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"I See New York Firemen Going Opossums Going Down."

Loss of Innocence? Hello?

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, September 26, 2001.

Eerily starting with that great Kent Brockman wannabe, Tom Brokaw, the American Media has become devoted to the theory that we and everything are all different after September 11. Worse, America - we are told - has lost its innocence. Only annoying at first, after Bush's bid for plenipotentiary rule over the Constitution this week with no known sunset to his powers and a new Cabinet post to enforce it, we need to glance again at this very odd concurrence of views and circumstance that could lead to a serious eroding of our liberties and make our government barely discernible from a host of others, including the Taliban's.

I am not thrilled with fighting a war to rid the world of Islamic extremists in order to turn over our nation to Christian extremists. If this war is about anything, it's about fighting the possibility of any right-wing religious group coming to power anywhere. If America thinks the Christian right, given the power of the Taliban, would be any more enlightened, just read what they've been saying for some years now, much as the Islamic right has done pretty much what they said they would do come to power, what the Orthodox Jews say they will do come to power in Israel. The right wing of all religions seem to be the same: Patriarchal, oppressive, hypocritical, power-mad and approved by God. To fight them is to fight God.

Because Brokaw and his kind spend a lot of time in New York and Washington, and in the air between, their lives certainly changed immediately and probably forever. No carry on luggage, no exceptions to safety rules. Traffic routes will have to be altered, limo drivers will have to learn new traffic patterns and stop at checkpoints. Brokaw's life has been impacted, and because he sees himself as America, his conclusions fall into place.

But my life has not been impacted in any meaningful sense. And truthfully, neither have yours. The airline slowdown is the equivalent of a bad snowstorm at Dulles or Logan to Denver. We are not victims. New York has victims. My eyes do not well, my throat does not constrict if the Dow Jones is struggling to climb above 8000. Big deal. It's down where it probably belongs, but it's climbing fast again. And the war economy hasn't even kicked in. Wait till the orders for twenty five thousand Tomahawk missiles and the replacement gear climbs aboard.

And people, what innocence have we lost? Last I heard, we lost it in Oklahoma City or Vietnam; the media told us we had. Of course, we lost it before that when Kennedy was killed, and then recall when the phrase appeared before: when the Soviets exploded a nuclear bomb, when Roosevelt was killed, when Pearl Harbor was bombed, when the Great Depression started, when Wilson sent us overseas, when the Titanic sank, when our Armed Forces admitted horrible atrocities inflicted on the Philippines, when McKinley and Garfield were killed, when Lincoln was killed, when the Civil War........I mean, for God's sake, how many losses of innocence can we endure? Was the United States ever innocent? Or just ignorant? For the media to trot out that hoary old cliché is about as convincing as a kitschy old whore professing recent virginity before her newest John.

I heartily dislike the request to give a conservative government great power and trust them and go back to bed, they'll protect us. I don't trust them and I'm well rested, thank you. My suspicion of the administration makes the fact of September eleventh no less horrible. They use that horror to get horrific powers without deadline to give them back.

Nonetheless, the fuelling events are real, embarrassingly compelling in their melodrama. Running into the twin towers to save lives, New York's firefighters could initially have been guilty of non-appreciation of their danger, burning so far above them. The cops below, controlling chaos with competence and courage, could have been just as ignorant of the giant vegematic about to descend. Revisionists could have had a field day writing history in a few years, coughing into their sleeves and writing things like "had they known...." But one tower fell, and nobody, absolutely nobody, would have remotely damned the rescue units from running. Because they surely knew.

They did not run. Nothing in military history, not the Charge of the Light Brigade, nor Pickett's Charge, not Leonidas at Thermopylae, could possibly have been as magnificently noble or as surely doomed as those men and women of the New York Fire Department, an illustrative example of their probable immediate fate all around them, continuing to move forward and up the second tower on the chance that they could save innocent lives utterly unknown to them. It is not falsely sentimental to rhapsodize about that bravery. There it is, right on videotape. Such things exist. Giving your life in the remote chance you could save a stranger.

In our time, only the Soviet stalwarts who willingly gave their lives to turn off the reactor at Chernobyl come close, and some of them were responsible for the fiasco in the first place, and the term 'volunteer' has a rich variety of meanings in Soviet history.

For all the real fears I have about a Republican administration loosely formulating a long term war that allows domestic revision which coincidently allows implementation of conservative social doctrine, I also still see the smoke in the air after the first tower fell, vaguely holding its shape until the wind shooed it away like in a cartoon. Rescuers were still hurtling into the second tower.

You can almost hear a nation of songwriters scribbling away:

"I saw New York firemen going up -
now someone's going down."

This is Dark Cloud. See you next week.