Heretics, Us: A Novel of Outrage by Jeff Musall

If there’s one thing that can be said about America, it’s that it doesn’t lack for most things. We seem to be in great supply of everything. From 150 television channels (yet there still seems to be nothing on) to at least a dozen different so-called “energy drinks” to a seemingly bottomless supply of talentless individuals willing to humiliate either themselves or others on national television, if a America were a company-and sometimes I think it is-we would be in the position of having to lower prices due to over inventory. Yes, America is well stocked.

Except for two things. One, we obviously don’t have nearly enough troops to handle all of Mr. Bush’s imperialist war plans. But we wouldn’t even need that if America had more of the one thing it’s really lacking today: outrage. Has any other country since Nazi Germany ever been as apathetic to the insanity taking place around it as America is today. The great irony of the technological age is that despite the fact that Marshall McLuhan’s global village is closer than ever to becoming a reality, despite the fact that people all across the world are interconnected with each other via television, the internet, cell phones and everything else that serves to bind usâÂ?¦humans are more insulated from the world around them than ever. Whether it’s addictive hours of video games, or internet sites, or those irritating little earbuds connected to MP3 players, humans-and especially Americans-are detached from what’s going on beneath their noses like never before. One can only imagine how envious the perpetrators of the Vietnam War must be when they see how easy it is to distract Americans from the genocidal foreign policies of the leaders of this countryâÂ?¦and their puppets in the White House and Congress.

My God, the biggies who made policy DuPont and Exxon during the Vietnam War and who are still today must wish they could go back in time and know what they know now. Hell, we wouldn’t even have to have this Iraq war, we would still be fighting in Vietnam because nobody would have noticed it was lasting forty years. Forty years from now, we’ll probably still have active troops in Iraq. Unless, of course, the democratically elected theocracy there boots us out like they did with the Shah of Iran. For the ills that the hippie generation unleashed on America-and goodness knows they unleashed some big time demons-at least today’s hippies can look back and say they cared more about saving real lives in Vietnam than saving the life of some virtual elf in an MMORPG. Of course, those same hippies bear much of the responsibility for electing Bush in the first place.

Where is the outrage in America? Pres. Bush is a far worse President than either LBJ or Richard Nixon, yet both those guys essentially lost the White House because of the outrage they unleashed. Nixon faced impeachment for much, much, much less overstepping of Constitutional rights than Bush. And still no outrage.

Which is why it’s so refreshing to read a novel like Jeff Musall’s Heretics, Us. Jeff Musall is a consistent contributor here at Associated Content and has expressed his outrage in many well-reasoned editorials. But in his novel he take a fictional approach. Well, semi-fictional, maybe. The Hunchback of Nostradamus supposedly warned us in his writings about the rise of Hitler despite misspelling it as Hister. Musall may well be the next Nostradamus. Published earlier this year, before the US-backed Israeli assault against Hezbollah, Musall writes of a near-future in which Bush’s War on Terror has become a War for Civilization. (And don’t you know Bush is kicking himself for not thinking of that connotatively superior description himself.) The forgotten pursuit of Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan and the unnecessary invasion of Iraq have spread to include Syria, IranâÂ?¦and Lebanon. In case you only get your news from Fox, you might be interested to know that there is so much evidence that the Bush White House was hoping for the Israeli attacks against Hezbollah to spread into full scale war against Syria and Iran that even Bush’s own father has thrown up his hands in surrender at ever convincing his son not to listen anymore to those who have been giving him foreign policy. You know it’s a topsy-turvy world when the elder President Bush looks like a real statesman.

Heretic, Us is a work of outrage. It is an imperfect novel, a propagandist novel, a novel that is a little too pat. And yet none of those things undermine the fact that may be the most frightening novel since George Orwell’s 1984. In fact, I would go so far to say that Heretics, Us is more frightening. Because 1984 still seems like a nightmare that we would never allow to happen. The scary thing about Jeff Musall’s novel is not only would we allow it to happen, we ARE allowing it to happen.

The book kicks off with the quote: A lie told often enough becomes the truth. Pres. Bush recently said in a press conference that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 911 and that nobody in the White House ever suggested he did. This defensive statement serves up quite well just how wise Musall was to open his novel with the aforementioned quote. Why did Pres. Bush feel the need to say that nobody in the White House had ever suggested Saddam was behind 9/11? Because until recently a majority of Americans not only believed that Saddam was behind 9/11, but that it was part of the justification for invading Iraq. Wonder where all those Americans got that idea?

Lie number 1.

So now, in order cover his tracks-which unfortunately can’t be covered since there is so much evidence out of the mouths of the people behind the invasion of Iraq that can hang them-Bush has to start convincing people that he never tried to say Saddam had anything to do with Iraq; that 9/11 had nothing to do with the invasion of Iraq.

Lie number 2.

They will keep saying it and keep saying and, sure enough, a substantial number of people will actually believe it. They say that a sign of insanity is being able to believe two conflicting opinions at the same time. By that reasoning, anyone who believes both of Bush’s lies is insane. We already know he is, because I have no doubt in my mind that he truly believes the incredulous lies that spew forth from his prissy little mouth.

Back to Heretic, Us. The central conceit of the novel is one that most conservatives would dismiss as a conspiracy theory. But when your party controls all three branches of the government and the delivery of information through a media so frightened of looking liberal that it bends over backward to prove it isn’t-and never was anyway-what need is there for a secret conspiracy. What kills me about the Bush administration is the way they keep on making these secret plans to spy on everyone. Why? Every time one of these spying programs comes out, the polls show that Americans don’t care. They’d rather be protected than free. Why even bother working in secret when you’ve already convinced the majority that offering security is more important that protecting liberty? (Not to mention that you’ve actually somehow managed to convince them you are the ones who can provide that security despite the fact that it took less than nine months of your administration before the worst terrorist attack in this country took place.)

Conservatives would read Heretics, Us and throw up their hands in disgust. “Not realistic,” they would cry. “Not believable,” they would cry.

Try this on for size: Is it realistic that the very same guy behind the hijackings on 9/11 that tore down the World Trade Center, put a hole in the Pentagon and forever changed the world might never have had the ability to do that if the President of the United States had not been so committed to stopping that previous public enemy number of the US, the communist horde, that he provided arms and intelligence to the exact same “freedom fighters” that Osama was providing arms to? Pres. Reagan promised security to American citizens in the 1980s by aiding a group of ragtag Islamic soldiers that he publicly called “freedom fighters” in their fight against the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Do you know what that group of freedom fighters were called? The mujahadeen. Do you know what the mujahadeen became after Russia withdrew? The Taliban. The very same Afghan rulers that gave Osama Bin Laden a haven from which to conduct his jihad against America. So, in a way, I guess you could say to all those people who insist on giving Pres. Reagan credit for bringing down the Soviet Union that he also deserves the credit for helping to bring about the current state of Islamic terrorism.

But if I were to have written that scenario in 1984-long before the mujahadeen were featured as the heroes in Stallone’s Rambo III-it would have been called unrealistic and unbelievable. (No doubt many will still call it that.)

Read Heretics, Us by Jeff Musall. Don’t consider it a work of fiction. Consider it in the same terms that many people read the works of Nostradamus. As a terrifying glimpse into the future. You know, Penn Jillette of the Penn & Teller magic act, made an interesting observation. He said that if there was anything in the works of something like Nostradamus or the Bible Code that indicated the events of 9/11 were going to take place and anyone who read them stood by and did nothing that they should be sued and arrested and convicted. It would be tantamount to knowing a crime was going to take place and not even bothering to pick up the phone.

Anyone reading Jeff Musall’s Heretics, Us who doesn’t commit themselves to doing something-anything-to make sure it remains purely a work of speculative fiction also deserves to be sued and imprisoned. Because already, since he published it, much of what he predicted seems to be coming true.

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