The Snapping Point

I’ve been saying for some time that cognitive dissonance can only be stretched so far. Eventually it either snaps or surrenders to pure delusion.

This week I ‘spect a whole lot of Americans finally reached a snapping point.

The UAE-port deal is being attacked from both the Left and the Right, and lefties and righties are voicing many of the same objections. But on a more fundamental level, Left and Right are seeing two entirely different “Portgates.” Many on the Right are befuddled; like this fellow, Portgate is an inexplicable anomaly. Suddenly Muslims who boycott Danish goods and practice female genital mutilation are “moderate” Muslims who can be trusted, arch-foe Jimmy Carter is a Bush ally, and Presidential Brother Neil Bush is auditioning for the next Michael Moore film. The world has turned upside down.

But on the Left, we’re not surprised at all. This is the same old Bush we’ve disliked all along. And if righties still don’t get it, I suggest they rent “Fahrenheit 911” and watch it carefully for clues.

But our alarm at Bush is about more than selling out our security to Bush’s Arab business cronies. It’s true that the Bushies began to compromise our security as soon as they took office — for example, by interfering with FBI investigation of the U.S.S. Cole bombing because justice for the Cole was less important to the Bush White House than good relations with Yemen. But we lefties have been objecting to many other practices and characteristics of Bushism. We are alarmed because our national resources are being sold off at bargain-basement prices to big GOP donors; our children’s future is mortgaged to foreign bankers, the federal government cloaks itself in unprecedented secrecy even as it threatens citizens’ constitutional rights to keep their personal lives private. Among other things.

Yet these past five + years, every time we on the Left bring up these issues, the Right hoots us down and calls us “looney” and “unhinged.”

Well, my dears, who’s unhinged now?

If history is our guide, most righties will eventually find a way to rationalize the UAE deal and come back to the Bush cultie fold. But at least this episode reveals that years of carefully cultivated fear can’t be erased overnight. And make no mistake, the Bush Administration has spent nearly every waking moment since 9/11 carefully cultivating fear. And until now the fear-mongers have not been, shall we say, overly discriminating about who it is we’re supposed to be fearing.

Paul Krugman writes,

When terrorists attacked the United States, the Bush administration immediately looked for ways it could exploit the atrocity to pursue unrelated goals especially, but not exclusively, a war with Iraq.

But to exploit the atrocity, President Bush had to do two things. First, he had to create a climate of fear: Al Qaeda, a real but limited threat, metamorphosed into a vast, imaginary axis of evil threatening America. Second, he had to blur the distinctions between nasty people who actually attacked us and nasty people who didn’t.

The administration successfully linked Iraq and 9/11 in public perceptions through a campaign of constant insinuation and occasional outright lies. In the process, it also created a state of mind in which all Arabs were lumped together in the camp of evildoers. Osama, Saddam — what’s the difference?

To be fair, President Bush himself has not spoken about the “clash of civilizations,” I don’t believe. He has plenty of proxies to do it for him. But if you know anything at all about the hard-core Right, you know most of ’em are looking at the “war on terror” and seeing a war against Islam — just as their counterparts in the Muslim world see themselves engaged as a war against the West. And the White House hasn’t worked real hard at discouraging that point of view. As Krugman writes, “After years of systematically suggesting that Arabs who didn’t attack us are the same as Arabs who did, the administration can’t suddenly turn around and say, ‘But these are good Arabs.'”

At The Nation, William Greider gloats at bit at David Brooks, who called Portgate an instance of political hysteria.

A conservative blaming hysteria is hysterical, when you think about it, and a bit late. Hysteria launched Bush’s invasion of Iraq. It created that monstrosity called Homeland Security and pumped up defense spending by more than 40 percent. Hysteria has been used to realign US foreign policy for permanent imperial war-making, whenever and wherever we find something frightening afoot in the world. Hysteria will justify the “long war” now fondly embraced by Field Marshal Rumsfeld. It has also slaughtered a number of Democrats who were not sufficiently hysterical. It saved George Bush’s butt in 2004.

I do hope that someone digs up one of Bush’s 2004 campaign speeches in which he derides John Kerry for his “global test” remark. As Digby reminded us,

Bush has been playing politics with this complicated situation for years now, saying things like “you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.” He spent the entire presidential campaign taunting John Kerry for allegedly requiring a “global test” and using his applause lines like a bludgeon:

    I will never hand over America’s security decisions to foreign leaders and international bodies that do not have America’s interests at heart.

If you’ve forgotten the “global test” spin, you can find an explanation of what Kerry actually said and how the Bushies twisted it at Media Matters. Bush actually said that Kerry “would give foreign governments veto power over our national security decisions.” Oh, please, please, somebody find a video of that and plaster it about the Blogosphere, please. And email the link to Keith Olbermann.

But this is 2006. And now, bless us, the Bush Administration is telling us that turning six American ports over to the government of the United Arab Emirates is a perfectly normal and reasonable thing to do, and anyone who says otherwise is just a racist. Ellen Terich writes,

The Bush administration is aggressively fighting this objection to their cozy deal with the UAE on two fronts. First, it is insisting that the business deal has been thoroughly and legally vetted and thus should be of no concern. In other words, King George is saying “Trust me. I’ll tell you when to be afraid.” Secondly he is sending out the message, through surrogates, that the objection is racist. We shouldn’t object to this company running some of our ports, in other words, if we haven’t objected to companies from other countries running our ports, countries like Britain, Denmark and Singapore.

Is he serious? The monarch who called a “crusade” against Islamic terrorists, who made sure there was an Islamic terrorist alert every month before the 2004 election (and none since), who rounded up countless Muslims, imprisoned them without due process and tortured them, who lied to the people so he could go to war and expand American empire in the Islamic Middle East, and exploited the people’s fear of “Islamo-Fascists” to ensure his re-election, is now chastising the people for being concerned about an Islamic country running U.S. ports? What you reap, you will sow, your majesty! You succeeded beyond your wildest dreams in exploiting the fears, the prejudices, and lack of sophistication of many of your supporters, and now it is possible (although no sure thing considering how the Congress always ends up bowing to your commands) that this little tactic will backfire and cause you to lose what you and your cronies have really been all about: the acquisition of corporate wealth and power.

As Mahablog reader k commented earlier this week, “We are being dismantled brick by brick and sold on the international market. We will be enslaved one way or another because we have lost our economic independence.” Yes, this is how Bush handles national security; by selling us all out.

Are you paying attention, righties?

12 thoughts on “The Snapping Point

  1. “the MSM is too “All over this story” ”
    Yes, and the attack on Iran is likely in March.
    So little time to get hatred and fear of Muslims and Arabs up to speed.

  2. Not only do I want Bush’s “global test” dig against Kerry in the 2004 debates to get much more play, but I also want to see the relevant clips of Fahrenheit 911 played over and over. “Who’s your daddy?” asked Michael Moore. That phrase should become the tagline for this sorry sellout of our country.

    I’m real eager to see Bush’s poll numbers, how many of his True Believers remain, and what their demographic is – extremely rich and senile? Christian right wingers trying to bring on the apocalypse? or what.

  3. I watched a program on C-SPAN today that dealt with the press and the Civil Rights Movement. They also got into current events with this Bush White House. As Helen Thomas asked, “Where is the Outrage? She said there is just silence. She said there was silence with what Hitler was doing also.

  4. I have heard anything out of the religious nut, Pat Robertson lately. Also, what about the fat guy with the “jowls” who said that the cartoon character was gay? I think that it was Sponge Bob Square Pants or something like that, if I don’t have it down pat. (nothing to do with the crazy religious nut P. Robertson).

  5. Maha, re: The snapping point. Filed 12:08 p. m.
    This reminds me of a term that I came up with.
    EVENTUAL REALITY. We are all in fact wearing our own “virtual reality” masks, meaning that we all view things differently, as proven many times. However, EVENTUALLY, external realities intrude on our perceptions, and acquaint us with REALITY. Yes, there is such a thing, and Bush and friends are to have their virtual reality masks pierced, finally.

  6. The port contract is not nearly as interesting as the CACI interrogation contract at Abu Ghraib. Look into it and you see some real intrigue–too hot for our gutless media.

  7. I have sent emails to blogs asking them to find the 2004 presidential debate that has GWB emphatically stating,(not verbatim) “I will not put the security/security decisions in the hands of another country.”. He is countering Kerry on unilateral talks for peace rather than jumping to war. I am so so glad someone else noted this. This will add to the “wiretaps require a court order” video exposing him as a liar. Found your blog on C&L and will be an avid reader. All this has my stomach churning….This administration thinks ALL Americans forgot all he has said in the past and has dull their memory with fear.

  8. Why is there not a no bid contract to clean up and restore New Orleans, Mississippi and Alabama like there was to build prisons and restore the infrastructure of Iraq?
    SLAVERY was FREE labor and the men and women had no choice but to do the work NO MAN wanted to do..e.g. picking masters’ house…..chauffering….with no one to turn to for help. GUEST WORKER is FREE(less than minimum wage) labor and the men and women had no choice but to the work NO MAN (allegedly) wants to do..e.g…picking tomatoes./beans…cleaning Misters’ house….hotel worker…..with no one to turn to for help.
    Do these sound similar/ familiar?? Only a small salary is added.

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