The Super-Patriots Are Hoping Bin Laden Nukes Us
July 1, 2009
OK, that’s a pretty provocative title for a post. But how else do you describe this?:
“The only chance we have as a country right now is for Osama Bin Laden to deploy and detonate a major weapon in the United States — because it’s gonna take a grassroots, bottom up pressure — because these politicians prize their offices, prize the praise of the media, and the Europeans. It’s an absurd situation again, only Osama can execute an attack which will force Americans to demand that their government protect them effectively, consistently and with as much violence as necessary.”
That uber-tough-guy-super-patriot Michael Scheuer, on FOX (where else?) talking to a nodding Glenn Beck. These two ultra-American-warrior-patriots think that unless Bin Laden drops a nuclear bomb on us, we have no hope.
Where to even begin? This actually touches on so many things I’ve been thinking about lately.
First, Michael Scheuer isn’t some idiot off the street corner. Let’s put it this way – he’s not Glenn Beck. Scheuer was a big-shot CIA analyst for over 20 years. He was chief of the Bin Laden Issue Station at CTC. He’s a very prominent terrorism expert on TV and is an analyst for CBS news. The news folks treat him as super-adult-person serious. He is a Grown-Up. And yet, he is a crazy person who says things like this. And this is certainly not the first time he has said something crazy. And he is not alone. George Will, another super-duper-educated smart person grown-up serious adult on TV, doesn’t believe in climate change. His reasoning is something along the lines of: because every year is not necessarily hotter than the preceding one, all the scientists are wrong about global warming. No shit. Bill Kristol is another one. He’s certainly not as serious and adult as Will, but he’s not Glenn Beck, either. He thinks Sarah Palin is the shit and was the person most responsible for her arrival on the national stage. He’s been wrong about almost every single policy issue from the Iraq War to healthcare. Years ago, the press fawned over William F. Buckley. He wasn’t like a lot of other conservatives – he was another adult super-serious person who talked reason. But Al Gore, remember, is an imbecile not to be taken seriously. How is this?? How is it that there is a certain category of smart-sounding-but-nonetheless-stupid people who, no matter what they say, and no matter how wrong they are, are treated as informed expert grown-ups by the national media?
Second, how is it that people on the right can get away with saying just about anything and yet never, ever, get accused of being anti-American? Voicing on national television the desire to see Osama Bin Laden nuke an American city, even in jest, would, one would expect, be sufficient to raise questions about one’s commitment to this country’s security. If a liberal had said anything like this, the accusations would fly. And that person would never, ever, be invited back as an expert. Will Scheuer be back on Fox? Of course! On CBS? You betcha? Will there be an outcry over this? Won’t even appear on the radar screen, folks. Why? Because he’s a right-winger. And if you’re on the right, you are a super-patriot-tough-guy-warrior defending our country and supporting our glorious troops. By definition. We all know that. Republicans love America and just want to keep it safe. The end. Period. And anything that one of that group says can only be interpreted in that light. Look, this guy loves America so much, and so badly wants to keep her safe and basking in the warm glow of freedom, that he is willing to blow her up to accomplish that. That’s what I call love of one’s country. I think Adam Serwer in American Prospect sums the whole thing up:
“But understand, this is not unpatriotic. You can wish all manner of horrors on this country, but as long as these horrors might serve a specific political agenda, you’re not being unpatriotic. Unpatriotic is a public health care plan. Unpatriotic is a judge modifying subprime mortgage loans to keep a roof over someone’s head. Unpatriotic is phosphate free detergent. Patriotic is wishing for a terrorist attack on the United States.”
Exactly right. Climate change is a serious threat to this country. What’s the patriotic thing to do? Buy a Hummer. Eat a steak. Bomb somebody (damn, if only we could bomb the climate!). Do whatever you can to make climate change even worse. Or just deny it entirely! Cap-and-trade? Unpatriotic! The 8 Republicans in the House who voted for cap-and-trade are labeled “trai8tors” by their fellow Republicans!
Third, what exactly is the threat from al Qaeda if not an attack on our country? Silly me, I though the gravest threat from terrorists was the detonation of a nuclear device in an American city. That’s what I’ve been afraid of. Now I find out that we should actually wish for that to get us off our ass and start addressing the REAL threat. Which is what, exactly? Are they going to invade and enslave us? What the hell can these people do that’s worse than blowing up an American city?? Am I missing something? Scheuer imagines these guys as being capable of doing something so terrible that an A-bomb disintegrating Lower Manhattan pales in comparison. What would that be?
Fourth, I was under the impression that the gravest danger from terrorism is our own overreaction. My understanding was that, as horrible as the attack itself is or would be, what’s worse is what we could be provoked to do to ourselves. 9/11 was pretty horrible. Unspeakably horrible. As horrible as it was, though, it was not a threat to the continued existence or standing of the United States in any way, shape, or form. It did not diminish our position in the world. One would assume that al Qaeda wishes for more than killing a tiny percentage of our population, that they actually want to hurt our capabilities in some way. They do that not through killing a few thousand people (again, not to take away from the horrors of 9/11 at all, but those attacks killed 3,000 people, while smoking kills 100,000 in this country every year, and smoking doesn’t represent an ‘existential threat’ to the United States) but through provoking us into launching wars that bog us down in places like Iraq, weaken our military, blow a hole in our finances, weaken our morale, etc. A nuclear attack on a US city would be orders of magnitude more horrible than 9/11. Portrayals in movies, such as Sum of All Fears, of a terrorist attack on the US with a nuclear bomb disgustingly downplay what would actually happen in such an attack. Tens of thousands would die, if not hundreds of thousands. Millions would be injured. Millions would be homeless. A city would burn for days and days, and we would watch helplessly for days as the burned and crippled and maimed went on and on, suffering without any hope of medical care. Our economy would collapse. Cultural treasures would be lost forever – so many, and of such significance, we can’t even imagine. The suffering would be without precedent in this country. Nothing like it has ever happened – it would be beyond our darkest nightmares. Beyond that, with such a threat made real, would people continue to work and live in downtown areas? Obviously terrorists would immediately claim to have more bombs in the wake of such an attack, whether they actually possessed more or not. Would the residents of DC flee in panic after such a threat, in the wake of an attack on Manhattan? The residents of London? Chicago? LA? The damage, the suffering, the loss would be unimaginable. And yet – YET – the United States would endure. The greatest danger of all would be our reaction. How restrained would we be in the wake of such an attack? Imagine the anger, the desire to lash out. What would we do? I can assure you that whatever debates we have now about detentions, torture, occupations of foreign countries, the UN, human rights, etc., would be gone. The gloves would, most assuredly, come off. We would be willing to do things that we now consider unthinkable. THIS is what bin Laden wants. This is the rationale behind a terrorist attack.
And this is what Michael Scheuer and Glenn Beck want, too. Patriots, both.