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10 Years Into 9/11: A Look At America’s Internal Us vs. Them Nationalism



Nationalism isn’t just about Us vs. Them, it’s reliant on the marginalized and the “deviant.” They help us define who “we” are, and it comes at a high cost: justice. Ten years into 9/11, Joanne Kalogeras explains, from London.

I was at home in San Francisco on 9/11/01. I could go on about what I saw and how I felt after my sister’s phone call roused me from bed and drove me to the television set, but you’ve heard it all before, a thousand times. Shock. Fear. Confusion. Then, later that evening at a Castro Street bar, trying to make sense of it, Earthquake Love (what Californians call the strong social bond many feel towards each other in the face of an emergency or disaster).

The following week, I thought about odd things to be grateful for. My father had passed away six months earlier, and I still don’t like to think of how he would’ve taken those events. The person videotaping George Bush’s deer-in-headlights reactions upon hearing the news from his aides. The Onion rising to the occasion magnificently: “Rest of Country Temporarily Feels Deep Affection for New York”.

Which, by the way, is just how I like my patriotism, if I must have it at all: with humorous affection and a resistance to taking it too seriously. The stomach-churning nationalism the country has descended into since 9/11 is not simply senseless and mean-spirited. It is antithetical to what we say America stands for. Yes, in the past we’ve often been staggeringly hypocritical that way, but 2001 inspired us to a new level. And of course it would, because those two planes hit us where we live: at one of the real and metaphorical centers of our free market/individualism conception of our nationhood.

Today, 9/11 brings two things to my mind: justice and nationalism, and how closely they are related.

Nationalism can be hard to pin down. In Encountering Nationalism, Jyoti Puri describes it as the “relatively recent beliefs and practices aimed at creating unified but unique communities within a sovereign territory… Sameness and difference are the foundations upon which nationalism rests…” Individuals are “similar and equal,” but as a people, distinct from those of other nations. Puri asserts that it’s also a form of power and an expression of power: it is unifying, and inspiring enough that people give up their lives for it. It’s used to unite people against a common enemy, and can also be used to persuade people that foreign (and national) actions are just.


Nationalism isn’t just about Us versus Them, where “they” are outside our borders. It’s very much reliant on the marginalized and the “deviant” within our borders. They help us define who “we” are, in order to face those who are not us. The lines are often murky, and the goalposts are always moving. But the dependence is very real, and it comes at a high cost. That cost is justice.



So far, there are probably no real surprises in Puri’s description. However, she points out that nationalism’s chief characteristic is internal unity, and that it is simply a myth. We seem to recognize and respect the “reality of differences” (her words), especially in the multicultural U.S.—we pride ourselves in that. But when nationalism comes into play, we are all about Us versus Them, and internal differences are swept under the rug. One might look upon that as a positive, unifying force despite differences, but in actuality those differences are ignored or serve as markers to exclude. Internally, this is what has happened since 9/11.

The months and years following 9/11 saw our civil liberties curtailed; Guantanamo Bay turned into an offshore detainment and interrogation center outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law; the rise of virulent Islamophobia; the sanctioned use of torture by the U.S. government; and two wars that have not effectively been ended yet, both being motivational sources of our nationalism (and serving as foreign grounds on which we wage our internal moral wars). Seemingly unrelated, we have seen the drastic decline of abortion rights and accessibility, a rise in the profitability of insurance companies that are covering less, the privatization of almost all new prisons and a corresponding growth of incarcerations (America’s population is 5% of the world’s, yet we have 25% of its prisoners), as well as a full-force attack on collective bargaining rights for workers.

What do those two seemingly unrelated groups of changes have in common, and what do they have to do with nationalism? In the attempt to shore up feelings of patriotism, to gather strength for the fight ahead, we want to define who we are, and tell the world we’re proud to be citizens of this nation. But the endeavor to define who “we” are, who gets to be included in the nationalist discourse, always involves identifying who isn’t part of that discourse, who gets excluded. Let’s consider a few things.

Immediately after the attacks, anything but blinding loyalty was labeled unpatriotic. If you criticized any part of U.S. policy, you hated the U.S. We saw the return of “America, love it or leave it”. Certain kinds of differences aroused illogical and knee-jerk suspicions. You could be a Mayflower WASP who converted to Islam last year, and your loyalty to America was suspect. Got an Arabic-sounding name (or Metallica lead vocalist James Hetfield’s “Taliban-like beard“)? Be prepared for grief. Existing problems such as racism, xenophobia, sexism, and homophobia mean that people got treated differently, regardless of citizenship. Puri calls these the “internal frontiers of nationalism”, because they belie the myth of internal unity.

It hasn’t been a rosy decade. In the 10 years since the 9/11 attacks, we have made some important strides in gay rights, yet extreme homophobes have found audiences in the halls of representative government (see: Sally Kern), and in the governments of foreign countries (Uganda).

The middle and working classes have suffered significantly. Are you poor? Unemployed? No matter there are five people who need jobs for every one available, it’s still your own damn fault, because you live in the country of personal responsibility, and you’re lucky you do. Don’t rely on unions to help you get a fair paycheck, though. If you’re not supportive of corporate America, you’re not supportive of America. Corporations are people, too, according to Mitt Romney. You don’t need unions, look at the rest of the world—in plenty of places, corporations are free to pay as little as they want, in whatever conditions they decide for their workers. If you’re really a good citizen, you can afford health insurance. If you can’t, well, surely your local church can help you out. (You do go to church, don’t you?) We’re not a welfare state, not a nanny state. Our citizens don’t need social safety nets. The U.S. is all about people helping each other, and not expecting the Government to give you handouts. (After all, if you need them, you don’t deserve them.) If you lead a clean and ethical life, the American Dream will see you through.

Except that it hasn’t. Trying to get health care for the underinsured, and for the 44 million American who have none at all, has been a bloody battle. Union membership corresponds directly with the health of middle class income, yet so many Republican politicians are bent on destroying them. Us/Them has intensified within the nation. Pundits from nearly all sides have fretted over the increasing polarization of the country.

We criticize other “less civilized” countries for human rights violations, but refuse to turn our gaze inward. I reside in the UK at the moment, and I can tell you that people from a host of different countries, many far worse off that the U.S., think we’re absolutely barbaric for not taking care of our own. (I’d throw in “for not abolishing capital punishment,” but that’s for a longer discussion.) If I were a cynic, I’d say that it’s all about kickbacks and campaign money. But I think the problem goes deeper than that.

Nationalism isn’t just about Us versus Them, where “they” are outside our borders. It’s very much reliant on the marginalized and the “deviant” within our borders. They help us define who “we” are, in order to face those who are not us. The lines are often murky, and the goalposts are always moving. But the dependence is very real, and it comes at a high cost. That cost is justice.

In her December 2001 article in The Nation entitled, “Can Patriotism be Compassionate?” (subscription) Martha Nussbaum relates an interesting incident. She was at the first White Sox game at Comisky Park played after 9/11. It was against the Yankees, and the opposing team received rousing, heartfelt (and highly unusual) cheers from the home team crowd. But as the game went on, the crowd started chanting “U-S-A!” in opposition to the Yankees. When the umpire made a bad call against the Sox, the crowd turned on him with the same chant.

It doesn’t seem particularly logical to shout out nationalisms during a sporting event between two American teams, unless one understands that nationalism is all about Us and Them, even within the nation, and about defeating Them. Nussbaum compares nationalism’s need for defeating and humiliating the “other” to parents who cross the line from supporting their own children to defeating and humiliating the children of others. It’s best for everyone if we refrain from crossing such lines. We don’t put ourselves at any advantage by doing so.

To Nussbaum (who is, to be clear, an often problematic and controversial thinker), our desire to bring the hijackers to justice is understandable and appropriate. The problem arises when Us/Them thinking loses its focus, and descends into “a general call for American supremacy, the humiliation of ‘the other’.” In her Winter 2001 article “Cosmopolitan Emotions?” at The New Humanist, Nussbaum wrote, “Compassion begins with the local. But if our moral natures and our emotional natures are to live in any sort of harmony we must find devices through which to extend our strong emotions to the world of human life as a whole.”

It’s about time we stop seeing the world through binaries: the world isn’t black and white. We’re much too interdependent to cling to Us/Them oppositions. Unless, that is, you subscribe to George Bush’s philosophy: “I don’t do nuance.” But the world is nuanced—it’s riddled with difference. We can either be friends with it and enjoy its riches, or we can be fearful of our shadows. Living with a respect for difference means acting on what we say our values and beliefs are. That people are created equal, and have the same moral worth. That everyone is deserving of what we think are principles of justice to live by: habeas corpus; trials within the bounds of the U.S. judicial system; an insistence that U.S. corporations adhere to the same working conditions in other countries as we do here. The list goes on. But we don’t have to look very far for the most basic principles:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We know the Founding Fathers pretty much meant “white men” in the Declaration of Independence, when Jefferson wrote “men.” But we have come to believe that those words mean “all people.” It’s time we start acting like it, and treating all people, inside and outside our borders, with similar respect.

Note: These are just a few thoughts on a very complex subject. I hadn’t expected to write a post on nationalism in this context–my original thought was to write about homonationalism, a common LGBT desire to be recognized for being as patriotic as heteronormative people. It’s a difficult subject, because while I staunchly support gays in the military and gay marriage, they are two of the most nationalistic, heteronormativity-perpetuating institutions we have. For the time being, I live with the contradiction. More thoughts to come on homonationalism.

About the image, via Wikipedia:

This political cartoon (attributed to Benjamin Franklin) originally appeared during the French and Indian War, but was recycled to encourage the American colonies to unite against British rule. From The Pennsylvania gazette, 9 May 1754. Abbreviations used: South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and New England. This is a somewhat odd division: New England was four colonies, and Delaware and Georgia are missing.

Joanne Kalogeras grew up outside of Chicago. She studied political philosophy at the University of Chicago before engaging in various and sundry other occupations, including a long stint in software development. San Francisco is her home, but she is currently residing in London where she is finishing her doctoral thesis on cosmopolitan theory at the London School of Economics’ Gender Institute.

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Watch: Expert Blasts Ginni Thomas for Being ‘In League’ With People Whose ‘Conspiracy Theories’ Contributed to J6 Riots



A court reform expert and progressive political activist is blasting both the U.S. Supreme Court and the spouse of one of its justices after a bombshell Washington Post article revealed how Ginni Thomas headed a secretive right-wing organization funded through a web of dark money with the goal of waging a culture war against the left.

Thomas, a Washington insider for decades, a well-known right-wing lobbyist and conspiracy theorist who had unprecedented access to the Trump White House and Oval Office, just happens to be the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Demand Justice founder Brian Fallon warned the Roberts Supreme Court has a reputation of “behaving unethically,” handing down “questionable” decisions, being “overtaken with scandal,” and “riddled with ethical conflicts and influence peddling.”

“Research that my group has done, we’ve noticed that part of what is animating this downward shift in opinion of the court is not just the highly unpopular, substantive rulings that are coming out of the court – and that’s saying something because they’re pretty unpopular,” Fallon, the former Clinton campaign national press secretary and former DOJ director of public affairs, told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, “but it’s also this idea that the court is behaving unethically, and that it’s become overtaken with scandal.”

READ MORE: ‘This Is About One Client – Donald Trump’: Eric Swalwell Destroys Jim Jordan and His ‘Insurrection LLC’ Committee (Video)

“There’s a feeling that not only is it reaching decisions that are questionable and unpopular, but it’s also reaching them through illicit means – that the majority that Republicans have now on the Supreme Court, that 6 to 3 majority, was gained through illicit means, and that the way it’s going about its business of hearing cases is just sort of riddled with ethical conflicts and influence peddling.”

Fallon warned that The Washington Post’s report on Ginni Thomas, “I think, would just further that narrative in the public’s mind.”

Wallace, pointing to The Post’s reporting, blasted Thomas’ “demented approach to ethics and transparency.”

“The piece about funding is so stunning to me, because it, you know, over here on Earth One, you would do the opposite, right?” Wallace posited. “If there were a nonprofit that involved the spouse of a Supreme Court justice, you would take the path that would bring about more disclosure, more transparency. Ginni Thomas does the opposite. She basically buries and hides the funding through a workaround that may or may not be legal, it certainly isn’t ethical or transparent.”

After criticizing Ginni Thomas for lobbying on issues Clarence Thomas could or does make decisions on, Fallon criticized her for the secretive organization she was heading, which she said was going after the left’s “cultural Marxism.”

Calling Thomas a “fringe figure,” Fallon observed, “the people that she brought together for this nonprofit that received $600,000 was a rogue’s gallery of people that do not belong in polite society in Washington, D.C.”

READ MORE: Watch: House Dem Mocks Republicans by Thanking Them for Taking Time Away From ‘Trump’s Memorial Service to David Koresh’

“You have the head of Project Veritas who’s been criminally prosecuted for the shady activities of that group,” Fallon alleged.

He also pointed to the right wing pro-Trump group Turning Point USA’s founder, Charlie Kirk.

“These are people that say outrageous things that help provoke conspiracy theories that contributed to the riots to try to overturn the government. And Ginni Thomas is in league with all of them.”

“This should be shocking and appalling to your average Member of Congress on both sides of the aisle, and we don’t see any movement from Republicans in the House to do anything in terms of an ethics bill, but it should be 100% uncontroversial at this point, to impose a mandatory code of ethics on the Supreme Court so that Clarence Thomas has to account for his wife’s activities more so than he does have to right now.”

Watch Fallon below or at this link:

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‘This Is About One Client – Donald Trump’: Eric Swalwell Destroys Jim Jordan and His ‘Insurrection LLC’ Committee (Video)



U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) unleashed massive criticism of Jim Jordan Wednesday afternoon, accusing the House Judiciary Committee Chairman of working solely for Donald Trump.

In his opening remarks of a Judiciary subcommittee hearing Swalwell, the Ranking Member, slammed Jordan for refusing to comply with a legal subpoena issued by the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, and criticized the subcommittee for holding a hearing – not on gun violence and mass shootings – but on what the California Democrat said was issues to help the ex-president.

Congressman Swalwell blasted Jordan and his “Committee to Obstruct Justice” on a wide range of issues, including obstructing justice, ordering a district attorney to commit a felony, and lying that Attorney General Merrick Garland labeled parents “domestic terrorists.”

“Well, here we are. Another partners’ meeting of Insurrection, LLC,” Swalwell said as he began his remarks. “That’s what this is. This is the newly formed largest law firm in Washington, D.C. Only has one client, maybe a second client that we’re going to learn about today, but that client is former president Donald Trump.”

“Their job,” he said, referring to Jordan’s Judiciary Committee, subcommittees, and his controversial Subcommittee of the Weaponization of the Federal Government, “is to litigate every one of [Trump’s] petty, petty, petty grievances.”

READ MORE: Watch: House Dem Mocks Republicans by Thanking Them for Taking Time Away From ‘Trump’s Memorial Service to David Koresh’

“It’s now 321 days since this subpoena was sent to Jim Jordan, that he did not comply with,” Swalwell said, pointing to a large blown-up copy of the subpoena, with the word “subpoena” enlarged exponentially.

“So it’s comical that we are here today, under Jim Jordan’s leadership, asking people why they don’t want to comply with subpoenas. The guy won’t comply with the one that was sent to him 321 days ago, witness to a crime, the crime that has led to more arrests than any investigation in America,” Swalwell observed, referring to the January 6 prosecutions.

“He’s a witness being asked to do his patriotic duty and respond to a subpoena 321 days later, refuses. Also, since the last hearing of this Committee to Obstruct Justice, Chairman Jordan is now in interfering in an independent criminal prosecution. There’s an investigation in Manhattan, also in Atlanta, also at the Department of Justice, into the former president and Jim Jordan has sent a letter to the independently elected District Attorney Alvin Bragg of Manhattan. He is asking Alvin Bragg to commit a felony.”

“Why is he asking Alvin Bragg to commit a felony? To help Donald Trump. Why is it a felony? Because if Alvin Bragg were to turn over what Jim Jordan is asking of him, Bragg would be violating New York law that says you cannot turn over grand jury proceedings, but that’s what they’re asking them to do. Again, the law doesn’t matter if your client is Donald Trump. ”

“The other day Jim Jordan was asked, ‘Well, what do you think of the former president who put out on Truth Social the other day, essentially an another call to action? A January 6-like post when the former president said this posting, Jim Jordan was presented with this post by the former president that calls for ‘death and destruction.’ And Mr. Jordan said that he would ‘need his classes.’ He was looking the other way. Jim Jordan looking the other way.”

READ MORE: Here’s How Five Republicans in Congress Are Responding to the Mass Shooting of 3 Children and 3 Adults in Nashville (Video)

“Well, we have blown up on the screen and we’ve put it right here and I’ll leave it for Jim Jordan. This is what Donald Trump said, Mr. Jordan,” Swalwell said, reading the e-president’s social media post:

“‘What kind of person can charge another person? In this case it former president of the United States who got more votes than any sitting president in history and leading candidate by far for the Republican Party nomination with the crime when it is known by all that? No crime has been committed and also known that potential death and destruction and such a false charge can be catastrophic for our country. Why and who would do such a thing? Only a degenerate psychopath that truly hates the USA?'”

“Again, I’m gonna leave this up here in probably 200 font. So Mr. Jordan doesn’t need his glasses to read it,” Swalwell added, referring to news that Jordan recently refused to comment on a Trump social media post claiming he first hadn’t read it, then when a reporter showed it to him, Jordan said he couldn’t read it because he didn’t have his glasses.

“The same individual who posted this also posted this photo. There you go, Donald. Trump. Real tough guy holding a baseball bat, next to a picture of that independent prosecutor that Jim Jordan wants to commit a felony, Alvin Bragg.”

“But you won’t hear from this Committee to Obstruct Justice, any condemnation of what Donald Trump posted. They can’t condemn him. They can’t. So in their silence, they condone it. And in these posts from Donald Trump, he incites more and more Americans to commit violence like a woman who was arrested yesterday, near Times Square with a knife seeking to carry out an act of violence in Donald Trump’s name.”

Swalwell blasted Chairman Jordan for repeatedly falsely claiming that Attorney General Merrick Garland had labeled parents speaking at school board meetings “domestic terrorists,” a lie made by many Republicans and conservatives.

READ MORE: New WSJ Poll Is Devastating for DeSantis and His ‘Anti-Woke’ Policies

“No parent has a right to threaten a school board volunteer. If a threat is brought to the FBI, it’s their duty to investigate those threats. We’ve also learned from all the document production from DOJ and the FBI in the Department of Education, that there is not one instance where the Department of Justice called any parent or a group of parents, ‘domestic terrorists,’ as has been claimed by Jim Jordan.”

And he criticized House Republicans, who, under Jim Jordan, had posted a tweet in support of Donald Trump, Elon Musk, and Kanye West.

“It’s also about a tweet that Jim Jordan posted back in the fall. ‘Kanye. Elon. Trump.’ Now after that tweet was posted, Kanye said he’s going to declare ‘DEF CON three on the Jews.’ The tweet stayed up for months. Everyone was like, ‘Hey guys, turns out your hero Kanye West hates the Jews. We all stand with Israel. Please take down the tweet.’ They didn’t take down the tweet. They kept the tweet up. Day after day. Jewish community they’re hurting, they say, ‘Please don’t take, please don’t put this tweet up.’ It stays up.”

He also blasted the GOP for holding hearings with witnesses they invited who are anti-police, despite their motto of “backing the blue.”

“Last week, we had a hearing where you could call anyone in America when you have the majority, the power of a subpoena. We had a hearing about the ATF. These guys brought a witness who had just recently tweeted, ‘fuck cops.’ Cops. That’s what this guy tweeted. Anyone on Earth could have come to that hearing and they brought someone that said, ‘fuck cops.’ Then one of their colleagues, this is what she’s selling on her social media: ‘defund the FBI.’ So we went from backing the blue to backing the coup.”

Swalwell concluded his remarks by slamming the committee for doing nothing to reduce gun violence in the wake of Monday’s school mass shooting.

“So we’ll waste our time today on this exercise on behalf of Donald Trump and perhaps Elon Musk, but everyone on their side is going to have to go home this weekend to their constituents and their constituents are going to ask them one question: Three little babies died this week in a school in Nashville. No other committee in Congress has jurisdiction to do something about that except this committee. So you’re on the Judiciary Committee. Three kids are dead. They’re gonna be buried this week. What did you do about it? Did you show up to the Judiciary Committee and fight for those kids? Or did you show up and fight for Donald Trump? They showed up to the first hearing after Nashville and they’re fighting for Donald Trump.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.



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Watch: House Dem Mocks Republicans by Thanking Them for Taking Time Away From ‘Trump’s Memorial Service to David Koresh’



U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) mocked the entire GOP Wednesday afternoon by sardonically thanking his Republican colleagues for taking time away from Donald Trump’s “memorial service to David Koresh,” referring to the ex-president’s rally Saturday in Waco, Texas during the 30th anniversary of that deadly siege.

“I want to thank the majority for finding the time to fit this hearing in between attending former President Trump’s memorial service to David Koresh, just last week, who was a real advocate for young girls in this country.”

Congressman Moskowitz was referring to the Branch Davidian religious cult leader who allegedly was a polygamist and child sex abuser. In 1993, the ATF’s attempt to serve a warrant on Koresh for “unlawful possession of fully automatic machine guns and destructive devices” turned into a 51-day siege of his Waco compound, which ended with the deaths of 86 people. Experts point to that event as fueling the rise of right-wing domestic terrorism, including by Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

READ MORE: Here’s How Five Republicans in Congress Are Responding to the Mass Shooting of 3 Children and 3 Adults in Nashville (Video)

Wednesday’s hearing of a House Oversight Committee subcommittee focused on Washington, D.C. also offered Rep. Moskowitz the opportunity to pose this question related to Monday’s Nashville school mass shooting: “Do you think parents, putting their young kids into pajamas at night, and tucking them into bed, do you think they’re worried about public urination in Washington, D.C. or do you think they’re worried about sending their kid to school and their kid not coming home?”

Moskowitz wasn’t done blasting Republicans for refusing to do anything to address mass shootings after Monday’s school massacre in Nashville.

“You know, speaking of crime, Republican on Republican crime, former President Donald Trump held a rally in Waco, Texas with his ‘Rasputin’ Ted Nugent. He said the number one national security threat to this great nation isn’t Russia or China or DC crime. But is an 81-year old slip and fall survivor in Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. I’m just wondering if we’re gonna find time in between, you know, some folks here attending the next rally to celebrating Timothy McVeigh, if we’re gonna find time to hold a hearing on mass murder in schools? When are we holding that hearing?”

Watch there videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Troubling Questions’: Experts Slam Ginni Thomas’ Group That Waged Cultural War Against the Left via Web of Dark Money Orgs

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