7/9/05

No News
It's been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone. Several dozen police recruits were fragged by suicide bombers in various parts of Iraq, along with a number of Shiite passers-by who have not yet learned, like we here in the States, to keep their distance from the police. The bodies of some Sunnis were found on various roadsides, in retaliation, one supposes, for the dead Shias. An army patrol in Afghanistan was wiped out by the Taliban fighters we defeated two years ago, and the troop helicopter we sent to rescue them was likewise shot down by a rocket, killing all 17 on board. In Baghdad another up-armored humvee was annihilated by another up-armor-piercing IED, sending its contents to soldier heaven via the McNeil News Hour, and the Egyptian ambassador was beheaded. And in London a group of Iraq-trained, al Qa’eda-related people set off cell phone detonated suitcase bombs in four separate mass transit locations during rush hour, killing fifty citizens, not counting those whose smithereens have not yet been identified.

At the G-8 Summit in Scotland, our President again refused to increase poverty relief for Africa, and again blocked global efforts to reduce greenhouse gases to save our children (yours, actually) from getting roasted by killer sunshine. He is preparing to fill two Supreme Court vacancies with people like John (Stress Positions) Gonzales, effectively nailing shut the coffin on checks and balances and delivering the coup de grace to free elections and human rights.

Given the degree of predictability of these events, it is no wonder that the bloggers, into whose hands has passed the task of speaking truth to power, have begun to join the mainstream media in slumberland. The boilerplate was probably written months ago and dropped into the daily reportage with a single keystroke. The weary outrage from the rest of us, suffocating in the bovine press of the most gullible populace on the face of the earth, looking out over an inexhaustible sea of bullshit, listening for the billionth time to Bush's childish litany of phony convictions, knowing that we must once again speak up against his detestable agenda, are also nodding off. As one woman said, "Why write more?"

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I suppose the terrorists were wasting their time bombing the London transit system. The Brits thrive on adversity. It gives them the opportunity to rally defiant in the best Churchillian tradition.

"We shall not be deterred. We shall not be defeated. We shall fight them. In the air we shall fight them. On the land and on the sea we shall fight them. In our subways and buses we shall fight them. At our soccer matches and in our back yards and under our beds and deep in the guilt-ridden recesses of our minds we shall fight them..."

Societies which choose their leaders are no longer sheltered by innocence in today's world. It is the price of freedom. We are told that if you don't vote you can't complain. Likewise, when we vote to let the drunk guy drive, we can't complain when he steers into the first lamppost..

Listen to this. If George Bush speaks for us, then we are both the beneficiaries of his good judgement (if any should occur) and the legitimate targets of his enemies. It is we who will be bruised by the fights he picks, and if he's our guy, then we can't say that there is anything wrong with that. We are a free corporate body. We are all soldiers, all cannon fodder.

The categorical imperative is over 200 years old, and says that it is always best for us to act in such a way that we would will our act to become universal law. The Golden Rule, the basic principle of fairness which even you dumbasses learned in kiddiegarden, says that if you had any brains you would do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.

So it is a little ludicrous that the authors of Hiroshima and the embargo on food and medicine to Iraq are now morally indignant about the targeting of civilians in subways. Everybody targets civilians. From Ghengis Khan to Harry Truman to Bill Clinton. Everybody always has.

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From my Rubbermaid lawn chair here in the peanut gallery I note that, while the overriding, unmistakable lesson of the week is that what goes around comes around, the thought doesn't seem to be making it into the control room. The shadowy bad guys who are giving us all this grief have still not been named, except to say they are freedom-hatin' evildoers who appear to be everywhere.

We seem content to continue calling them "the terrorists" (except for Bush who calls them "the Terriss," imagining perhaps that there is just the one.) Our brave leaders claim not to be afraid of the terrorists, a term meaning: the bad people who make us afraid, whereas the terrorists themselves and their friends and colleagues call themselves soldiers and nationalists and jihadists and martyrs. (The names of their various brigades and action committees, in fact, identify very clearly their various purposes. If these are not comprehensible to us it is because they tend to be esoteric and theological in character, and because we dislike being unable even to remember things we have done to them that have caused them to dedicate their lives to our destruction, and because we are not interested in going into any of that.) It is as though we don't want to specify them further, lest we are forced to telephone them and ask what is eating them. Lest the big creepy murky bogeyman BushCo. has conjured up be replaced by human beings with points of view. With viable grievances. Lest we be forced to concede that for millions of ordinary people in vast tracts of the world it is we who are the Terriss and their own brave sons and daughters who are defending their way of life.

Buy hey, there is no danger of a conciliatory backlash. We're committed (and well we should be.) The vocabulary of confrontation and fear has insinuated itself into common parlance . Reason requires language, and Karl Rove (our own bogeyman) has reinvented our speech to where only his own comic book truth can be told. He has us arguing over the best way to fight the War on Terror, instead of noticing that the War on Terror is itself somebody's pernicious goddamn invention. Beyond the fact that guys like Rove and Zarqawi are willing to step up to the plate and define our agendas, is the fact that they are themselves our creations. Like Larry, Moe and Curley.

Since the elections I've continued to re-think my liberal positions, and I have to admit that I can't suggest anything better than this for samsaric television entertainment. I put my ear to the chatter of the world. I hear bragging generals and mourning widows and the shrieks of guys getting their heads sawed off. I hear weeping and gnashing of teeth. I hear disgust and hatred, fear and loathing, pissing and moaning. But nowhere do I hear anybody say they are not having a great time. It's Shiva's hootenanny. George Bush might be the most dumbassed president in our history, but as activities director of the danse macabre, by golly, he's a fun guy.

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