Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fear And Loathing In September

Very rarely does something in the Observer work me up to the point of writing a response. I just sent this in to the Observer. We'll see if the editor has the cojones to print it in full. If not, here's my full response. To make sense of it, read our dear friend Christie Pesavento's viewpoint in today's Observer (beware, it might make you physically ill):


As a staunch liberal (and thus a minority on this campus), I often find the Observer’s viewpoint section highly amusing. But in Tuesday’s Viewpoint Ms. Pesavento crossed the line from amusing to downright vile and disturbing. How dare the right accuse President Obama of politicizing September 11? The entirety of the Bush administration was defined by the politicizing of one of the most tragic events in American history. Our military is currently bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq because former President Bush and his cronies were able to capitalize on the fear and confusion of the aftermath of the attacks on New York and Washington D.C. You demand we remain in mourning, Ms. Pesavento? No, you and the other neo-conservatives care little for mourning. You demand we stay in fear. Fear of the outside world is what allowed President Bush to convince the American public that war in Iraq was a necessary course. Fear is what allowed the Bush administration to violate Constitutional and international law by spying on American citizens, profiling Arabs, and torturing prisoners. Fear is the reason Bush, despite being incompetent and corrupt (which is now apparent to anybody with hindsight and a brain), was able to grab himself a second term in the White House.

Now President Obama has forsaken the politics of fear for the politics of hope and service, and the right wing comes up swinging. The Republicans stance against community service is one I’ll never comprehend. During the campaign, Republicans made a mockery of Mr. Obama’s service as a community organizer, and now that Mr. Obama has the presidency and is attempting to use it to make us all community organizers in our own way, the hypocritical right accuses him of political motives. I will never forget the 9/11 attacks. Nobody will. But when it comes to politicizing the tragedy, nobody could beat the Republicans, no matter how hard they might try.

6 comments:

Andrea Watts said...

I love the title of this entry

LeftCoastLefty said...

Great post!

Christie Pesavento consistently turns out illogical drivel. She doesn't even pretend to be honest... It's best to only read her on low-blood pressure days.

Tim Ryan said...

Good news, the Observer called a few minutes ago and it appears my righteous indignation will be printed in tomorrow's Viewpoint. Keep an eye out!

Anonymous said...

You managed to convey that there is a way in which the Bush administration politicized 9/11, though you didn’t persuasively support your qualitiative assessment of it. But Pesavento homed in on the substantive distinction between two different cases or types of politicization, and you didn’t address it.

Bush’s politicization of 9/11 consisted primarily in parlaying it into policies that were, by and large, at least plausibly germane to national security. That’s true regardless of whether those politicies effectively advanced that cause, which I am convinced they often did not (although I do not doubt that their authors intended them to).

The politicizing to which Pesavento was objecting involves co-opting 9/11 to promote policies whose relevance to national security is extremely attenuated by comparison. Of course, the Republican policies may be benighted and the Democratic ones enlightened. However, there is an intuitively obvious (to anyone without a vested interest in denying it) sense in which the second kind of politicization is more artificial and, I think, grosser. The link between the issues surrounding 9/11 and Bush’s subsequent national security agenda, and thus the momentum from one to the other, was at least partly organic and intrinsic. Channeling the losses and sentiments of 9/11 into certain unrelated exploits of the Democratic Party’s domestic agenda does not come naturally. It must rely almost entirely on politics to link them and supply the momentum from one to the other. I think one may defensibly characterize it as the greater politicization of 9/11.

Chris Rhodenbaugh said...

GREAT to see your post in the Observer :). We need to have a consistent response to "Right Wingin It" The 9/11 column included some of her most preposterous claims to date.

LeftCoastLefty said...

Anon has gone 'round the bend if he/she is really buying Pesavento's garbage. The right politicized 9/11 in every way imaginable, from using DHS terror alerts for political gain, to mentioning 9/11 in every single speech they could... They also flooded their 2004 convention with images of 9/11. And don't even get me started on the Rudy Guilianni campaign...

What has the Obama done to politicize 9/11? Seriously... promoting community service is just that and nothing more. Tim Ryan mentions in his post how the Republicans have made it a partisan issues of theirs that this kind of service is for some reason not worthy of their side's participation or honor...I guess doing something for your neighbors isn't "individual" enough for them... whatever it is, it's their problem which they need to come to terms with.

Every president, Republican or Democrat should encouraged community/national service. And I don't see how doing so, even on 9/11 (a day when thousands of Americans served their community to come to the aid of their fellow citizens) can be construed as an intentional attempt to politicize 9/11.