It’s September 11

…and you know what that means: endless propaganda.

I apologize for another non-baseball article that is only tangentially related to sports. What will follow is very political in nature and probably controversial. If you’d prefer not to hear me blather on with my opinions, read no further. I’ll write more about baseball soon enough.

If you choose to comment on this article, I will be much more authoritarian. Only comments that are mature and well-reasoned will be allowed. I don’t mind if you disagree with me, just do so rationally. I understand that 9/11 is a sensitive subject, but we can all be objective about it.

ESPN has recently seemed like a Republican mouthpiece (remember, ESPN is owned by Disney, which also owns ABC, and you remember when they aired this completely biased miniseries on 9/11?). Earlier this week on SportsCenter, they ran a piece that praised John McCain and detailed his NASCAR fandom in glowing terms. Just a coincidence that McCain is running for President and they wanted to air a piece about him? They canceled a Barack Obama podcast interview with Bill Simmons back in April.

This morning, I begrudgingly started my day with some Mike and Mike at around 8:45 to find them running a 9/11 tribute and, if I recall correctly, a clip of Jack Buck on the day baseball returned following the terrorist attacks — very moving. If it was simply a tribute to the people who lost their lives on that day, I have no problem with that, but I’m taking ESPN’s behavior and their connections into account and concluding that there’s an agenda behind it.

Let’s be honest: the only reason any media outlet is running a 9/11 tribute is for the ratings and the mostly positive feedback they will receive (and, in the end, money). There’s a reason why none of the channels aired them at 4 in the morning: because no one’s watching. It’s all about the ratings, and it’s all about money. ESPN is predatory when it comes to sappy tributes, as they use the sad stories of dead or disabled athletes for their Sunday Conversations or one of their similar bits like My Wish. I’m not saying that the people they cover don’t benefit from it, it’s just that the #1 motivation behind these pieces is money, not compassion. If My Wish didn’t make ESPN money, they wouldn’t do it. Same thing goes for their 9/11 tribute — the motivation isn’t compassion.

Overall, I’m tired of the 9/11 tributes. They generally miss the point and end up serving as right-wing propaganda. There are still a lot people out there who can’t separate 9/11 from the fighting in the Middle East. Maybe I’m wrong (doubtful, as about half the country currently supports the war-mongering McCain). From my experience, though, it seems like the 9/11 tributes just reinforce the generalization of people in the Middle East, something like this:

Those brown people who live in sand attacked us! Our presence in Iraq is justified.

Keep in mind that’s the start of a strawman argument and a generalization, but that’s generally the way I think a good portion of Americans responded and still respond to 9/11. There are still a lot of people who don’t know that the majority of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia (but they have connections with the U.S. government, so no one wags nary a finger at them), or that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 (even W. eventually admitted as much).

September 11 should not be a day to simply reflect back on the same day in 2001 and give a day of reprieve from doling out criticism. How about an honest look back?

  • The Bush administration was warned by Osama bin Laden about the U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia and the open U.S. support for Israel. [L.A. Times]
  • The Bush administration ignored many warnings about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in the months preceding 9/11. [New York Times]
  • After being told that his country was under attack, Bush literally did nothing. [YouTube]
  • Bush linked 9/11 and Saddam Hussein to justify a venture into Iraq while simultaneously fighting a war in Afghanistan. [Christian Science Monitor]
  • On September 13, 2001, President Bush said, “The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him.” To this day, they have not found him. In 2002, they had a great opportunity and failed, and since then, have gradually but noticeably decreased efforts in the search. The venture into Iraq had a lot to do with this. In fact, it was likely used to distract Americans from the administration’s failure to capture Osama bin Laden.
  • On May 1, 2003, President Bush stood in front of a sign on the USS Abraham Lincoln that read, “Mission Accomplished,” referring to the War in Iraq. [Wikipedia]
  • Iraqis have never supported the American presence in their country. [USA Today (2004), Washington Post (2006)]. In fact, the polls show an overbearingly negative Iraqi view on everything as it pertains to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. For instance, half of Iraqis approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces. [World Public Opinion]

September 11 is a day for remembering the innocent people who lost their lives in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. It is not a day for passivity; it is not a day for accepting government sound bites and catchphrases; it is not a day for having your eyes glaze over at the numerous amounts of propaganda that will air today. It is not a day to say, “Gee, thanks, government, for keeping me safe from the sand people!”

Those who lost their lives on this day seven years ago aren’t around anymore directly because of the Bush administration’s failed policies starting from day one. 9/11 was the Bush administration’s fault and they should not be reaping the benefits of Americans getting misty-eyed when shown images of the collapsing twin towers and the thought of friends and family lost that day.

And to tie into my opener, ESPN, with their obvious right-wing bias, has no business doing the government’s bidding. Perhaps they were forced to do so by their parent company Disney, who knows? There will be a lot of tongue-biting on camera today, and it’s a shame because those that are honest get punished for it.

I’m not the most gifted writer (or speaker, for that matter), so I’d like to point you to Keith Olbermann, who eloquently and clearly says what I’ve been struggling to say. Click here to watch the video at Crooks and Liars. I urge you to watch it.