I’ve Seen This Movie Before

Burned out cars at the site of a Hamas terror attack on a music festival in Israel.

On Saturday, in the immediate wake of one of the most horrifying acts of terrorism the world has ever seen, a prominent American politician issued the following statement:

I condemn the horrific acts we are seeing unfold today in Israel against children, women, the elderly, and the unarmed people who are being slaughtered and taken hostage by Hamas. Such senseless violence will only repeat the back and forth cycle we’ve seen, which we cannot allow to continue. We need to call for deescalation and ceasefire. I will keep advocating for peace and justice throughout the Middle East.

Sounds pretty reasonable, correct? It condemns the horror unleashed on defenseless Israelis by Hamas, and also calls for peace. One might not agree with the call for peace right now, but I would imagine most should agree it is a respectful opinion that is calling for an end to suffering like we just saw. Right?

This is the person who issued it:

If you spend about, oh, 30 seconds perusing the Electric Bullshit Machine That Elon Runs (TwitterX), you will find people declaring that Rep. Ilhan has not condemned Hamas and loves seeing dead Israeli babies. This is, of course, part of what I wrote about Monday, that social media and war are a toxic, stupid mix.

What progressive Democrats like Omar, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, etc. are saying (condeming Hamas’ terrorism but calling for de-escalation) actually is not too far off from what their ISRAELI progressive counterparts are saying. However, there is still a lot of condemnation of them, including coming from fellow Democrats. There are attempts to tie them to woefully misguided and, well, kinda fucked up statements supporting Hamas by left organizations such as a few local Black Lives Matter groups (the Chicago one getting railed about their awful statement is not affiliated with the national organization), a Harvard law student group, some Democratic Socialist chapters, etc.

These are all painfully stupid and cold-hearted statements to make, but they are not made by people with any real power. Meanwhile, top-level Republican elected officials are openly calling for genocide of Palestinians. Curiously enough, the Very Wisened Minds of the Political Discourse are fairly quiet about this part of it. Even when the Republican front-runner seems to insinuate that the Democrats are all in with Hamas.

Not surprisingly, there are no editorials insisting that Republicans get their PARTY’S LEADER in line like there are that lecture progressive elected Democrats that they must get @revolution6969 on TwitterX to stop posting to his 24 followers that Israel had it coming.

Why am I getting a feeling of Deja Vu. Oh, yes. I am getting Early Aughts Flashbacks.

As the second war in Iraq was underway, most Americans were in a grief- and fear-induced fever dream from the 9/11 terror attacks. Many Americans wanted blood, even if it came from people who just looked like the 9/11 terrorists. If I had a dollar for each time my questioning of the wisdom of invading Iraq was answered with IF YOU ARE NOT WITH US YOU ARE WITH THE TERRORISTS, I would be long retired. Not supporting military actions in Iraq meant that I obviously didn’t care about the dead people on 9/11. The people desperately leaping to their deaths on that horrible day to escape flames would be invoked as a justification for lying about WMDs.

This was not limited to Republicans. Not at all. Democrats supported the war. This level of frenzy, of insisting that you react to anything America did in response to 9/11 with the correct level of hysteria led to a lot of dumb things. This was not limited to merely being mired in a no-win military conflict for literal decades. Two years after 9/11, SEVEN IN TEN Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks. God help you if you dared say “um, I don’t think Saddam had anything to do with 9/11” – I GUESS YOU MUST BE ON THE SIDE OF AL-QUEDA????

What makes me a little worried is horrifying moments like Saturday feeds more horrifying moments. As Tom Sullivan wrote in 2009:

We invaded Iraq on trumped-up intelligence. We conducted illegal surveillance on our own citizens. We imprisoned people without charge, here and abroad. We rendered prisoners for torture and tortured others ourselves in violation of international law. All the while, millions of staunch, law-and-order conservatives supported and defended it, and still do. Vigorously.

Did America keep its head? Uh, no.

I don’t think it is a reach to wonder if 9/11 was something of a turning point in America, a moment that made a good number of us mean, crazy, and apt to go off the deep end. As Paul Krugman wrote in 2009:

Something is going very wrong in the heads of a substantial number of Americans.

It only seems to be getting worse. Sullivan warns this week about war fever taking hold similar to 1990 and 2001. Anne Applebaum in The Atlantic laments that open brutality is not just promoted but also celebrated, as a sick form of revenge.

AOC just Tweeted this. See the replies for what Applebaum is talking about.

Hamas and organizations like it must be stopped. But Israel cannot commit genocide in order to do so. We as a community of human beings have to be better than that.

The last word goes to Edwin Starr.