FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Send in the Cons

Someone writes to me in favor of arming the populace for national defense, on the ground that terrorists would be reluctant to board any airplane knowing that the entire complement of passengers was armed.

So, of course, would anyone else in his right mind.

Another correspondent offers the old myth that Japan choose to bomb Pearl Harbor rather than to invade our mainland because their leaders knew our people had guns.

Perhaps this same argument will keep the United States out of Afghanistan, though I doubt it.

I bring this up not to launch a new argument with gun advocates. It is understandable that a true believer in any cause will see a national emergency as reason to argue that cause with greater urgency. In the public arena, this can be useful. It can, for example, allow hateful charlatans like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson the opportunity to expose their true feelings for all to behold.

For the most part, there has been a commendable absence of authentic nuttiness on the national airwaves since Sept. 11, although Fox did resort to hauling Jeanne Kirkpatrick in for an interview. (Who knew she was still alive? You decide.)

Then there was Billy Graham’s poor daughter, who really should get out more. She told Brian Gumble the other day that “God was being a perfect gentleman in doing just what we asked Him to do” when He stayed out of our lives and allowed people to attack us on Sept. 11. The heartlessness of it was stunning.

There is probably something to be said for airing all this vacuous puerility, for lancing these boils of unfeeling stupidity and getting the viciousness out of our national system.

Air time is there to be filled, and why not interview people who think like Mariah Carey sings? What’s the alternative? Talking to Edward Said or Noam Chomsky? Finding out what Ralph Nader thinks?

“Intellectual disgrace/Stares from every human face,” said Auden. Still, most people seem to know that now is not the right time to destroy themselves on TV.

However, it’s not what’s being said and done in front of cameras and microphones that troubles me. I don’t have much of a problem with anchor people waving little flags and sobbing. What else can they do? They’ve long forgotten how to report news, ask hard questions or investigate anything of substance. (Can you say “Carlyle Group,” dear anchor?)

What concerns me more is what else might not be getting shown on TV while we watch the twin towers collapse again and yet again.

For example, no one has shown me the truth about what’s going on with Cheney and his health. Are they telling themselves it’s in the interests of national security to keep quiet? Telling themselves that is easy. They do it all the time.

They still haven’t told us the names of the industry insiders who helped Cheney write energy policy, either. (Here, look at this picture of the towers collapsing again. Pay no attention to the man behind that curtain.)

At the old ball park, the singing of the National Anthem and the Seventh Inning Stretch are the two most productive times for pickpockets, who flourish in those moments when the public’s lump-in-the-throat attention is directed elsewhere.

If patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, times of national catastrophe are the first choice of the con artist and huckster.

There are people who jack up the price of flags and gasoline. People who show up at the widow’s door with a box of dust and ashes, claiming to have retreived the remains of the lost beloved. Artists who haven’t had a hit in eons competing for the chance to bellow “I’m proud to be an American” at any public event (but not “This Land is Your Land”). There are evangelists who know a golden opportunity for gay-bashing when they see one. Oil companies who would like to seize the moment and drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge while other matters weigh on the public mind. You get the feeling they would drill in Arlington National Cemetary if allowed.

Who do petrochemical plants along the Gulf Coast take advantage of hurricanes and tropical storms to emit their most noxious clouds of poison? People hiding in the cellar or joining evacuation routes are somehow less observant than on, say, a sunny Sunday afternoon.

The environment is never in greater peril than when no one is watching. The same can be said for our civil rights. In “a war unlike any other,” says the president, “sometimes we’ll see the fruits of our labors, and sometimes we won’t.”

The president was referring to efforts to track down those who planned and financed the Sept. 11 attacks. “There is no doubt in my mind, no doubt at all, that we will fail,” he told the Labor Department, and the nation, only this morning. Sometimes he (and we) will hear what he says, and sometimes he (and we) won’t. CP

David Vest is a writer, poet and piano player for the Cannonballs. A native of Alabama, he now lives in Portland, Oregon. Visit his webpage for samples of the Cannonballs’ brand of take no prisoners rock & roll and other Vest columns: http://www.mindspring.com/~dcqv

More articles by:

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, have just released a scorching new CD, Serve Me Right to Shuffle. His essay on Tammy Wynette is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on art, music and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
December 06, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Eat an Impeachment
Matthew Hoh
Authorizations for Madness; The Effects and Consequences of Congress’ Endless Permissions for War
Jefferson Morley
Why the Douma Chemical Attack Wasn’t a ‘Managed Massacre’
Andrew Levine
Whatever Happened to the Obama Coalition?
Paul Street
The Dismal Dollar Dems and the Subversion of Democracy
Dave Lindorff
Conviction and Removal Aren’t the Issue; It’s Impeachment of Trump That is Essential
Ron Jacobs
Law Seminar in the Hearing Room: Impeachment Day Six
Linda Pentz Gunter
Why Do We Punish the Peacemakers?
Louis Proyect
Michael Bloomberg and Me
Robert Hunziker
Permafrost Hits a Grim Threshold
Joseph Natoli
What We Must Do
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Global Poison Spring
Robert Fantina
Is Kashmir India’s Palestine?
Charles McKelvey
A Theory of Truth From the South
Walden Bello
How the Battle of Seattle Made the Truth About Globalization True
Evan Jones
BNP Before a French Court
Torsten Bewernitz – Gabriel Kuhn
Syndicalism for the Twenty-First Century: From Unionism to Class-Struggle Militancy
Matthew Stevenson
Across the Balkans: From Banja Luka to Sarajevo
Thomas Knapp
NATO is a Brain Dead, Obsolete, Rabid Dog. Euthanize It.
Forrest Hylton
Bolivia’s Coup Government: a Far-Right Horror Show
M. G. Piety
A Lesson From the Danes on Immigration
Ellen Isaacs
The Audacity of Hypocrisy
Manuel García, Jr.
From Caesar’s Last Breath to Ours
Binoy Kampmark
Going to the ICJ: Myanmar, Genocide and Aung San Suu Kyi’s Gamble
Jill Richardson
Marijuana and the Myth of the “Gateway Drug”
Muzamil Bhat
Srinagar’s Shikaras: Still Waters Run Deep Losses
Gaither Stewart
War and Betrayal: Change and Transformation
Farzana Versey
What Religion is Your Nationalism?
Clark T. Scott
The Focus on Trump Reveals the Democrat Model
Monika Zgustova
Chernobyl, Lies and Messianism in Russia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Do Bernie’s Supporters Know What “Not Me, Us” Means? Does Bernie?
Peter Harley
Aldo Leopold, Revisited
Winslow Myers
A Presidential Speech the World Needs to Hear
Christopher Brauchli
The Chosen One
Jim Britell
Misconceptions About Lobbying Representatives and Agencies
Ted Rall
Trump Gets Away with Stuff Because He Does
Mel Gurtov
Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and the Insecurity of China’s Leadership
Nicky Reid
Dennis Kucinich, Tulsi Gabbard and the Slow Death of the Democratic Delusion
Tom H. Hastings
Cross-Generational Power to Change
John Kendall Hawkins
1619: The Mighty Whitey Arrives
Julian Rose
Why I Don’t Have a Mobile Phone
Elliot Sperber
Class War is Chemical War
December 05, 2019
Colin Todhunter
Don’t Look, Don’t See: Time for Honest Media Reporting on Impacts of Pesticides
Nick Pemberton
Gen Z and Free Speech
Bob Lord
The U-Turn That Made America Staggeringly Unequal
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail