First of all, to rent a van and drive it into pedestrians and bike riders and collide with a school bus and run out of the van into the street waving a pellet and a paintball gun so you get shot by the police, likely to be killed but miraculously not, is a horrifying and cruel and insane action and you can accurately characterize it in many, many other negative ways — but to call it “cowardly” is idiotic. Every politician marches this word out when there’s an attack and every one of them knows he or she is lying. If you think it’s so cowardly go try it. I’m baffled why we think this word is necessary — I don’t understand how it actually makes people feel better. Somebody mugs me, shoots me, knifes me, runs me down, I don’t think, well, he’s a coward. He should have what? Argued with me? Challenged me to a duel?
Second: I’m listening to the press conference in NYC now; the Mayor and Governor, after deploying their “coward” and “cowardly” charges, are sanctifying, as with a Lenten litany, the MANY agencies of security and police that were called in to action yesterday to deal with the emergency and to investigate it in its aftermath. This is a core ritual of the Holy Church of Security; each invocation increases the power of these agencies, makes them unassailable politically and thereby solidifies the power of the state.
Meanwhile, in related world news, the French yesterday rendered as permanent the powers of policing that were instituted temporarily two years ago there, in the form of measures taken to address “a state of emergency”. We did this, in the US, with Patriot Act renewals (carrying huge majorities in both houses) in 2006, 2011, and 2015, creating permanent security apparatuses out of a host of measures taken and authorized originally, and in a high emotional state, as TEMPORARY. So remember, always remember — these powers are NEVER TEMPORARY. The modern state, granted a new licit power, will NEVER relinquish it. What has happened in the United States since 9/11 is the relentless creation of a police state– at the local level, where the number of homicides by police have risen exponentially, killing few enemies of the United States but many poor people; at the state level where large state police forces (and many urban ones too) have been provided weapons of war by the Department of Defense, weapons which in such hands can ONLY be deployed against our own citizens; and nationally, where no form of surveillance seems to be outside the authority of the national security agencies, and where we have essentially invisible and unregulated prisons from which people can never be released as well as dozens more “high security” prisons in which people are routinely brutalized and isolated, which is another way of saying tortured.
So — did those cowardly terrorists of 9/11 fail to destroy us? It appears not.