February 26, 2004

THE ROOTS OF HORROR: The Consequences of Denial

Even though these developments were completely predictable, I nonetheless find the particular manner in which they have occurred somewhat amazing. First, we have this little exercise in bad fiction [link no longer working]:
In a blow to the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives has told the White House and fellow Republicans that he will not bring up legislation to extend its May 27 deadline, officials said on Wednesday.

President Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, personally had appealed to Speaker Dennis Hastert to reconsider, and the Illinois Republican met on Wednesday with Bush at the White House.

But the speaker's spokesman, John Feehery, said Hastert told the White House and members of the House Republican conference that "it's a bad idea to extend the commission and ... that we're not going to bring any legislation up."

The commission wants a 60-day extension through July 26 to complete its final report on the attacks. Despite initial objections, Bush backed the extension and the Senate is moving forward with legislation.

But Hastert cast serious doubt on its prospects for passage in the Republican-controlled House. "He thinks the (commission's) report is overdue and we need to get the recommendations as soon as possible. He is also concerned it will become a political football if this thing is extended and it is released in the middle of the presidential campaign," Feehery said.

The commission says it needs the extra 60 days to complete hundreds of interviews and review millions of documents.

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice has also refused to testify publicly on the grounds she is a presidential adviser and not a Senate-confirmed Cabinet officer.

Bush and Cheney have only agreed to meet privately with commission chairman Thomas Kean and vice chairman Lee Hamilton, rather than with the full, 10-member panel.

In contrast, former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore have agreed to meet privately with all members of the commission, the panel said.
It's bad enough that the White House has stonewalled this commission repeatedly and continuously since its inception, and that it never wanted such a commission in the first place. It's infinitely worse that the White House apparently has no desire actually to understand what might have happened that contributed to the horrific events of 9/11. But to view the American public as so credulous and irredeemably stupid that they would buy this dime version of "good cop, bad cop" is insulting beyond forgiveness. The administration appears to believe that Americans generally are as stupid and craven as they are.

Then we have this exercise in denial:
Under a thick partisan overcast, the House International Relations Committee on Wednesday sidetracked a resolution calling for a congressional probe of the circumstances surrounding the public outing of a CIA agent whose husband had debunked a Bush administration claim that Iraq obtained uranium from Africa.

By a 24-22 margin, the GOP-controlled committee voted along straight party lines to report the resolution adversely to the House. In effect, such votes quash any chance that a measure like this would ever be taken up or, in this case, that a prompt election-year congressional inquiry into this case would be launched. ...

Two other committees in the House -- Intelligence and Judiciary -- have likewise voted to sidetrack the resolution sponsored by Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J. The Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted 17-8 to report the measure adversely, as did the Intelligence Committee by a 10-3 margin when it met Jan. 28. The House Armed Services Committee plans to take up the measure on Wednesday, with the panel's Republican majority assuring the same outcome.
So much for being concerned about national security, and about the safety and the lives of those people who take great risks to ensure our safety.

What I find hard to absorb in all this is that Bush's most ardent defenders still view him as a knight in shining armor, riding to the rescue of the United States and Western civilization against the most evil enemies ever known to man. They believe this despite the consistent record of failure and destructive action compiled by this administration. They believe this, despite the numerous, ongoing, endless examples of Bush's complete disinterest in identifying the intelligence failures leading to 9/11, his ongoing failure to remedy any of those defects, and his utter lack of interest in determining if people in his administration put the lives of CIA operatives in jeopardy and compromised intelligence operations more generally for the sake of political payback.

Whatever the Bush administration puts the greatest premium on, it is most assuredly not the security and well-being of America and her citizens. But the ability of certain people to deny facts which are lying in plain view directly in front of them is endless.

There certainly are a great number of people who can't handle the truth and don't want to know what it is, and most of them are either highly placed in this administration or to be found among its most insistent defenders. If and when there are further terrorist attacks here in the United States, which the administration constantly tells us there will be, don't ever forget that they have had more than enough time to take corrective action -- and they have resolutely refused to do so.

On top of Bush's proposal to the gut the central meaning of the Constitution -- its fundamental guarantee of equality for all citizens [which Bush would eviscerate by means of his support for the Federal Marriage Amendment] -- he thus makes more and more certain that history will be very likely to judge him as among the very worst of Presidents. Anyone who supports him for reelection, especially if it appears that Congress will remain in Republican hands, is no friend of mine -- or of security for our nation, or of liberty or freedom.

And frankly, it no longer interests me what mental gymnastics they go through to convince themselves otherwise. They have made themselves irrelevant -- in terms of the actual threats that confront us, the threat to the United States that Bush himself has come to represent and, most importantly, facts and reality.

To demonstrate just how far such a denial of reality can take you, consider these words of a man of remarkable brilliance -- a man who was not compelled to write these words, but did so out of a deep belief in the correctness of his ideas. Here is this man, writing in 1934:
The Aryan unconscious...contains explosive forces and seeds of a future yet to be born...The still youthful Germanic peoples are fully capable of creating new cultural forms that still lie dormant in the darkness of the unconscious of every individual--seeds bursting with energy and capable of mighty expansion. The Jew, who is something of a nomad, has never yet created a cultural form of his own and as far a we can see never will, since all his instincts and talents require a more or less civilized nation to act as host for their development. ... In my opinion it has been a grave error in medical psychology up till now to apply Jewish categories--which are not even binding on all Jews--indiscriminately to Germanic and Slavic Christendom. Because of this the most precious secret of the Germanic peoples--their creative and intuitive depth of soul--has been explained as a morass of banal infantilism, while my own warning voice has for decades been suspected of anti-Semitism. Their suspicion emanated from Freud. He did not understand the Germanic psyche any more than did his Germanic followers. Has the formidable phenomenon of National Socialism, on which the whole world gazes with astonished eyes, taught them better? Where was that unparalleled tension and energy while as yet no National Socialism existed? Deep in the Germanic psyche, in a pit that is anything but a garbage-bin of unrealizable infantile wishes and unresolved family resentments. A movement that grips a whole nation must have matured in every individual as well.
That was Carl Jung, who was Swiss and, as Alice Miller notes in Thou Shalt Not Be Aware where she quotes this excerpt from his Collected Works, he "did not have to accommodate himself to the Nazi regime," and "wrote these words out of conviction."

These are some of the results of the mechanism of denial and obedience, a mechanism which requires that reality be obliterated, so that the threat of unpleasant facts cannot come too close and so that authority will not be questioned -- even when those facts lead to the deaths of untold millions of people and a war that engulfs the entire world.

People ought to consider this warning from history -- before it becomes too late, once again. Unfortunately, if history itself is any guide, all such warnings will be disregarded, and the nightmare may envelop us still another time.

But I still hold out hope that it will not happen.