Wednesday June 19, 2013
Obama, Osama, 911 and Jap Oranges...
Bill Annett Salem-News.com
Alan Dershowitz, Brian Mandell and Noam Chomsky
Photo courtesy: news.harvard.edu
(DAYTONA BEACH, FL) - This has been the decade of the great divide. Since September 11, 2001, two diametrically opposite opinions have been expressed to the world incessantly, both concerning a simple set of unassailable facts:
On that date eleven and a half years ago, two commercial airliners struck the World Trade Center's twin office towers in lower Manhattan, one other commercial airliner flew into the Pentagon Building in Washington, D.C. and a fourth crashed into a rural area in Pennsylvania. I don't think any sane person anywhere in the world has argued with that objective recitation of facts. But beyond that central basic event or events, two distinctly divergent and extreme narratives have been promulgated, and anyone, of course, should be free to place him/herself on the spectrum of opinion in between, as to what really happened and why.
The issue, while debatable, is indeed of the utmost importance, because in the interim hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost, each just as important as last year's newsworthy death of Osama bin Laden. At least a trillion dollars has been spent, war has devastated at least three Middle Eastern countries, and millions of people uninvolved directly but informed, lectured and the subject of international broadcast have become emotionally altered, to the point of writing letters to editors or boring each other on Facebook, at the water cooler or in global discourse. Those two narratives, stated in the extreme, are as follows:
I herewith not only welcome one and all to their chosen place on the spectrum, but I hasten to dub in your editor's take, greatly biased and opinionated as usual, which I choose to name and style “The Jap Orange Compromise.”
In order to present the two opposing narratives fairly, let me introduce two distinguished protagonists, about as opposite to each other as one can imagine. They are the noted attorney, Alan Dershowitz, and the even more noted distinguished professor, author and professional critic of everything to the left of the Potomac, Noam Chomsky. They appear in these pages not with their permission but by way of their own printed testimony.
Like most attorneys, Mr. Dershowitz begins in left field, but gets around to 9/11. “Noam Chomsky,” according to Dershowitz, “has shown his true colors in his recently published 'reaction' to the targeted killing of Osama bin Laden. He apparently thinks Osama bin Laden is the innocent victim of a cold-blooded murder that is worse than if George W. Bush were to be assassinated in his 'compound.'”
Indeed he has. “Shown his true colors,” that is. In a magazine called Guernica ("My Reaction to Osama bin Laden’s Death,") Chomsky wrote that it - bin Laden's guilt - is about as credible as Chomsky’s “confession that I won the Boston Marathon.”
“Nor does he believe,” (Dershowitz again) “the evidence gathered by the 9/11 Commission, the grand jury that indicted bin Laden, the numerous confessions and claims of responsibility by al-Qaida operatives, and the video showing those who flew the planes in the presence of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.”
Ex-Professor Chomsky believes there is absolutely no “evidence” that bin Laden played any role in 9/11. He also accuses President Obama of “simply lying when he said, in his White House statement, that ‘we quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al-Qaida.’” In fact, to avoid any appearance of partisanship and to show that he is an equal-opportunity despiser of all American presidents, Chomsky asserts that “uncontroversially” President Bush’s “crimes vastly exceed bin Laden’s.”
“If,” Dershowitz responds, “bin Laden and al-Qaida were not responsible for 9/11, who was? The United States? The Zionists? Maybe it never happened at all, as some hard left 'intellectuals' have claimed. After all, Chomsky is agnostic with regard to the Nazi Holocaust and believes that Holocaust denial is not anti-Semitic.”
Chomsky, Dershowitz adds, “is himself guilty of genocide-denial, having assured his readers (at the height of the Cambodian genocide) that the Khmer Rouge — which he admired — was being falsely accused of mass murder.”
Well, it may be difficult for your humble editor – or the faithful readers - to choose between the opinions of – on the one hand, (let's say the right hand) a member of the team quarterbacked by the late great Johnny Cochrane which helped O.J. Simpson to walk, with those bloody gloves that didn't fit – and, au contraire, the aging emeritus professor at M.I.T. who has written a dozen or more books knocking everything from the intergenerational George Bushes to the holocaust. But I'll dish in, as editors are wont to do. This editor particularly won't wont.
I entertain the Jap Orange Compromise concerning 9/11. Which requires first of all that I digress, in order to explain what I'm talking about. I am a firm believer in the fact that, just as almost a century of the Windsor dynasty has contributed to the English-speaking world nothing more than (a) Craig Ferguson's pastiche of “Prince Chawles and the Rather Late Show,” and (b) the Windsor Knot, similarly the sole lasting contribution of the Japanese culture has been (a) haiku poetry and (b) the Jap orange. The Emperor not withstanding. Or even notwithsitting.
First, if you're not aware, haiku is really cool, poetry-wise. Such as:
When I was a boy, Christmas WAS Jap oranges, or, as we called them, “Ja-pornges.” They came in a funny little wooden box which, during the Depression, having been grown, picked, boxed and shipped across the Pacific by slow freighter, thence transported by the even slower CPR to my home town in rural Alberta, sold for about a buck and a quarter, the box.
Japornges were bloody marvelous. By default, we, my brothers and I, chewed on them every Christmas morning while we were forced to wait interminably for King George to deliver his Yule-time radio message to the colonies, (interminably, because George had a speech impediment) before we were allowed to attack the tannenbaum.
What does the orange industry offer today? Miserable knock-offs, such as California oranges full of seeds, and Spanish tangerines that taste like blotting paper because, I suppose, the rain in Spain falls mainly everywhere but on the plain.
The Japornge, by contrast, is the only small orange worthy of Christmas celebration. In fact, it's the only original and valid contribution to the world achieved by that nation since Mitsubishi produced the elegant bomber accompanied by Zero escort on the historic visit to Oahu. The rest of Japanese culture is slavish imitation by the best copy-cats and worst innovators on Planet Earth.
So it's a bit of a stretch as an analogy, but the truth about 9/11, like the Japornge, is not diminished by the opinionated versions of what happened. The fact is simply that a group of morons chose to kill 3,000 innocent people. It matters little whether they were nutcases paranoid over the arrogant nonsense of America's foreign policy, or whether they were dolts in the CIA, the Pentagon or at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, who were eager to foment an excuse for seizing Iraqi oil.
Either raison d'etre for the slaughter of thousands at Ground Zero or the many more thousands saddened by their death, is unimportant to those who remain dead, or to those left to mourn.
What's that got to do with the Japornge? Nothing, really. Or perhaps two vague reasons: (1) the Japornge rules supreme in spite of its imitators in California or Spain, just as (2) the central fact of 9/11 is more important than its two competing explanations.
And also, of course, there is the final humiliation – the fact that while Cheney and Bush were busy spending the lives of 5,000 G.I.'s and a trillion dollars or so in a civil war they didn't understand – and in the wrong country from which Al Qaeda operated – Halliburton (Cheney's corporate alma mater) dropped the ball and lost out to the nation that developed the lowly Japornge, which deked in and nailed all the Iraqi oil.
Bill Annett grew up a writing brat; his father, Ross Annett, at a time when Scott Fitzgerald and P.G. Wodehouse were regular contributors, wrote the longest series of short stories in the Saturday Evening Post's history, with the sole exception of the unsinkable Tugboat Annie.
At 18, Bill's first short story was included in the anthology “Canadian Short Stories.” Alarmed, his father enrolled Bill in law school in Manitoba to ensure his going straight. For a time, it worked, although Bill did an arabesque into an English major, followed, logically, by corporation finance, investment banking and business administration at NYU and the Wharton School. He added G.I. education in the Army's CID at Fort Dix, New Jersey during the Korean altercation.
He also contributed to The American Banker and Venture in New York, INC. in Boston, the International Mining Journal in London, Hong Kong Business, Financial Times and Financial Post in Toronto.
Bill has written six books, including a page-turner on mutual funds, a send-up on the securities industry, three corporate histories and a novel, the latter no doubt inspired by his current occupation in Daytona Beach as a law-abiding beach comber.
You can write to Bill Annett at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org