Sunday, August 01, 2004

Finally Saw Fahrenheit 9/11

Last night I saw Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 and was appropriately shaken up by it. As soon as the screen went black, about ten minutes into the film, and the theater was filled with the sounds of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center, and the screams of horror and confusion that followed, the woman sitting behind me started bawling. I wondered if she had lost someone in the 9/11 attacks. Or perhaps it was just that she, like everyone in New York City, had a more vivid memory of that day than most people in the rest of the country. Perhaps she was one of the millions of New Yorkers wandering around through the eerily quiet steets that day like a zombie, who was not only grappling with the more academic concept that America had been attacked by a foreign enemy, wondering what this would mean to our future, and how we might respond against whom, but was trying to figure out how the hell she was going to get home, gazing up at skyscrapers all around her, wondering if at any moment they would be crashing down upon her.

She cried a lot during the movie. So did a lot of other people. So did I. Like all the accounts I've read about, the audience's reaction to the film was the most dramatic I've ever witnessed. Crying. Hissing. Shouting angrily at the screen. Applauding. And this was not an audience of politically idealisitic NYU students. This was an audience in Astoria, Queens, and was as diverse as one could imagine: old people, young people, families of every ethnic background...

This just in.

Interesting. As I was writing this , I glanced back at the muted TV behind me to see soon-to-bail Homeland Security Secrtary Tom Ridge standing behind a podium. A live broadcast. Uh-oh. I un-muted the TV. He announced a specific, credible terrorist threat against targets in New York City, Washington, D.C. and northern New Jersey. In NYC, the specific target is the New York Stock Exchange. Hence, the much maligned Terror Alert Level has been raised to Orange.

Um, excuse me?

It is my understanding, according to every report of the terror alert level being raised or lowered, that the terror alert level in NYC has always been Orange ever since the system was enacted. So now it has been raised in New York from Orange to Orange? This just underscores how useless and meaningless the whole color coded alert system is. It's a cheap facade, and everyone knows it. It indicates how half-hearted and cynical the Bush administration's response has been to protecting homeland security. After all, doesn't it seem just a wee bit convenient that this announcement comes on the Sunday following the week in which the White House has made much ado that it will quickly be following the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission report? Well, gee, I guess they must be! Look at this, right away they're cracking terrorist plots. I'll sure sleep easy tonight.

There was a time, not very long ago I'm ebarrassed to admit, that I was still listening to the government's announcements of terrorist threats with some small shred confidence that they were actually based on a genuine, heartfelt effort to protect the American people. This was blind, self-delusional confidence, and in the back of my mind, I knew it. The war in Iraq was utterly immoral and wrong, and I knew that before it started. The color-coded alert system was a silly PR stunt, and I knew that too. But the idea that our leaders only saw the so-called war on terror only as a convenient political tool for the administration to advance its own agenda, at the expense of national security, was just too terrifying and depressing to fully accept. Then, a few months ago, John Ashcroft made the startling announcement that, according to multiple sources, Al Qaeda's plans to attack the U.S. this summer were 90% complete. By the next day, government terrorism experts were saying that Ashcroft's one source had also claimed credit for the massive blackout in North America last summer, and had zero credibility in the intelligence community. They thought this source could be nothing more that a guy in the Middle East with a fax machine.

That pretty much sealed it for me. This administartion is useless in stopping the threat of terrorism and only cares about protecting America insofar as it will ensure that Bush is re-elected.

This was supposed to be about Fahrenheit. Great film, but who needs it when Bush does such an excellent job of showing how completely corrupt he is on his own?


Blogger Dave said...

I share your cynicism. One day we're told that America has gone great lengths to protect us from terrorism...due of course to George WWIII Bush's response to the 9/11 attacks, and on the other hand we're told that Al Qeida is coordinated and planning deadly attacks here. It seems to me that AlQeida poses a real threat, and hates us, and that we have no clue what to do about it. I think Bush has made them hate us more, and actually empowered them...the Iraq war was the big screw up. Today (along with the Orange alert) were attacks in Iraq against Christian churches. We're gonna hear the right wing pundits saying "terrorists are evil and hate christians...see, they bombed those churches in Baghdad" What you won't hear (because democrats are a bunch of pussies these days) is that those churches wouldn't have been bombed if we hadn't meddled with Iraq, those churches wouldn't have been bombed. I don't sympathize with Al Qeida, I just feel the need to point out that we've done nothing to stop them. You can call no attacks on US soil since 9/11/01 a success, but moving the battleground to Iraq and having their innocent citizens become victims of this war is hardly successful.

12:45 PM  

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