As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 arrives this weekend, haunting video footage aired on a CNN special of New York firefighters entering the smoldering twin towers of the World Trade Center — many facing sure doom but doing it anyway, because it was their job to save and protect anyone that they might find alive in there — generates a deep visceral reaction.
These proud heroes were memorialized at the time in a two-page spread of tiny mugshots published in the New York Times a week or so after the attack, and that was laminated and posted by our resident World War II veteran, the late octogenarian at the time and advertising salesman par excellence, Blackie Hawthorne, on the door to his office where it remained for years. With a couple office moves since, I really don’t know what happened to it, but if it shows up, it’s going right back up on the wall of our current office.
Of course, silent mugshots don’t elicit the same gut reaction that video does, with footage of close ups of the heroes not hesitating, at least externally, to rise up to their duty. The only connection to them I could draw was the fact that “Saturday Night Live” comedian Pete Davidson’s dad was among the 300 firefighters whose lives were lost that day. I’m a huge Davidson fan.
Davidson was only about seven years old at the time, and the trauma of the infamous day on him and his mom had to have been, as with all the other firefighter families and the nearly 3,000 overall killed in the attack, unfathomable.
Earlier this year, just two decades away from 9/11, came an attack on our domestic soil every bit as foreboding and dangerous to our national sovereignty as 9/11.
That was the siege of our nation’s capitol building on January 6, when only an extraordinary effort by sworn defenders of our democracy, as in 9/11, prevented a very real coup and loss of many lives. It is our solemn duty as Americans, as the recipients of the many hard-fought victories for our freedom and self-determination, to stand up against such threats, which remain ongoing, now a coup in slow motion against American democracy not by al Qaeda or the Taliban, but by an arm of one of our major domestic political parties, the Republicans.
The extraordinary ban on abortions that was voted into law in Texas this week is just a foretaste of the kind of totalitarian rule these Republicans intend to foist on us all. This is fascism in the classic sense, the arbitrary suspension of basic human rights to an entire segment of our population, and done without remorse. It is going to get much worse.
These fascists will resort to deadly domestic violence to get their way, as they did on January 6, when there was far too much tacit support for their riot by uniformed members of law enforcement and, of course, GOP political leaders. Expect more domestic terrorism and mass killings.
In the face of this, it must be emphasized that it is not domestic terrorists and their GOP allies, alone, who are pushing this, but also leaders of our nation’s sworn enemies abroad, in particular the Russians.
It was a sad day when the FBI proclaimed it did not find any coordinated foreign influence behind the January 6 siege. Did none of them bother to read the Mueller Report about the Russian influence in the White House, itself, and the conclusion that Donald Trump is effectively a Russian agent?
This is not speculation, but the product of an extensive investigation that was torpedoed by Trump interests when it came out.
I sought to document the salient points in my short pamphlet, “The January 6, 2021 Capitol Sacking: Putin’s Role” (BCI Books, available from Amazon).
But sad compartmentalization of intelligence, among other forms of obfuscation and dissembling, has blinded some of our best to these clear facts.
It is going to take a herculean effort to weed out the massive treason working for Moscow in our midst, and to revive the core values upon which our democracy depends.
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at [email protected]