Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Noun, A Verb, and 9/11

Last week, Senator Joe Biden remarked of fellow Presidential candidate Rudy Giuiliani:

"There's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, a verb and 9/11"

Echoing Biden's sentiments, The Daily Show anchor Jon Stewart suggested that Giuliani has a condition called "9/11 Tourettes." Similarly, Sen. Chris Dodd lambasted Giuliani for accepting donations of $9.11 on his website, a fundraising movement sponsored by one of Giuliani's California supporters. And then there was The Onion contribution, which you can see here.

I assume it goes without saying that the Presidential election next year, like almost every other year, likely will not be about the "real" issues. Chances are it will be about race, gender, and 9/11. Two of those issues are small red herrings, and the other is a big, fat, farm-bred one. As we know, or should know by now, the attacks of 9/11 had little or no connection to any of our current conflicts save the manufactured connection that was initially used to justify the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Few of the Presidential candidates, as far as I can tell, have either clear or practical solutions to our current moral and military quagmire, but the candidates on the Right (especially Giuliani and Thompson) seem more inclined to fall back on the ready-to-hand symbol of "9/11" to escape the messay ambiguities of our current political situation.

It's difficult for me to tell sometimes whether this (apparent) discursive abuse of "9/11" is exploitative or not. (Fellow blogger Chet considered this in an entry he titled "The Uses and Abuses of 9/11 for Literature") Clearly, Biden's remark about Giuliani's limited vocabulary is meant to highlight the absence of substative content in Giuliani's speeches. But Biden's chiding doesn't really address what we unfortunately know to be the case: that many, many Americans still believe that there is a direct line of causation stretching from our current troubles back to the events of that day.

I am curious what it would take to clip that line of erroneous connection.


Steven Thomas said...

Good question... and now 9/11 is somehow being connected to Iran, even though from 2001 to 2003, Iran repeatedly offered to help the United States fight terrorism (real terrorists, not the made-up kind), in part because Iran has always been agaisnt the Taliban because the Taliban persecuited Shiites. The U.S. spurned all these offers of course, probably because having Iran in our "coalition" would confused Americans and make our racism more difficult to spin.

Chet said...

They do "believe" it ... and this is the most troubling thing.