It’s hard to believe Osama bin Laden will go down in history as the architect of our democratic society’s downfall, but this painful truth is becoming clearer with each passing day as fearful Americans continue to abandon the moral compass and civil liberties that made us great.
What Bin Laden (shown with National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski in 1979, in pic at left) lost on the battlefield after 9/11 he won on U.S. streets and in our living-rooms as we traded in our precious civil liberties for the false security of a venal police state devoted to savage capitalism. Tyranny and corporate greed won the day as institutions as disparate as the Republican and Democratic parties, the American Medical Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce took advantage of that climate of fear to advance Wall Street’s message of “unrestricted profit growth by any and all means.”
Why did this happen? When did this happen?
To quote U2: “You plant a demon seed, you raise a flower of fire.”
Nothing illustrates these painful truths more clearly than the entitled, hateful trash now seeking the presidency in the sordid Reality TV Show our electoral process has become since Citizens United. To look at hate-mongers like Trump and Cruz and Wall Street sellouts like Clinton is to know, without question, that Osama won his showdown with America and the average American lost. Big-time.
That’s why most of the people reading these controversial words are wondering at some level whether they could be fired for sharing this article via social media. And whether we here at Cynical will be punished for writing it, or should be.
The painful truth is that Americans now reflexively pose such questions to ourselves because we live in a climate of pervasive fear. Such is life in the post-9/11 American police state.
Freedom-loving it ain’t.
We are safer and freer than we’ve ever been on paper, but in practice we’re too fearful to demand our totalitraian leaders on Wall Street embrace the sweeping birthrights the Framers of the Constitution and the Greatest Generation bequeathed to us.
In short, we are now a rudderless society completely bereft of ethics or logic. A nation in which every guiding principle now seems to be subject to filtering by an indefinable calculus of race, wealth, gender, religion, and social standing.
This is the price for our embrace of group-based hatred, tyranny, and self-serving lies after 9/11 in lieu of the painful truths, individual sacrifice and personal accountability which previously defined us as a nation.
A United States which once championed representative democracy now has a Congress comprised of millionaires and a presidential clown car stuffed with ruthless, ambitious sellouts. Most neither attended public school nor served in the military.
Almost without exception, they seek personal power, glory, wealth and fame, rather than personal sacrifice and a life of service to the greater good.
They embody the totalitarian layer cake our society has become since Wall Street investors took over the Democratic and Republican parties in the 1990s to free themselves of the restrictions imposed by the Glass Steagal banking act. One covered in a tasty frosting of confusing rhetoric spackled on by the professional liars of K-Street.
We are a nation that has anti-bribery laws, which don’t apply to the payoffs regularly pocketed by our elected officials. Whether they be big jobs for the kids – like the national correspondent positions MSNBC handed out to Chelsea Clinton, Meghan McCain and Jenna Hager Bush; free flooring for Marco Rubio’s Miami home, or Hillary Clinton’s $200,000 speaking fees.
We are a nation in which palatial sports stadiums are built for affluent team “owners” with the help of tax dollars and government financing. But in which most working class taxpayers can no longer afford to take their children to a game.
We are a nation that claims to boast the best medical system on earth, but in which medical bills are now the leading cause of personal bankruptcy filings for working Americans.
We are a nation with a constitutional right to freedom of assembly, which was conveniently forgotten when the pro-democracy activists of Occupy Wall Street questioned the Wall Street profit machine that’s concentrated U.S. wealth in the hands of a smaller number of citizens than any other developed country since 9/11.
We have term limits, but they don’t apply to members of our own Congress. Same goes for our restrictions on insider trading.
We have so many loopholes in our tax code that big corporations and the 1 Percenters who run them now pay less taxes than their secretaries, bodyguards and drivers.
We have public schools, but the vast majority of the 1 Percenters entrusted with running them won’t permit their children to attend them beside those of American wage-earners.
We have a right to freedom of speech, but no tolerance for free speech by working Americans. Those who attempt it must be willing to be fired for saying something their employer doesn’t agree with. Even if the topic has nothing to do with either the business or their employment.
We have bankruptcy laws which protect the scoundrels behind the for-profit college industry, but not the financially illiterate students they exploit to grow their profits. Because student loan debts are not eligible for bankruptcy protection. They’re for life.
How did this happen?
It happened because Bin Laden triggered a society-wide overreaction to fear which succeeded in transforming our courageous military and intelligence communities into torturers and occupiers, our democracy into a corporate police state, our police into storm-troopers, our president into a war criminal and election thief, our nation of opportunity into a caste-based oligarchy, our elected leaders into lackeys for hire, our independent news media into propagandists, our bankers into parasites, our highest court into apologists and enablers for the corporate oligarchy, and our citizens into subjects.
It happened because we traded our principles in for the security and chauvinism of a global empire.
Now, we’re running scared in our homes, terrified by the painful truth that the enemies of our pet tyrants overseas may one day find a way to strike back at us within our own borders again. This is a very real fear in the world of suitcase bombs and aspiring suicide bombers the financial beneficiaries of forever war have helped create.
The religious warriors we trained and cultivated with the House of Saud, and turned loose on Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s, are now eyeing us much as the Vandals and Goths began sizing up their employers in the Roman Empire in 300 AD.
The painful truth is America is a shadow of the free society it was before 9/11. Before our news industry, politicians, and military industrial complex discovered the powerful revenue growth that could be triggered by selling us fear.
Today, we live and breathe that fear like heroin addicts who have become both physically and emotionally dependent on their next dose. It’s killing what was once the world’s foremost democracy and fostering a bubble of privilege in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City for the 1 Percent, which obscures their understanding of the rest of the nation they now derisively refer to as “flyover country.”
We are now the only modern industrialized nation on earth which allows its own elites to use education and medicine as profit machines, while codifying the corporations behind those machines as human beings.
The result is a climate of tyranny in which the nonviolent protesters of Occupy were savagely beaten for peacefully protesting Wall Street’s indefensible greed even as savage capitalists like hedge-fund executive Martin Shkreli were celebrated for gouging their fellow Americans with impunity. Shkreli gained notoriety when he bought a 62-year-old drug used to fight AIDs and jacked the price to $750 per tablet from $12.50.
All the $260 million apiece fighter planes, $200,000 Wall Street speech fees, and $10 billion presidential elections in the world won’t change those painful truths.
We don’t like them anymore at Cynical than you do. However, we recognize the self-inflicted defeat our society’s carefully chershed fears have dealt to a once free society. Just as we recognize the painful truth which underpins the Confucian saying that “the first step toward wisdom is to call things by their right name.”
To accomplish that with Bin Laden we have to face the sweeping nature of our defeat at his hands off the battlefield, which has claimed our soul as a nation. No more. No less.
That is the “real-real” Americans cannot bear to see in the mirror, and which the fat and happy 1 Percent is desperate to suppress. It’s the reason we now have sheltered silver spoons running for president like Donald Trump who never served in the military or participated in a water boarding operation, but think nothing of publicly calling an opponent a “pussy” for not endorsing such heinous behavior.
Torture was once so far beneath us that it was only discussed in private. Today, it’s celebrated and justified by 1 Percenters in propaganda films like Zero Dark Thirty and on the campaign trail.
It’s the reason our Congress is now overflowing with the narcissistic, insipid, privileged, sheltered garbage once confined strictly to the bottom of the Country Club barrel.
It’s the reason we publicly thank the members of our military for their service, without regard to whether they stacked warehouse shelves in Kileen, Texas, or served at the tip of the spear in Afghanistan. While turning a blind eye to tens of thousands of homeless veterans now shivering in the woods all around us and taking their own lives in record numbers.
We think not.
The first step to arresting this decline, is admitting that it’s underway.
It is what it is.
Calling it a victory is a knowing lie.
Our men and women in uniform won the battle with Al Quaeda on the two-way shooting range, but the rest of us were so dominated by our fears back home that we lost the soul of America along the way.
We lost big-time.
We’ve got no one to blame for that but ourselves, and our increasingly totalitarian society’s unwillingness to explore one simple question: “How much is too much?”