The Calm of the Lambs
"Quit hitting yourself...
Quit hitting yourself...
Quit hitting yourself..."
Whatever became of Polyphemus, the invincible one-eyed giant who was going to gobble up Odysseus and his men until they blinded him with a sucker shot to the eye and slipped away? They never actually killed him did they? They just destroyed his sight and left him to rage and holler and slam into things. We assume the poor guy destroyed everything he could get his hands on before finally starving or falling off a cliff or something. This was a technique the Greeks used to prevail over monsters too large to fight: make them blind and leave them to dispatch their own bad selves.
Induced blindness has also been an incredibly effective
method by which third world guerrilla fighters (or people's armies)
are able to take on much bigger adversaries. Ho Chi Minh developed it
as a kind of military science, but Osama bin Laden and his ghostly
clones have taken it to the level of tai chi - using the enemy's
surplus strength to defeat his own purposes. Turning the enemy's
confusion and fear to inflict hellacious psychological and financial
costs on himself and his people. 9-11 was arguably the most efficient
use of 19 box knives in the annals of warfare, a trick worthy of
So here we are, four years later, sandbagged into our hideous little kingdom on the outskirts of Branson, Missouri, preparing to be ruled by corporate warlords with private armies of bald-headed goons, the Constitution trashed, the population abandoned to video snuff games and astonishing ignorance, the news media wearing black patches over both eyes, reporting things that don't exist. Uncle Sam is still staggering through the dark, swatting at WMDs and IEDs and terriss subway bombers and a zillion slithering plots to attack our buses and airplanes and schoolchildren with backpack bombs and cell phone detonators. Building a 125 mile concrete wall to keep thousands of swarthy Mexican look-alikes from swarming across our southern border with bits of plutonium from here and there, with Pakistani training fresh in their minds and evil intentions that even our dogs can't smell.
The actual terrorists are long gone. Got in their little boats and went home to Ithaca to watch the roaring, bleeding giant self destruct on their tvs.
Our madness has spread to England, where American culture is much admired. Gentle England, where bobbies on bicycles carry nothing more lethal than wooden batons, where crime is nearly unheard of and where guns are considered childish and unnecessary. Mirroring Tony Blair's admiration for Bush's wild west paradigm and assisted by a two year seminar with the Coalition of the Willing (getting in touch with Bertie, their inner beastie) the Brits are beginning to conform to the American social model, a cowboy culture that is the envy of the world.
And so, in the wake of London's transit bombings, in a country which emphatically denies al-Q'aeda's assertion that by now they must surely be crazy with fear, a gentleman was gunned down this morning by plainclothes policemen on a subway platform for wearing a large overcoat in the summertime.* The victim, who tried to run from his attackers and who was subsequently tackled and shot five times at point blank range with a semi-automatic pistol, was described by onlookers as "absolutely terrified." The plainclothes policemen who killed him were not described as terrified. Nor does Tony Blair describe himself or his countrymen as terrified or blind, as he prepares to lurch off into Pakistan to shut down all the madrassa schools that he has come to believe are the source of his ruffled calm.
In the meantime the terror recruits, a no-count handful of adolescent jihadi pipsqueaks, have excused themselves to enjoy the perks of their martyrdoms, leaving the loyal subjects of the United Kingdom to be savaged by their own security teams and strangled by their own revised laws, laws under which they and their kids will hereafter live as citizens redefined by significantly diminished parameters of human dignity.
* A note from the future:
8/19/05 ~ The gentleman in question was a Brazilian electrician named Jean Charles de Menezes, whose mistake was living in a flat near one of the suspected terrorist bombers, and having darkish Latino skin. Today it has come to light that he was neither wearing a bulky jacket, nor was he leaping turnstiles or running from the police. He was seated on the subway, getting ready to read his newspaper, when he was rushed, pinioned and blasted into oblivion by said police, who had been given official permission to kill the guy. He was in a seated position when he was shot, not five but seven times, in the head. Upwards of twelve police and civilian witnesses at the scene were perfectly able to correct the story as reported by the media, but declined to do so until the (very gruesome) photos and internal reports were leaked today, a full month after the fact. The press had not bothered to confirm any of it, nor did the public demand such confirmation.
The Brits are considerably more civilized than we are. The brutality of which they are capable still does not compare with ours, and consequently the willingness of their sheltered populace to believe ill of their constabulary lags behind even our own. Today they have learned that their officials are willing to lie to them, and to allow them to believe things that are clearly lies. What they will learn in the coming weeks is that the reason such lies are not quickly corrected is that prosecuting police murders is an ugly and pointless process. Might most certainly makes right, even in Jeffersonian democracies. We Americans have known this for many years. The guys with the guns are not accountable. You call the policeman "sir." If he is accused of beating some poor black drunk half to death, you acquit him. You do not call into question the absurd myth that those of us who are licensed toi kill are in fact restrained by fairness or the rule of law. You keep your eyes averted from things your weren't supposed to see, and you affirm the pretense that the law of the jungle has been supplanted by something better, something higher.
The tendency, to return to the more important point, for our governing entities to routinely opt for deliberate coverups in situations like this (and our own monstrous and cynical WMD debacle) begins to be more alarming than the deceptions themselves. These London cops and their handlers clearly sat down and discussed what to do about this. They consciously chose to affirm a really big lie, knowing that in all likelihood the truth would come out and compound the damage of ineptness with that of malicious fraud. One imagines a conference call between any number of very senior players and some damage control consultant of the Karl Rove School about how to handle the embarrassing fallout of having executed a peaceful citizen without any cause, followed by serving up a peremptory heap of crap to the news media. One imagines the words of Machiavellian wisdom imparted by said spinmeister:
"A stale lie is less damaging than a fresh lie," Karl might have said. "Let it ride. If it comes out a month or a year down the road that you pulled a fastie on them, you can always say yeah, maybe mistakes were made but it's all in the past and the constructive thing to do now is to move on from here."