It’s such a played-out cliché that it’s downright corny, but if you were born sometime before the mid-Nineties, you really do remember exactly where you were on 9/11. It was an event too cataclysmic to not happen on a normal day because everything before that surreal shit-show seemed almost Norman Rockwell normal by comparison. I was a 13-year-old 7th grader at Saint John’s the Evangelist Catholic School. Hardly a simple time for a painfully closeted obsessive-compulsive misfit, but a time before the heavy issues war, liberty and empire ran my life. I was too busy writing down Korn lyrics, washing my hands fifty times a day, and struggling to ignore the nagging suspicion that my feelings for Caitlyn Feelow were anything but heterosexual.
I was already a frightened little nervous wreck before some faceless administrator interrupted Mrs. Teeple’s English class to inform us that somebody had just blown up America, as the late Amiri Baraka once put it. Both Twin Towers, which I mostly knew from the second Home Alone movie, had been struck by commercial airliners. By the time I got home they were both gone, vanished into a volcanic cloud of dust. I remember my mother looking up at the sky and wondering aloud when the planes would stop dropping from the heavens like a Ballardian rain of ballistic machinery. I remember the near-pornographic replays of the tragedy, the money shot of sinking skyscrapers, being played on Fox News over and over and over again. The news never stopped blaring. Twenty years later and it’s still on. The memory itself makes me want to wash my hands.
In hindsight, we should have seen it coming, especially our government, and shit, maybe they did. We spent decades repeatedly backing up over the Middle East with our colossal pick-up truck of a country, only stopping to syphon more gas from the desert to keep the party going. We had overthrown democracies and replaced them with dictators, armed those dictators to the fucking teeth, then declared war on them when they used our toys on the wrong neighbors. But on 9/11, none of this seemed to matter. Even the adults were too busy being traumatized by the evening news to think straight. Everyone was scared out of their minds and we were quite willing to vote for pretty much anything, pay any price, to anyone who appeared to be in charge, just to feel Norman Rockwell normal again.
So America wandered blindly into the on coming traffic of uncut tyranny. My parents and my teachers accepted the Patriot Act and it’s many shadowy tentacles like a booster shot, as they did the increasingly unhinged forever wars that followed. But somewhere along this line, something broke deep inside me. I couldn’t help but notice that the same people who spent their illustrious careers provoking this attack all seemed to suddenly have their shit together when it came time to react to it. None of their excuses added up and all of their solutions seemed to fulfill their long expressed desires to take an empire and turn it into an Orwellian global police state. I began listening to Rage Against the Machine a lot more than Korn and started reading books by Noam Chomsky. Soon I was getting into angry shouting matches with the various adults in my life on a near daily basis. But they were all just too damn scared to listen to a genderqueer brat with a head full of inconvenient contradictions.
Twenty years later and the adults are more scared than ever. The Patriot Act and the forever wars continue to grow into terrifyingly grotesque new shapes. It was all supposed to be temporary. It was all for our own good. Now the War on Terror has lead us to run to the aid Al-Qaeda themselves in order to prevent another secular dictator from harboring another 9/11. The Patriot Act led to FISA courts, warrantless wiretapping, and a gargantuan apparatus that keeps us all safe by collecting our emails in a giant hole in the Utah desert. And now the Coronavirus has hit us like a thousand commercial airliners and every single day is like 9/11. The bodies never stop pilling up on cable news, being hauled away in refrigerated army trucks and buried in mass graves not far from where the shadows of those towers once loomed, and once again, all the wrong people have all the right answers. All we have to do is hand over the keys to the pick-up truck and let them run over the Constitution a few more times and everything will go back to normal and we can all make believe that we’re the good guys again. As the plague plateaus, the police state just keeps rising.
As our governors do their damnedest out-fash Trump, the gestapo state is running roughshod across this diseased nation like a Mongol horde on holiday. In Kentucky, cops are writing down the license plates of yokals committing the high crime of practicing the First Amendment on Easter Sunday. Social distancing has officially brought stop-and-frisk to the Bible Belt. Meanwhile, in the quarantined Gaza Strip once known as New York, our pigs in blue are taking it a step further, macing black couples and dragging them out of their parked cars to lock them up in concrete boxes with a dozen other unwashed denizens. In my own state of Pennsylvania, small business’ are being forcibly shuttered and people are getting fined up the ass just for taking a short drive in the country to clear their heads of this crap.
This is just the beginning. They want more, way more. They want so much more and they promise that they just want it for a minute, just like before. As Trump continues to scapegoat China for his derelict lack of preparedness, creeps like his son in law are in talks with big tech on how we can adopt the Great Red Dragon’s successful model of medical apartheid, tracking the sick like cattle with everything from cell phone apps to certificates of immunity, and the left’s response to this unquestioned tyranny is to hand these same motherfuckers total control of our morally bankrupt healthcare system. It’s little wonder that suddenly Tea Party Republicans are talking up Sandernista welfare programs. Panic really does bring people together.
This has always been my issue with national single-payer healthcare. While I have always believed that healthcare is a fundamental human right, it is just not a right I trust the federal government to uphold. And that’s really what it all comes down to; Do you really trust the same people who gave us the Patriot Act with running your healthcare? Do you really honestly believe that they wont abuse that access to intimate information? You might as well just let Joseph Goebbels rifle through your underwear drawer. Across the globe, from Israel to Taiwan, we are seeing centralized government healthcare systems being turned into maximum security prisons. Everything from drones to facial recognition software and tracking bracelets are being utilized, all in the name of public safety and national security, and it is these governments unfettered access to their citizens healthcare that makes this dystopia possible. Our healthcare system is shit but this is not the answer.
The biggest difference, really the only difference, between 2020 and 2001, is that in 2001 the far-left in this country was unified by its opposition to the tyranny of globalism. It was Noam Chomsky and Ralph Nader who showed me the way to rage against my parent’s gullible faith in this countries political institutions. Today, the far-left is united only by it’s support for free shit from these institutions, even if that means handing Donald Trump himself a full-metal-speculum. Bernie Sanders could give two fucks and a shit about the global military-economic system that made Covid-19 as inevitable as 9/11. His solution is to hand our guns and our papers over to the same fascist fucks he half-heartedly rages against before he sheepishly endorses them. What the fuck happened here? And why do I still feel like the only kid who realizes that the adults are all fucking crazy?
You figure that out, dearest motherfuckers. I gotta go wash my hands again.