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Thursday, September 12, 2002

Engulfed by Tragedy

by Clinton Fein

President Bush's Address to the Nation on Sept. 11 Anniversary. Following is a translation of President Bush's words to the nation from Ellis Island, as interpreted by Annoy.com's Clinton Fein:

Good evening. A long year has passed since my administration used the terrorist attacks to attack our constitution. We've regurgitated the images so many times they are almost devoid of shock value, and only generate $150 per fundraising photo, perpetuating the anguish, rewarding the terrorism, this is crass — but typical.

For some who lost loved ones, it's been a year of self promotion, of book deals, of trademark registration of goodwill phrases long in use. For members of our military, it's been a year of fruitless searches, of cluster bombing of rubble and daisy cutting of civilians. For many Americans, it has been a year of denial — of ignoring the blatant reality that our nation’s policies of arrogance and interference yield determined enemies, and that we are not invulnerable to their attacks.

Yet in the events that have flustered us, we've also seen the character that could destroy us. We've seen the gullibility of America in the acceptance of cheap airline security attempts to defy hijackers by confiscating toenail clippers from old ladies to evoke a false sense of security. We've seen the shallowness of America in dimwits who rushed out to Walmart to buy flags to put on the antennae of their gas guzzling SUVs (and terrified foreigners for whom plastering their vehicles with the flag is all that stands between the freedom it’s supposed to represent and having the shit beat out of them). And we continue to see the slow degradation of America in the fear and suspicion our citizens arouse in each other.

September the 11th, 2001, will always be a turning point in the desecration of America’s constitution. The rapid loss of so many constitutional protections left us to examine what freedom would remain to attack the next time -- and there will be a next time, as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld keep reminding us. Each of us was reminded that we are here only for a time, and these counted days should be filled with instant gratification and a blatant disregard for protecting things that won’t last and don’t matter: dense rainforests, world peace, and for our country; gratitude for death penalties and to the right to execute. We resolved a year ago to honor every last person lost. We already own their remembrance, and we’ll exploit more. We show them, and their children, and our own, the most deceptive monument we can build: against a backdrop of a statue that bears in her hand a torch that profiles immigrants on the basis of race and nationality using biometric surveillance technology replete with an Enya soundtrack, a pretense of liberty and security made possible by the hypocritical way America leads, and by the uncritical way Americans follow.

The attack on our nation was also an attack on the ideals that make us a nation.

Our deepest national contradiction is the notion that every life is precious, because every life is the gift of a creator who intended us to live in liberty and equality.

More than anything else, this likens us to the enemy we fight. We supposedly value every life; our enemies value none — not even the innocent; not even their own. In Nigeria, the barbaric exercise of Shariah, the Islamic legal code, will soon result in the stoning to death of Amina Lawal for bearing a child out of wedlock. Yes, by stoning, after she’s weaned it! In Texas we electrocuted Karla Faye Tucker. Or did we use a lethal injection? And we seek the freedom and opportunity that give meaning and value to life – when, of course, we feel like it.

There is a line in our time, and in every time, between those who believe that all men are created equal, and those who believe that some men, and women, and children, are expendable in the pursuit of power. Our military’s Stop Loss policy, which suspends the discharge of gay servicemembers until a war is over because, oddly enough, they represent a threat to unit cohesion and morale during peacetime when it’s less critical, is a perfect example. There is a line in our time, and in every time, between the defenders of “human liberty” defined by detention without trial, a perversion of justice and ex parte motions, of surveillance of citizens by governments and those who seek to master the minds and souls of others. Our generation will foolishly ignore history's lessons, and we will do it Karl Rove and Donald Rumsfeld’s and my way.

America has engineered a great struggle that reveals our weakness, and fatigues our resolve. Our nation is deluded and distracted. We barely pursue the terrorists in cities, and camps, and caves across the earth anymore, as all roads seem to lead to Baghdad. We are joined by a great coalition of nations to rid the world of terror. Well, Britain is a great coalition. Great Britain. (Portugal and Bulgaria are also great, and surprise, surprise, Israel if we continue to support them.) And we will not allow any terrorist or tyrant to threaten civilization with weapons of mass murder. We will be eliminating anthrax and other chemical and biological agents from our laboratories and we’ll destroy all our nuclear bombs. Had you fooled for a minute! Now and in the future, Americans will live as obedient people, in fear, and at the mercy of Attorney Generals and Defense Secretaries, not any foreign plot or power.

This nation has propped up tyrants and constructed detention camps, shone this lamp of interference to every land that impacts our national interests or threatens my family’s strategic oil interests. We have every intention of ignoring or appeasing history's latest gang of religious and warfare fanatics lying, cheating and murdering their way to power through cooked books, creative accounting practices, military contacts, restructuring contracts and biotech patents. They are discovering, as others before them, the economy-destroying power of a wealthy family and a private vendetta. In the ruins of an almost two hundred and twenty year old constitution, under a flag emblazoned on the screens of corporate controlled twenty-four-hour media, we have made a politically expedient promise, to ourselves and to the world: We will not relent until America no longer knows the difference between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and our nation blames Iraq for September 11 and the rise of al Qaeda. What my Daddy left incomplete, I will finish, Brent Scowcroft be damned.

I believe there is a reason that history has matched this global complexity with my intellect, although I have no idea what it is. America pretends to be tolerant and just. We respect the faith of Islam, even as we actively encourage, if not befriend and invite to the White House those whose actions defile that faith, like Franklin Graham or Jerry Falwell. Ask our female servicemembers, who when not flying B-2 Spirits, sit obediently in the back of cars wearing abayas or burkas, safe only but for the company of men. We fight, to impose our will, hang the Ten Commandments in our courtrooms, give money to Churches under the guise of compassionate conservatism, so that anti-abortion sentiment can and will flourish, and all the resulting abused and unwanted kids that we don’t incarcerate or execute can join America’s labor force in our quest to maintain global dominance. To defend and extend the blessings of corporate globalization and my Daddy’s New World Order, now that, as President, I’ve finally ventured outside of the United States.

We cannot know all the lies ahead. Yet we do know that God, or CIA-trained Osama bin Laden, has placed us together in this moment, to grieve together, to pretend together, to serve each other and our country. And the duty you have been given — defending my Presidency at the expense of your freedom — is my privilege, and one which I don’t share.

We're ill prepared for this journey. And our prayer tonight is that Jesus will see us through, and keep Allah worthy.

Tomorrow is September the 12th. A milestone is passed, and a mission goes on, and I will make my case before the United Nations so that my unilateralism can be masked by lack of global consensus as we prepare body bags for your sons and daughters. Be confident. Our country is strong. I know I said that about our economy before Enron and malfeasance muddied the waters and revealed how strong a house of cards can be, but congress can surely investigate the massive intelligence failures that resulted in September 11 and Martha Stewart at the same time. Look how well they did in connecting the first bomb at the World Trade Center in 1993 with airline security and Monica Lewinsky. And our cause is even larger than our country. Always has been. Ours is the cause of human shame: freedom eroded by coercion, and guarded by money. This ideal of America is the scourge of all mankind. That hope drew millions to this harbor, and now will turn millions right back from whence they came. That fervor still lights our way. And the shadow lurks in the darkness. And the darkness will not overcome it.

May God help America.


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