Sorry about another political post, but one of the commenters from Friday said I was against the war in Afghanistan and against criticizing Islamo-fascists in general because I believe terrorism to be largely America’s fault anyway. Not that my opinion about this matters much (god knows my vote didn’t), but it’s actually a little simpler than that.
I need to come clean about my own personal response to 9/11, which is on my mind since Tessa and I lay in bed and recapped those awful months last night. I think I was basically fine for the month of September 2001, still jacked up on the “high” that accompanies a war zone, but as the days grew shorter and colder, living in downtown Manhattan got a lot tougher.
By November, I was having small waves of apocalyptic dread; by Christmas, they were tsunamis. The last time I fought with my brother Sean was around New Year’s 2002, when I was filled with rage that anyone could go back to the city and get on with their lives when I was so paralyzed. In January, I stopped eating for two weeks and lost about fifteen pounds. I turned to the internet for solace, figuring that my “research” on terrorists using nukes or biological weapons would edify me, but the more I read, the more I descended into madness.
In February, I checked myself into the Washington Square Institute psych program, and met with two of the worst therapists in the history of psychology. They sat and stared at me, asking no questions, until I couldn’t stand it anymore. As I was broke, and it was free, I guess I got what I paid for.
By March, we were editing the Pink House movie and took a few road trips, which put my devastating anxiety on “pause.” In April of 2002, I made a pact with myself to do two things: a) illegally start taking some of Tessa’s old Celexa pills, and b) keep this blog regularly, which I have done since that day.
But back to the topic at hand. In those early days of my dread, I wanted to blow the Middle East off the face of the fucking map. I felt like they – whoever “they” were – had taken my sanity away, and I wanted them to pay. I hated that I had to live in a world with nuclear weapons that could EVER be used by terrorists, and I told Tessa that no matter what happened with us (we weren’t even engaged yet), there was no way I wanted to bring a child into a world this fucked up.
When Bush started bombing Afghanistan, many New Yorkers were ambivalent. Not in the “couldn’t care” sense, but in the “someone has to pay for this but we can’t take any more death” sense. We knew the blowback, if any, had a really good chance of hitting us again, and we were exhausted, still ravaged by the remains coming up from the steaming ground by Battery Park. My anti-war stance was, in the beginning, fueled by self-protection in a target zone.
Even now, more than three years later, Afghanistan is still a shithole, warlords rule any lands outside of Kabul, the Taliban is regrouping, Mullah Omar and OBL are still at large, and Afghanistan’s biggest export is opium. Nice.
Let’s not even get into the Iraq mess. We can’t see how colossal a fuck-up it is, because we’re living in it, like ants roaming the Great Meteor Crater in Arizona. Maybe some of you conservatives are cool with living in the Dark Ages, but let it be known that a few of us tried to say something.
Eventually, what fueled my hopelessness was the realization there was NO WAY to fully stamp out this kind of terrorism with force. The only way to ensure my family’s survival was to TAKE AWAY the things that made this part of the world furious with us in the first place. America had to stop behaving badly; that’s not some gooey flower-child mantra, it’s the truth.
Deep, deep inside themselves, I think every conservative has a healthy dose of self-loathing, because they know America to have been very, very bad to a lot of the world. They know all the shit we’ve pulled, all the governments we’ve manipulated, all the dioxin we’ve dumped in the ocean, and they sublimate this horror with heavy doses of furious denial, and a two-decade assault on liberals. No wonder they’re more interesting on cable TV, these guys are as conflicted as Shakespearian antagonists.
Okay. Yes, yes, there are a few intractable bad guys in the Middle East, people hell-bent on killing as many Americans as they can, and they need to be taken out. But there aren’t very many of them.
That’s the lie I fell for. The lie of “the enemy” took away almost a year of my life. You conservatives are so fucking sure of yourselves, so convinced you’re right about “how the world really works” and how us liberals can’t accept the threats we now face, and how we blame America first and sympathize with terrorists.
Honestly, I can’t fathom your hubris – it takes a boggling amount of self-delusion to think you can predict our future. I’m a pacifist, as faggy as it sounds. I don’t like killing humans, and I’m humble enough to accept that I can’t know the future. Wars like Afghanistan and Iraq are fought in a way to force the future into our liking, but it never works. Thousands are dying on BOTH sides while you snicker with derision at us clueless lefties, but seriously, I’ve lived in your world for a while now, and I’d like to know what’s so fucking goddamn funny about peace, love and understanding.