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Dumbo in the Living Roomby Open-Publishing - Sunday 16 November 2008
I voted for Cynthia McKinney because she was the only candidate who sees him (I think it is a he). The others either don’t, or won’t admit it, and I see no significant difference between these two points of non-view.
According to polls about a third of the US population (not to mention the rest of the world) think, or at least suspect, that 9/11 was an inside job, and McKinney was the only candidate who has even mentioned the possibility. Of course I’m glad that Obama has spared us the catastrophe of McCain, but this time I decided to indulge my "conscience"—that is, vote for the person I would really like to see in office—because it was pretty clear to me that Dumbo had decided on Obama, and in the long run we will never break the yoke of the two-qua-one party system unless we vote outside the box.
One could even argue that a McCain victory might have hastened the “revolution,” but that would not have been a reason for me to vote for him. Being over 30, I prefer the slower, less violent road, and it seems to me that Dumbo, too, has decided not to lock us up just yet, which might well have been the consequence of another stolen election and ensuing popular rebellion, civil war, and martial law. What would follow that I don’t know, and—here’s the point—I don’t think Dumbo knows either. This, more than anything else, I feel, explains Obama’s victory.
Dumbo is obviously a rogue, and no one denies his technical expertise, but I don’t think he’s really very bright, not at least in the way that Orwell depicted Big Brother or Huxley Mustafa Mond—who are, after all, fictional. Dumbo is real, and human. In religious terms we are used to equating omnipotence with omniscience, and I will leave it to theologians (like David Griffin?) to play with the idea on that level. Here we are talking earthlings, and I submit that power and intelligence in humans correlate only negatively, if at all.
Dumbo’s agenda may well be to use the Obama hype (see John Pilger*) for another war, e.g., on Iran, with or without another 9/11. Then we will be even worse off than with McCain or Palin, since it will be much easier for Obama to lie to us than it has been for Bush. Considering what Bush has gotten away with, just imagine what Obama could do. If this turns out to be the case, I hope I don’t need to explain how dumb it is.
If we are a shade more optimistic we can believe that Dumbo really doesn’t know what he’s doing. In that case, while we may have gained some breathing space with Obama, Dumbo has, too. If he has just a little more smarts than he has displayed in the last 8 years, he may realize, if only temporarily, that he hasn’t thought it through. The Cheney lobe has been telling him to go ahead and turn the whole world (starting with the USA) into Guantamo, and he has taken a big step in that direction, but what then? Does he really know what he will do with the New World Order, once he gets it? Let us hope that this inkling of self-doubt, this spark of intelligence, has penetrated. It will not save us from him, because as Orwell said, the goal of Power is Power, so it will not be long before the Cheney lobe dominates again. But time is of the essence.
If Dumbo has shifted into a lower gear, as we can hope, there is a certain amount of risk involved for him. Judging from his track record since 9/11 he must feel pretty confident, but Hope is always a dangerous commodity. With someone like Obama, it could get out of hand. People might begin to demand more than Dumbo is willing to give us. It might even affect the charismatic leader himself, if he has not sufficiently internalized the lesson of JFK, which is that Dumbo’s wars are not to be challenged by mere presidents. I don’t think there is much chance of that, frankly, but it’s a straw to clutch.
Rather than hope for salvation in the form of a leader on a white (or black) horse, I think we should concentrate even harder on spreading the truth about 9/11. Nothing else reveals Dumbo as clearly as this, and nothing else is easier to do, thanks to the 9/11 truth movement. At some point, intelligence will triumph over power. This may be a matter of "faith," but if you don’t have it, you’re part of the problem. That’s the long and short of that issue.
Which brings me to what seems to be becoming a recurrent theme with me: homo academicus. Maybe that’s because I’ve spent most of my life in universities but have participated less than wholeheartedly in what Pierre Bourdieu calls the "reproduction du corps." One of my grad school professors put it more bluntly when he accused me of being unwilling to do what is necessary to become a scholar, or something to that effect. Another one told me I was the most stubborn student he’d ever had. I don’t remember what the specific problems were in either case, but in retrospect I can see that in the end they were correct, and that even though they didn’t mean to compliment me, I now consider those judgments to be in my favor.
When I was in my twenties and the draft board was breathing down my neck, since I was in college and still reverent of academia, I listened to people like McGeorge Bundy when they told us that US national security was at stake in Vietnam. Even JFK, I remember reading somewhere, said that McGeorge Bundy was one of the most intelligent people he’d ever met. Who was I to dispute this? The Bundys, the Rostows, the Kissingers (thank God only one of the latter so far) came from MIT and Harvard, the most venerable institutions in the country. I was thus left with the conclusion that by opposing the war I was either an idiot who could not understand what these geniuses were telling me, or I was a coward and a traitor, deserving only jail or exile. The CO review board decided I had no moral ground to stand on because I admitted that I would resort to violence if necessary to save my life or that of my wife or child, which according to McGeorge et al. was precisely the case in Vietnam.
Is it any wonder that I was confused? But since I was also stubborn, one big question stuck in my brain for many years: How could smart people be so fucking stupid?
Fast forward a quarter of a century, when I happened to see a TV documentary* about the JFK assassination. I woke up, like Rip Van Winkle, and found that I also had the answer to the question that I had never managed to completely forget: They weren’t stupid, they were lying.
A few years later, in 1993, I started corresponding with Noam Chomsky*. This was a painful experience which left me, to this day, ambivalent in my feelings about the man (see "Noam"*), and actually brought me back to the same question I’d had many years earlier, only now applied to someone I truly respected and thought I agreed with, except on a single issue (JFK).I could not believe that he was lying. I still can’t.
Then came 9/11, and now we have 100 million Americans who question Dumbo’s version of 9/11, to say the least, but Chomsky is not one of them. Since my background is in linguistics, I look around to other linguists, the most famous of whom, like Chomsky, are considered as and consider themselves not just "word birds" but experts on the human mind ("cognition"), and as "progressives" or at least "liberals," if not as "radical" as Chomsky. I am thinking, for example, of George Lakoff and Steven Pinker. Where are their opinions on 9/11? Why is it that they seem to have no opinion on this subject, or if they do, that it is so naive (if that is the word)? Pinker begins his latest book, "The Stuff of Thought," parroting the official version of 9/11 and apparently accepting it as truth:
"On September 11, 2001, at 8:46 a.m., a hijacked airliner crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York. At 9:03 a.m. a second plane crashed into the south tower. The resulting infernos caused the buildings to collapse, the south tower after burning for an hour and two minutes, the north tower twenty-three minutes after that. The attacks were masterminded by Osama bin Laden, leader of the Al Qaeda terrorist organization, who hoped to intimidate the United States into ending its military presence in Saudi Arabia and its support for Israel and to unite Muslims in preparation for a restoration of the caliphate."
This from a person of his intelligence, of his renown, of his expertise on the subjects of language and the human mind?
Is it any wonder that I am again confused? How can they be so fucking stupid?
Is there any other way to put it? Any other way to couch it in psycho-babble or in some sort of theoretical "construct" that would make it any different from this, from exactly what it looks like and sounds like, and is? What else can you call it but stupidity—unless they are lying? Uninformed? That just doesn’t work with these guys. They have informed themselves. It has been 7 years, for crissakes. David Griffin alone, to take a fellow academic, has written 7 books and many articles about it; they need only have read one.
I have objected to stupidity theory* as a catch-all explanation for virtually everything, especially catastrophes like wars, 9/11, and more recently the financial crisis, this being Dumbo’s favorite "analysis," but in this case I see no viable alternative. I have proposed my own psychological analysis*, but regardless of all that, if stupid is what it looks and acts like, is it not most likely exactly that?
I rest my case. I know how it makes me look. Who am I to question the intelligence of people like Steven Pinker, George Lakoff and Noam Chomsky? I have a neighbor with Down’s syndrome whom I sometimes help across the street at the bus stop, a life-threatening affair because the cars whiz by oblivious to the speed limit or the safety of pedestrians, much less those with Down’s syndrome. He once referred to these drivers, quite vehemently, as "idiots," and I realized that for him this was anything but an idle remark considering how often he must have heard that epithet applied to himself.
He was absolutely right, of course.
*For links see http://www.mdmorrissey.info/dumbo .