic]
Date: Mon, 28 Aug 2006 17:54:31 -0600d

We have a little less than one week and counting to get the word out all across this great land and into every community in the United States of America.
THE PROGRAM IS THIS:

On Monday, September 11th, 2006, an American flag should be displayed outside every home, apartment, office, and store in the United States. Every individual should make it their duty to display an American flag on this fifth anniversary of our country’s worst tragedy. We do this in honor of those who lost their lives on 9/11, their families, friends and loved ones who continue to endure the pain, and those who today are fighting at home and abroad to preserve our cherished freedoms.

In the days, weeks and months following 9/11, our country was bathed in American flags as citizens mourned the incredible losses and stood shoulder-to-shoulder against terrorism. Sadly, those flags have all but disappeared. Our patriotism pulled us through some tough times and it shouldn’t take another attack to galvanize us in solidarity. Our American flag is the fabric of our country and together we can prevail over terrorism of all kinds.

Action Plan: So, here’s what we need you to do…

(1) Forward this email to everyone you know (at least 11 people). Please don’t be the one to break this chain. Take a moment to think back to how you felt on 9/11 and let those sentiments guide you.

(2) Fly an American flag of any size on 9/11. Honestly, Americans should fly the flag year-round, but if you don’t, then at least make it a priority on this day.

Thank you for your participation. God Bless You and God Bless America

Together We Can Prevail

I replied to the many addressees, but with a subject.

From: David Hughes <david@qualityofmercy.com>
Subject: Re: Why I am not a flag waver
Date: August 30, 2006 at 12:09:43 AM MDT
To: < snip >

On Monday, September 11th, 2006, an American flag should be displayed outside every home, apartment, office, and store in the United States. Every individual should make it their duty to display an American flag on this fifth anniversary of our country’s worst tragedy. We do this in honor of those who lost their lives on 9/11, their families, friends and loved ones who continue to endure the pain, and those who today are fighting at home and abroad to preserve our cherished freedoms.

In the days, weeks and months following 9/11, our country was bathed in American flags as citizens mourned the incredible losses and stood shoulder-to-shoulder against terrorism. Sadly, those flags have all but disappeared. Our patriotism pulled us through some tough times and it shouldn’t take another attack to galvanize us in solidarity. Our American flag is the fabric of our country and together we can prevail over terrorism of all kinds.

I want to say that I apologize for what follows, but I don’t and I won’t. As you will read, this has touched a nerve. Now more than ever we need to think critically in the face of the smarmy, thoughtless sentiment we’ll be deluged with in two weeks, exemplified by the above two paragraphs. First Katrina at one year, which fortunately compels criticism by anyone with half a head. But 9/11 is so sacrosanct and delicate that, like the flag, it’s in need of protection. Five years on let’s remember who fought tooth and nail against even a cursory investigation into what went wrong. And now the DOJ threatens state attorneys general who dare to question suspect measures taken in secret, in its wake.

No apology. This is about resistance!

“This fifth anniversary of our country’s worst tragedy.” Whoever penned this is either too young or too old to remember that September 11, 2001 was not our worst tragedy by any yardstick, although the reaction to 9/11 continues to be tragic—or perhaps comic, with the Taliban on the ascent, heroin flowing freely, and warlords being warlords. At five years, it’s a relatively recent event. But boy what a five years it’s been: the invasion, looting, and occupation of Iraq and its price tag, Gonzales’s dismissal of international law and its trickle-down effect, Katrina and its attendant carpetbagging, Lebanon, little things like that. I can think of a number of other events to vie for the distinction of worst tragedy. Being a child of the Sixties, Vietnam comes to mind easily—at least two million lives lost over 30 years and a self-determination struggle turned into the unspeakable, a horror worthy of Goya or Francis Bacon. But even that pales in comparison to the genocide performed by freedom lovers as they and their 19th century homeland security agents crossed the prairies of the West. No, hardly the worst.

“Our country was bathed in American flags.” I’m not sad to see at least some of the flags go. We found out that those ubiquitous flag-ettes flown from cars after 9/11 actually created a gas-guzzling drag on performance. And their smog-laden tatters on SUVs and elsewhere, left dripping in the rain or dark in the dead of night, might have given even Francis Scott Key pause. A questionable standard of pride even in the best of times (we now know that time will tell all tales), the flag has once again become a shroud for pine boxes, for those lucky enough to have had the foresight to give in to their recruiters’ sexual predations. And those cocktail sized versions left over from last month’s holiday canape trays are just right for a pair of handy blinders—de rigueur attire in this day of touch-screen voting and no paper trail, the better with which to watch CNN’s coverage of another third-world election at which Jimmy Carter observes—never observing, ourselves, the simple genius of the hand-marked ballot.

And what “tough times” has our patriotism pulled us through? Katrina? Whoo! don’t tell the 14,000 refugees who are still here in Colorado, or the N’awlins public housing residents whose buildings, turns out, were never in danger of flooding, nonetheless padlocked tight with metal plates waiting for a Carlyle Group white paper. The Cold War? That’s right, we’d all be speaking Spanish now. (Oh, I guess we are, at least enough to tell Conchita what to fix for dinner.) The Deficit? No comment. Health care crisis? We fixed that early on last administration, but watch out: Hillary’s sneaky. Drug War? Something on hold, something to look forward to; after all, we give more aid to Bogotá than Tel Aviv. Civil Rights? Ask Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell (a true house nigger, to use Harry Belefonte’s unfortunate phrase) how he’s working to turn back that clock.

I do get a little misty eyed when talk turns to “solidarity.” But mention the S-word to Wal-Mart workers who are afraid to discuss with each other the freedom to organize. Talk with Central American workers lured to New Orleans by the reconstruction outfits only to find out that they may not have an affordable place to live. Query the American soldiers in Iraq who are under-prepared, under-protected, and under-relieved (and under-compensated compared with their Halliburton compatriots). Have coffee with those whose names are removed from the voter rolls or who are challenged at the polls because they have a foreign sounding last name or don’t pass the brown bag test or paid their debt to society.

I will not wave my flag. My glass is half full. The two paragraphs above urge us to bring things into perspective, to remember the good old days of 9/12, but of course we can’t really handle the scrutiny.

We all know by now (9/11 at least taught Americans where Afghanistan was on the map, and a beensie bit of its history) that because of the hubris exhibited by US foreign policy, we had it coming. Osama was not hatched on 9/10. And we and the rest of our fellow travelers will continue to endure attack after attack if we persist in treating Islamic et al. terrorism as a military issue. It is not. And all the flag waving and saber rattling in the world will not change the fact that there is a very good reason why the US is a target. We rape and pillage at our whim (Iran, Nicaragua, Cointelpro, Chile, commoditization of air and water, back alley abortions, Haiti, pills for profit, El Salvador, HUAC, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Korea, Grenada, prison industrial complex, Panama, Cuba, my God, the list goes on and on!) and then wonder why we’re a—the—target. Frankly, I’m grateful for their restraint.

I propose that September 11, 2006 be our Yom Kippur. Wearing sackcloth and ashes we will mourn not our dead but the loss of any shred of humility we had, knowing that God has indeed shed His grace on us, which we repay on the end of a bayonet in a back room in Al-Mahmudiyah.

Shakespeare said it best:

The quality of mercy is not strain’d
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes…
In the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy.

And 400 years later, Gary Snyder:

Not all those who pass
In front of the Great Mother’s chair
Get passt with only a stare.
Some she looks at their hands
To see what sort of savages they were.

Complicit in the curious brand of justice that Washington exports and extorts, pray, pray for mercy when you are brought before your God, because none of us wants the sort of justice meted out by our pals in Riyadh and Lagos. If you must fly the flag, I urge you to invert it—the international distress signal—for indeed we are doomed if we continue through our power and influence and lucre to breed a race of fascists—offspring of Abraham every one—both here and abroad. The only honest idea out of two paragraphs, the very last one, we must take to heart: Together we can prevail over terrorism of all kinds.

Shalom,

David

Looking Backward, August 2011 2006

On August 29, 2011, my relative forwarded the same chain email as in 2006, this time using BCCs, and so I replied only to my relative.

From: David Hughes <david@qualityofmercy.com>
Subject: Re: Plan for Sept. 11 Observance
Date: August 29, 2011 at 11:59:06 PM MDT
To: < snip >

As I’m sure you know, my feelings haven’t changed in five years. The call for this sort of display must be resisted. No freedom is preserved by a military that in essence rules us, and quite easily so.

On 9/11/2001, Dick Cheney actually gave a “stand down” order that no jets should be intercepted. This detail, given in testimony by Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, was conveniently omitted from the 9/11 Commission’s Report. (see Wikipedia; Prison Planet, yes, I know that’s Alex Jones; Jones Report, ditto)

Obama revels in his “lite” version of the same abomination. The FBI, under his watch, hatches terrorist plots under the guise of saving us from them. (see Democracy Now!; Mother Jones)

According to Human Rights Watch’s Peter Bouckaert, Libya now is so awash in munitions—from Gadafi’s storehouses—that it has the possibility of making Iraq’s sectarian violence seem like a picnic. Obama and Cheney feed from the same trough. (see Wired)

The U.S. claims to have no “troops on the ground” in Libya, but we know that’s a fib because we’d never let other countries run the show without the sort of secret presence that we have in Pakistan. This is how we began our venture in Vietnam, with “advisors.”

There are 204 countries in the world. According to statistics from the last decade, we had over 1000 instances of military presence in 156 countries. This is insane. (see Global Research)

Some have said we’re addicted to war. I agree. Between the money we humans make from war and its instruments, and the money our financial institutions make from laundering the proceeds from illegal and legal drugs, there’s a big addiction worldwide. (see Havocscope)

  • Counterfeit Drugs: $200 Billion 
  • Marijuana: $141.80 Billion 
  • Cocaine: $100 Billion 
  • Heroin: $68 Billion 
  • Prescription Drugs (Illegal): $64.82 Billion 
  • Amphetamines: $28.25 Billion 
  • Ecstasy: $16.07 Billion

Compare that with the illegal traffic in

  • Alcohol Smuggling: $4.3 Billion 
  • Counterfeit Weapons: $1.8 Billion 
  • Counterfeit Alcohol: $1 Billion 
  • Arms Trafficking: $245 Million 
  • Nuclear Smuggling: $100 Million

Legal weapons worldwide generate only $25 Billion in sales (in 1990 dollars) by comparison. (see SIPRI)

But using those weapons becomes expensive. Waging war, and keeping the American public believing that it’s necessary for us to occupy the world militarily means that nearly one out of every twenty dollars of Gross Domestic Product is spent on perpetuation of an unstable world that is extremely dangerous, making it necessary to continue pumping money into the military and to continue manufacturing 35% of the world’s arms. 

There’s a method behind the madness, if it leads to the abandonment of our socialist programs:

  • Public schools 
  • Public works 
  • Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid 
  • Arts funding 
  • Welfare 
  • Regulators (SEC, EPA, FCC etc.)
  • FEMA

Obama, as we’ve seen during his term in office, is as complicit in this as were Cheney and Bush. His first presidential campaign was funded by Wall Street, which is as bloodthirsty as any insurgent cell. He campaigned on a promise to ramp up in Afghanistan, which he did, sustaining an utter failure. Our military, in an age of no real threat, thrives on keeping a loose lid on problems it can never solve. If it did solve them, it would be out of business. No business wants that kind of solution, least of all one with whom Vice President Cheney was entangled. Best to capitalize on a terrorism that is largely non-existent, or capitalize on it when it visits our shores.

Ten years after 9/11 we’ve learned nothing except the magnitude of our hubris regarding world affairs (via WikiLeaks), the profundity of our ignorance of the people of southwest Asia (just as we misunderstood the people of southeast Asia), the Nazi-like and necrophilic abandon of our troops (via WikiLeaks), our freakish and cavalier regard for the deaths of tens of thousands of Afghans and Iraqis, the genius of our largely private army and infrastructure coupled with a volunteer army neatly avoiding a draft that surely would have put both these conflicts to bed years ago, the immensity of our narcissism that allows the deaths of tens of thousands of Mexicans as we dope ourselves silly. War is a business and it thrives and thrives and thrives, funded by an American public that is terrorized by every manufactured threat on the one hand, and distracted handily by the cocoon of the entertainment center on the other. To glorify military occupations in what [name withheld] forwarded to you is pathological. It betrays a deep misunderstanding of the arrogance held by Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush, Obama, Geitner, Gates et al. These people care nothing for freedom and care less for the troops who as always are fodder for imperial designs. Freedom via invasion after invasion? Freedom for whom? Spending so much money on death sounds like subjugation via indoctrination to me.

– David

10 Replies to “False Flags”

  1. One of your best, David. I wish I could write with such damning precision and such damned eloquence. Thank you.

    1. Wow, Richard. Coming from you that is humbling. I fully expected you to come back at me with laying-low perspective on these vintage rants. I know we’re on the same general wavelength, but still. Thanks!

  2. Razor-sharp and eloquent. A precise and factual “audit” of business hiding behind a well-cultivated herd mentality. There needs to be more of this. You don’t only provide the puzzle pieces, you show the whole picture on the box!

    Thank you!

  3. Thank you for this, David, sharp as a razor’s edge.
    It seems whenever we rehash the history of this wicked empire, it reenforces my hatred for all things patriotic.
    For me, 9/11 is a dual agitation, as my sister was run over and killed by a RTD scab driver a month after 9/11. And the beat goes on…

    1. How awful, Frank. You never mentioned that. On a brighter side, it was you and me chatting that gave me the idea to begin blogging. Thank you.

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