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ISSUE #107
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Features

ArrowGreat Gaffes Through the Ages
A comprehensive list

ArrowWhy ask Why?
Five years after 9/11, the question remains unanswered
Matt Taibbi

ArrowExtreme History Makeover
Lynne Cheney and the rules of history
Christopher Famighetti

ArrowYour Tax Dollars at Work
In Washington, another tale of waste and fraud unpunished
Matt Taibbi

ArrowBaby Suri Hates You, Wants You Dead
Scott Brochert and Josh Righter

Local BEAST
ArrowCON
Tom Reynolds, WNY’s human colostomy bag
Allan Uthman
Departments

ArrowThe Beast Page 3
Obscure Racial Epithet

ArrowKino Korner: Movies
Hollywoodland, The Black Dahlia, The Covenant, The Last Kiss, Gridiron Gang, The Protector

ArrowBEAST-O-Scopes
As divined by your ethereal guide

Arrow[sic] - Letters
Gentleman Be Trippin', Hot Girl on Girl Misogyny, Our Illiterate Correspondent and more

Why ask Why?
Five years after 9/11, the question remains unanswered
Matt Taibbi

So, why did they hate us after all?

We sure blew off that question nicely. As with everything else in this country, our response to 9/11 was a heroic compendium of idiocy, cowardice, callow flag-waving, weepy sentimentality (coupled with an apparently bottomless capacity for self-pity), sloth, laziness and partisan ignorance.

We dealt with 9/11 in many ways. We instantly dubbed everyone who died in the accident a hero and commissioned many millions (billions?) in mawkish elegiac art. We created a whole therapy industry to deal with our 9/11-related grief, made a few claustrophobic two-star Hollywood movies about the bombings, read Lisa Beamer's book and bought that DVD narrated by Rudy, watched Law and Order entertainments about sensational murders committed that morning and left for Jerry Orbach to solve, made bushels of quasi-religious references to "hallowed ground." We made many careers out of assigning blame for the attacks, with the right blaming Bill Clinton, Michael Moore blaming George Bush and the clinically insane blaming those mysterious demolition experts who allegedly wired the bottoms of the towers with the explosives that "really" caused the tragedy. And we talked about 9/11 -- to death. We blathered on so much about the attacks and whined so hard about our "lost innocence" that the rest of the world, initially sympathetic, ended up staring at us in suicidally impatient agony, a can of kerosene overturned above its head, like the old lady sitting next to Robert Hays in Airplane!

We did just about everything except honestly ask ourselves what the hell really happened, and why.

Fareed ZakariaThat process of self-examination was flawed from the start. We were screwed the moment Fareed Zakaria wrote his infamous "The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?" essay for Newsweek a few weeks after the attacks. The question -- why do they hate us? -- was maybe the right question, but that was only if everyone could have agreed on what it meant. For what do we mean by they, and what do we mean by us? I for one am not entirely sure we're clear on these points, even now.

That we couldn't agree on who they were should be obvious by now. To the Bush administration the answers to the they/us questions were, respectively, "foreigners" and "America." From the outset the Bush crew showed that they were both unwilling and unable to budge from the post-WWII political paradigm they'd all grown up under, and viewed the 9/11 events purely as an attack on the American nation-state by a belligerent foreign power. Their solution to the terrorism problem revolved entirely around a strategy for dealing with those foreign nation-states that were the "sponsors" of terrorism -- Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea. It was characteristic of the fourth-rate minds in this White House that they not only immediately got lost in the wrong political paradigm in response to the bombing, but picked the wrong country, Iraq, to punish for the crime. If we give them another ten years at it they'll probably end up introducing market reform to Antarctica as a backup plan.

alfred e neumanBush and his buddies grew up in the Cold War, an era where two countries dominated the world and even the scraggliest warlord in the central African jungle was usually a client of one or the other. It was a fun time for the overgrown Risk-playing nerds inhabiting America's think tanks, who spent half a century describing all human life as an ongoing chess match between life-affirming American capitalism on the one hand and, on the other, the bloodsucking communist religion cruelly foisted upon the world by a conspiratorial bund of grubby German Jews (Hitler was eighty years too late!) and French homosexuals. That was what it came down to: World politics for half a century was a pissing match between two warring factions in the sociology department of the international University of Well-Fed White People. Things were so simple, even George Bush could understand them.

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