Raising the Blade

Every ten years, every year that the first digit on my age increments, I take an hour or two think of where I might be the next time it’s going to happen — to think of what I will be like, who will be close to me, where I will be living, what I will be doing to earn money, et cetera, in ten years’ time. At some point on the same day, I remember back to what I was doing ten years ago. Thanks to the Internet, this has gotten easier. Google is happy to index and serve my memories to me. It doesn’t lie to me nearly as well as I can lie to myself.

The engineers of the tragedies of September 11, 2001, intended for it to be a catastrophic breakpoint, a brutal crack in the timeline with a distinct “before” and “after”, with the results of “after” being a suitable and significant revenge against the decadent West for … I’m sorry. The message was a little garbled. Disrespect to Islam, maybe. Suppression of Arab culture, or maybe just prideful meddling. Moral and financial support of the dedicated enemies of Islam. One or more of the above. Perhaps it’s all for being perceived as some kind of linchpin or keystone that, once destroyed, would shake the status quo and give those on the bottom a chance to scramble higher.

In any case, let’s pretend the attacks were worthy of being that kind of milestone. Let’s give them their ten-year retrospective and a ten-year projection. For as long as I can stomach it.

I see what I wrote ten years ago on the topic within two hours of the attacks. I see the discussion that triggered that went on for the rest of the day and, unsurprisingly, for days afterward. And I see, with no amount of glee, that I nailed the prediction of what would happen — the directions, certainly, if not the scope. I am obviously smarter than the entirety of those who pretended there would be any kind of winner in this scenario.

Those who wanted war had no trouble whatsoever turning it into an excuse for war — and war with the targets of their choosing, not just the instigators. Criminals and thugs were elevated to The Enemy, and, in their own eyes, into Freedom Fighters. From there, anyone who profits from war on any side — logistical suppliers, manufacturers of munitions and matériel, researchers and scientists who design new methods for killing and containment — proceeded to rake in the dough. Also profiting were those wealthy enough on both sides, all sides, not to be impacted by the market crashes and rampant poverty, who could raise prices on their own countrymen who turned to them for relief, for the scarce essentials, and for protection. As predicted.

When people are afraid for any reason, they reevaluate who they think they can trust. “Us” gets smaller, and “them” expands enormously. And every decision gets made in the light of “us versus them” politics. Those who were smart enough to predict this — and already in secure positions of power — did everything they could to make sure they could take advantage of the impending situation. Western politics has never been more deliberately conservative or more polarized since the horrible times at the height of the Cold War. Whoever has any kind of advantage at all uses it to squeeze their enemies. As predicted.

Ordinary bigotry is tolerated if not encouraged. As long as those who are in charge are the right color, the right race, the right religion, the right orientation, the right gender, what harm could there be? What incentive could there be to interfere with that? Obviously, from the viewpoint of people who could help fix it, it’s not a priority. As predicted.

But all that could have happened from any catastrophe. An earthquake or a hurricane could have destroyed the same buildings, and, in the fear generated by the aftermath, we could have gone to war with those who could be painted as wanting to take advantage of us while we were weak.

Same exact results. Probably even the same people on both sides. Same number of innocents slaughtered, in the same way, for the same reasons or lack thereof. Same economic chaos. Same degradation of ethics on all sides. Same exact results.

This is what I have to say to al-Qaeda: It surely would have happened without you. Who are you again? An earthquake. A tsunami. A hurricane. A lucky one. An eventuality.

Same exact results. Same dearth of heroes. Same revelation of who the villains really are: anyone who would take a dollar from the victim of a tragedy — and perpetuate more tragedy to prepare more victims for wallet-harvesting. You know. While everyone is willing to accept it as the natural order.

Will that continue for another ten years? On one hand I’d say yes, because why screw with a strategy that seems to be working for those who have the power and immunity and remarkable lack of conscience to keep it going? But on the other hand, I’m a student of history. I remember what I’ve read of when and why the French invented the guillotine. When things get to be too far out of balance, at some point there is always the guillotine, and what comes after.

Will the criminals who destroyed a few key buildings try to take credit for the upcoming time of guillotines? To that I say: Whatever. We name our hurricanes too, and we also know that’s a joke.

So that’s ten years. Raise a glass to the fallen — or raise the blade. You decide which.



— appearing in Russian in the Sep 11 edition of The Printed Blog, Russian Edition

September 11, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  


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