“9/11”: a word filled with feeling, the bulk of it bad, for all but those fortunate enough to have neither experienced nor heard of it. In the heat of the moment, when Islamic terrorists rammed two hijacked jet planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, mortally wounding them and crumbling them into dust in a matter of hours, it may not have been obvious, but that was the day America died as a liberal democracy, the day America ceased to be the beacon of the free world, the day a curtain descended upon America, the West, and the world, plunging all of us into a fascistic nightfall we haven’t recovered from since.
And not because of al-Qaeda; for all the death and destruction they inflicted upon the United States their attack was but a pinprick next to the oppression and terrorism inflicted by the United States government in the name of avenging 9/11, in the name of preventing another 9/11, in the name of “keeping us safe”.
Midnight in America
Mass surveillance; indefinite imprisonment without trial, charge, or even that most minimal right, habeas corpus; starting wars without provocation; torture; mass sexual assault (do TSA body scans and groping ring a bell?); and even state-inflicted murder of American citizens without trial or even criminal charge, literally none of which even by themselves, let alone put together, are compatible with even the barest rudiments of liberal democracy or even the rule of law, were all inflicted upon the American people and the people of the world by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their band of fascist (er, excuse me, “neoconservative”, but the jingoistic police-statist substance is identical) henchmen who had infested the American government, waiting for an opportunity to arise to plunge America and the world into the darkness of violence, destruction, and lawlessness.
Their “War on Terror” stripped America of its liberal democratic character, inflicted grievous crimes against domestic and international law upon people the world over, and outright killed perhaps a million, and yet to this day not a single person involved in the Bush administration’s post-9/11 coup d’état against fundamental norms of liberal democracy have been brought to justice.
Where’s the Justice?
This is striking, considering that every one of the acts I outlined is a serious crime under both international law and American law; one of the offenses they are guilty of, torturing prisoners to death, literally carries a death sentence under the War Crimes Act of 1996, which was passed by most of the same Congressmen who just a few years later went along with the Bush administration’s warmongering authoritarian agenda!
So why have they not been brought to justice? Why have these criminals continued to roam freely, serving as an example to future authoritarians, fascists, and assorted psychotic criminals that if you commit even the most brazen and grievous crimes against the people you enjoy impunity as long as you do it for the almighty State? In a word: Barack Obama. I will never forget when he said “we have to look forward, not backward” when it came to the question of whether or not to prosecute the Bush administration’s war criminals.
The fact that Bush, Cheney, and company were not all immediately arrested, deposed, tried, found guilty, and mercilessly punished for what they did is a moral stain upon both America and Western civilization, but there was still hope that a future administration would change course, setting the precedent that if you pervert a position in government to defile the country and the world you will be punished, just as the Bush administration’s Nazi counterparts in crime were punished at Nuremberg (which itself was still far too lenient, but that’s another story). But no, Barack Obama chose to stab all of us who value freedom and the rule of law in the back, become complicit in their crimes against the people by protecting them from facing justice, and now we are all suffering the consequences.
Lockdown: the Fruit of the Bush Regime
Among these consequences is “lockdown”, which undoubtedly must stand as the word of the year for 2020, the one-word summation of our ruling ideology. How appropriate it is that leading up to the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and the neoconservative coup d’état against liberal democracy and the rule of law that we are dealing with the most bitter fruit of all from the poisonous tree that was the Bush administration’s program to “keep us safe”.
Yes, George W. Bush and his henchmen are responsible for lockdown too, a parting gift from the family and the band of criminals that have put in their best effort to destroy everything people like me ever knew or cared about in our civilization. As Jeffrey Tucker has masterfully demonstrated, the concept of “lockdown” and “social distancing” was first proposed by Laura Glass as part of (of all things) a high-school science fair project in 2006, and later expanded into a scientific paper by Robert J. Glass the same year.
The context for all this was trying to “keep us safe” from a pandemic, which back then was bird flu. Remember when everyone was supposed to be scared of that? The culture of fear remains constant even as it manufactures new boogeymen. The context for the Bush regime’s focus on this topic was the threat of “bioterrorism”, which was a top priority in the 2000s after an anthrax attack occurred very soon after 9/11. Donald Rumsfeld and company infamously suggested around this time that in the event of a bioterrorist attack to seal up your home with plastic wrap and duct tape to protect yourself; obviously by 2006 more effective strategies were desired.
The Lockdown Cult’s invisible Victory
Into this context the debate raged as to whether “social distancing”, a new term apparently coined by the Glass family, was effective. Into this fray D.A. Henderson, who apparently was instrumental in the effort to eradicate smallpox, published a paper repudiating the new hotness for quarantines, closures, restrictions, and lockdowns, which you can view here courtesy of AIER. Henderson’s paper was a reaffirmation of what was in the 20th century mainstream public health policy for epidemics and what today still stands as the best science on the topic, but true to their puritanical and extremely authoritarian stripes the public health establishment couldn’t resist a new excuse for exercising tyrannical power over the public.
The [Bush] administration ultimately sided with the proponents of social distancing and shutdowns — though their victory was little noticed outside of public health circles. Their policy would become the basis for government planning and would be used extensively in simulations used to prepare for pandemics, and in a limited way in 2009 during an outbreak of the influenza called H1N1. Then the coronavirus came, and the plan was put to work across the country for the first time.
So within the Bush regime the faction that supported lockdown won out, their ideas became the default policy for how to respond to a pandemic, and the public health establishment and assorted officials of the deep state lay in wait for the right moment to inflict upon us the destruction of civilization as we knew it. Just like 9/11 provided the neoconservatives the opportunity to establish the jingoistic warmongering police state of their dreams, so too did the coronavirus pandemic provide their successors the opportunity to establish a medical police state of such severity it threatens the continuity of human civilization.
Boston 2013: the Forgotten Lockdown
It’s also worth noting that lockdown policies did not begin with the coronavirus pandemic or even the response to any disease; “lockdown” is a term originally used in prisons, appropriately enough, but the first major expansion of lockdown policies beyond prison walls occurred in Boston in April 2013. During the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bomber the entire city was put on “lockdown”; people were forbidden from leaving their homes and heavily-armed government thugs went door to door searching people’s homes for their man, pointing loaded guns in the faces of women and children, and even aiming their guns at women and children who had the temerity to look out a window!
Don’t believe me? These are excerpts from a CNN article on the subject on April 19, 2013:
Police were alerted to his whereabouts by a man who went outside after authorities lifted an order for residents to stay inside during the manhunt. […]
The city’s subway, bus, Amtrak train and Greyhound and regional Bolt Bus services were shut down. Taxi service across the city also was suspended for a time during the manhunt. Every Boston area school was closed.
Hmm…”authorities” issuing “an order for residents to stay inside”, forcibly shutting down services, businesses, and even all schools. Sound familiar? ABC news goes on with even more parallels:
Public transportation has been suspended and authorities told people at closed stops and stations to go home. No vehicle traffic is allowed in Watertown. A no-fly zone is in place over the city.
“We are asking you to stay home, stay indoors,” police said at a news conference this morning. “We are asking businesses not to open. We are asking people not to congregate outside. We’re asking people not to go to mass transit.”
Even some of the specific language sounds very familiar:
“There is a massive manhunt under way,” Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said. “We are asking people to shelter in place.”
“Shelter in place”, eh? The people who later became lockdown-cultists, especially the “hard” lockdowns favored in places like Australia, must have been taking notes from April 2013 in Boston.
The Intersection of Lockdown and the War on Terror
The excuse for all this tyrannical behavior in Boston? A manhunt for the Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was…an Islamic terrorist (as an aside, the Obama regime, true to fascist form, refused to give him a Miranda warning as the law demands). We see here the roots of lockdown policies in the War on Terror.
Even the very term “lockdown” was used. An NPR article from the time used the term in its headline, as did a New Yorker piece, among many others. Peter C. Earle at The American Conservative is one of the few who have recently noted “Boston’s Forgotten Lockdown”. 2013, not 2020, was the year “lockdown” began to be normalized.
And normalized it was! Time magazine, which might as well change its name to Police State Apologia Weekly, described the lockdown as one of the many “creative methods of keeping law and order.” Sounds like something Joseph Goebbels himself would have written to justify the Holocaust; and more seriously, the excuses for what we have seen in the past 20 years and the very practices being normalized (“prolonged detention” plus “targeted killing”) would justify literally anything, up to and including the Holocaust.
The Chamber of Commerce said “[a] ‘closed’ sign is never a good sign for business, but there are times when it’s the right call for everyone.” If “Boston Strong” (remember that?) was not the go-to slogan for the sheep-like masses to bleat out as they celebrated the violation of their most fundamental freedoms they might as well have added in the mantra of the collectivist drones circa 2020: “We’re all in this together!”
And if that was the response from the victims of the lockdown, you can only imagine what the response was of the director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University: “[i]n terms of both scale and scope, the shelter-in-place that was enforced was extraordinary, perhaps even unprecedented, but so too were the circumstances.”
Normalization of Lockdown beyond Boston
Additionally, it was not an event isolated to Boston in 2013; Becky Akers reported in 2014 that the TSA shut down an entire airport terminal in Detroit for over 2 hours and stopped anyone from leaving due to a minor security breach by one passenger! The TSA itself, of course, is yet another signature product of the War on Terror.
So the lockdown cult and the lockdown world we suffer under today, the defining struggle of our time, is a mere continuation of the War on Terror. America may have been defeated in Afghanistan by the Taliban, Joe Biden might have ended the defining theater of the War on Terror, but today, 20 years after the 9/11 attacks, the War on Terror rages on as hot as ever, having by now shown in more overt fashion what its true purpose was all along: a war by the terrorists in the state against their own people.
Lessons for the next Twenty Years: Let’s make them Better!
The lesson of the past twenty years is that there might be a day of the jackboot, there might be a bright line between liberty and tyranny, democracy and dictatorship, but tyranny before it takes root is normalized in the minds of the society it defiles. The World Wars, the Cold War, and especially the War on Drugs and the War on Crime normalized the authoritarian ideologies that would reach full bloom in the War on Terror, and the War on Terror has in turn normalized the authoritarian ideologies that have reached full bloom in Lockdown.
It is incumbent on all of us on this day and all days to refuse authoritarianism, repudiate tyrants, and resist tyranny. Giving in to the culture of fear, the ideology that freedom may be sacrificed for safety, will only lead to defeat for the cause of freedom, the murder of all the dreams you hold dear, the end of any hope for human civilization, which is the path we have been treading for the past twenty years of terror. It is long past time for us to chart a new path, the path toward greatness, toward the fulfillment of the human spirit, the path not of safety, security, and stability but rather freedom, risk, and opportunity, for in the final analysis the wages of statism is death.