9-11 at ten: a frustrated report from New York City

Ten years after 9-11, there are many hopeful signs that the world is finally moving on from the dystopian dynamic unleashed by the attacks. As we pointed out after the killing of Osama bin Laden: Al-Qaeda has been utterly left behind by the Arab Spring, which has already overturned two authoritarian regimes (Tunisia and Egypt), with more almost certainly on the way. While there have been few and small Islamist protests over Osama’s killing, basically secular and progressive protests against dictators are mounting throughout the Arab world, the greater Middle East and beyond. Al-Qaeda has been relegated to playing catch-up, hoping that continued terror attacks can transform the struggles in Yemen and Morocco from popular civil revolutions to jihadist civil wars. It hasn’t been working. Alas, a brief review of the streets of downtown Manhattan on this day indicates how little these changes have extended to popular consciousness in New York CIty and the United States…

The official and mainstream commemorations, of course, bristle with American flags and strike a tone of shamelessly maudlin patriotism. Even after 10 years and the fall of the Bush regime, there isn’t a trace of grappling with the fact that the US is still at war in Afghanistan and Iraq (compare less than four years of war after Pearl Harbor), with the horrific toll in human lives these adventures have taken (dwarfing 9-11, of course), with the dramatic erosion of civil liberties (as “freedom” is ironically reified in saturation propaganda), with the fact that the Guantánamo Bay prison camp is still open, with the normalization of torture, even with the seemingly irreversible economic decline that is related to the hubristic spasm of military escapades.

But this is to be expected. What is utterly frustrating is the complete absence of any progressive alternative to official self-congratulatory propaganda—or, at least, none was in evidence on the streets of downtown Manhattan today. Bicycling down Broadway toward Ground Zero, this observer came across three protest events organized by what passes for the “left” these days—each more offensive than the one before it.

The first, on the sidewalk outside the north end of City Hall Park, was an art exhibit on an anti-war and pro-human rights theme. There was little overtly obnoxious about the displays, which sought to remind viewers precisely of the human toll from the US reaction to 9-11—representations of the iconic images from Abu Ghraib, and so on. But the exhibit, if one stopped to check, was organized by 9-11 Global Memorial, a project of World Can’t Wait, which is in turn a front for the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), a doctrinaire Maoist cult. It is obvious that the RCP regards the artistic contributors to the 9-11 Global Memorial as useful idiots when one recalls that the party is the stateside voice of Nepal’s Maoist insurgents and Peru’s Sendero Luminoso—which are responsible for grave and voluminous human rights abuses of their own. As we have pointed out, Sendero Luminoso considers the very idea of human rights to be a “bourgeois” construct, and has even been credibly accused of enslaving indigenous people in their zones of control in Peru’s jungles. And in case you had any doubt about RCP’s degree of control over the 9-11 Global Memorial, the largest display there was dedicated to lengthy quotes from the party’s guru, chairman Bob Avakian.

Even the effort to mask RCP’s control by promoting more mainstream “progressive” figures is pretty ugly. If you go to the World Can’t Wait website, their “Voices of Resistance” heroes prominently include Cynthia McKinney, an avid cheerleader for Moammar Qaddafi, and William Blum, a cheerleader for Slobodan Milosevic who welcomed a personal endorsement from Osama bin Laden.

Moving right along. At the south end of City Hall Park was a rally (behind police barricades, of course) where one was immediately greeted by a protester carrying a huge portrait of Moammar Qaddafi reading “WE SUPPORT BROTHER QADDAFI!” It thus immediately became obvious that the rally was led by the International Action Center (IAC), a front group for the retro-Stalinist Workers World Party (WWP) and a fan club not only for Qaddafi, but for Milosevic, Saddam, Deng Xiaoping and assorted other monstrous dictators. (This is well established in our classic exposĂ©, “The Politics of the Anti-War Movement.”) Given their love for Milosevic, the mass murderer of Muslims, it is pretty hilarious that the rally billed itself as the “Emergency Mobilization against Racism, War and Anti-Muslim Bigotry”!

Continuing south, across the street from St. Paul’s Chapel (an historic site where 9-11 recovery efforts were coordinated) was the inevitable gaggle of 9-11 “Truthies” ranting away to passers-by in the usual pseudo-physics babble about “nano-thermite” and “free-fall collapse” (both of which are thoroughly discredited). Every time a tour bus passed, they erupted into deafening and insistent chants of “9-11 WAS AN INSIDE JOB!” It occurred to this blogger that perhaps they should have changed their slogan to “CHANTING REALLY LOUD MUST MEAN WE’RE RIGHT!”

The Truthies and sectarians both continue to fetishize 9-11 as much as the patriots they loathe. For both the patriots (not a word of praise in our book) and the protesters on the streets of Manhattan, it was all about the USA. The Arab and Muslim worlds are finally starting to move on from 9-11, with youth mobilizing to shake off dictators regardless of whether they are backed by the US (Mubarak, Ben Ali, Saleh) or affect an anti-US posture (Qaddafi, Assad). It is time for the US to catch up.

See our last posts on the legacy of 9-11, the idiot left, and the struggle in New York City.

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  1. Truthers
    My biggest issue with the Truthers is that they make any conspiracy theory on 9-11 seem kooky.

    First, hopefully, we can all agree that there were 19 hijackers with support from the terrorist organization Al Qaeda who conspired to commit the attacks on 9-11. So that’s conspiracy theory number one, or maybe more close to a “fact”.

    Secondly, demolition experts can quickly discredit the Truthers’ claim. However, is it so unlikely that the Bush cabal received enough information about the pending attacks so that they could have prevented them, but quickly realized that by doing nothing they could make the attacks work in their favor?

    That’s my theory. There is a lot more to suggest this possibility. And this one keeps them from getting their hands dirty. It also accounts for some things that maybe they didn’t know about, i.e., the Pentagon attack, but isn’t reality always messier?

    Maybe they had enough information to stop the attacks and they knew it was something big, but they didn’t have all the details.

    However, it was the “Pearl Harbor” they needed to get their long sought war in Iraq.

    1. Limited LIHOP thesis
      We’ve always maintained that a limited LIHOP thesis is within the realm of possibility. As we stated last year: The question of what was degree and nature of the Bush administration’s complicity in 9-11 is a legitimate one. However, the more ambitious MIHOP thesis is distinctly less plausible, and all the dogmatic talk about pre-planted explosives, remote-controlled planes or even (!) no planes—is all sheer wackiness.

      1. yeah but Occam sayith
        Any evidence that the Bush cabal had foreknowledge beyond “Bin Laden determined …” is tenuous at best. Yes they treated the attacks like Xmas but the level of plotting involved, even in taking the FBI guy off the case, would have left a trail they were nowhere near competent enough to cover. Another successful US gangster once commented: “Three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead.”

        The truth is scarier: no one was/is in control it was the Swedes, Mossad and the UFOs.

  2. IAC
    I’ve met and worked with IAC people. I haven’t agreed with them on everything, nor with their goals, which is an unrealizable fantasy anyway.

    However, they were a voice among a vast silence for many years on the Iraq war–they’re also outspoken against police abuses. I worked with them because they gave me a camera and editing equipment to speak out against the war, while the Dems and other progressive groups were mostly in a vegetative state.

    Adding to the list of things they addressed where liberals and progressives have been silent or inadequate is the Palestinian question, human rights abuses in Columbia, police violence…

    I couldn’t agree at all for their support for Qaddafi, however.

    I couldn’t, of course, disagree more with their Stalinist sympathies, which might be a correct description of who they really are. But that always seemed like some unreachable goal out in space, while a “Marxist” interpretation of the Iraq War might have been correct.

    Also, I have to admit to meeting some very likeable people there, who seem to have a concern for injustices. It seems some of their solutions are simply misguided.

    1. Anti-IAC
      Come on. If they support Qaddafi (and Saddam and Milosevic and Deng) what business do they have speaking out against the Iraq war or on behalf of the Palestinians? They aren’t aiding these causes, they’re hurting them by mixing them up with evil, genocidal politics. You need to read our exposĂ©.

      1. Anti-IAC
        I had no idea about their support of Saddam and Milosevic and Deng. It didn’t come up at the time when I was working for them. The main issue and reason I made the alliance was the opposition to the Iraq War.

          1. Re: Anti-IAC redux
            At that time they were mostly silent about the issues you point out, but at the same time so was the liberal left regarding the war. I thought the Iraq War was destroying too many lives (for both our military personnel and the people in Iraq) and that it was harming our national security too much to remain silent.

  3. Sobering
    I wonder what drives some of those organizations to take such irrational and extreme positions. I didn’t realize that dictators suddenly become saints (in the view of of these organizations) when the U.S. decides to invade their countries. Is their main goal to oppose and disagree with U.S. imperialism to the absurd degree that they will defend dictators who ought not to be defended? Why is it so hard to oppose and disagree with U.S. imperialism, while still admitting that Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafi, Osama Bin Laden really were/are pretty horrible? It doesn’t take anything away from “the Cause.” Or does it?

    1. IAC is crypto-fascist
      How many times do we have to have the same tiresome conversation? The problem with WWP/IAC is not that they are communists, but crypto-fascists. Do they support the communists in Iraq who oppose the occupation and the jihadists alike? No, they support the clerical reactionary jihadists who want to exterminate the communists and secular left. They supported Saddam, a genocidal tyrant who openly emulated Mussolini. They supported Milosevic and Karadzic, mass-murdering ethno-extremists who betrayed the legacy of Tito. They supported Deng, another mass murderer who similarly betrayed the legacy of Mao and put China on the “capitalist road.” Get a clue already, will ya? Do some reading before you clutter up my website with ill-informed blather.

      And who wants to “deny their free speech”? Did we call for shutting down their websites or banning their newspapers? On the contrary, they are the ones who deny free speech by barring any dissenting voices at the demos that they control. So tiresome to have to repeat the obvious over and over.

      1. IAC alliance
        Well, doesn’t the CIA like to point out that it can’t always pick its allies, that it sometimes has to work with slimy people for a higher goal?

        Again, everything you point out about IAC was hardly on the table when I was working with them–they were just pointing out the wasted lives, civilian and military, from the Iraq War, and I couldn’t agree more with them on that point.

        1. Anti-IAC alliance
          Do we really want to emulate the values of the CIA? How can we protest them for getting in bed with Nazis, neo-fascists like Pinochet, and the Taliban and Osama, when we do the same thing?

          And the point isn’t to beat up on you for having worked with IAC. Please don’t make this personal.