Sunday, 22 July 2012
Up is Down
So let me see if I am getting this straight (help out if I miss any key details): We are under permanent assault from the threat of Terrorism, which requires us to abandon squeamish concerns for due process, habeas corpus, trial by court of law etc.; we need to spy on everyone’s e-mails and cellphone texts, trillions of which must be captured, stored and analyzed in massive government-run databases that we can’t know too much about because it’s necessarily secret and cannot object to because only people who don’t really care about terrorism and protecting Americans’ lives would complain; suspect peoples like Muslims and Pakistanis must be surveilled and infiltrated so that anyone suggesting unhappiness with U.S. foreign policy is fair game for an agent provocateur to try to peddle him wild terror plots and then turn him in for not running to the FBI first; our airports must be run by hordes of security agents looking down our shirts and up our briefcases as we trudge shoelessly and obediently through metal detectors; suspected foreign enemies must be ‘rendered’ (like bacon fat) to secret CIA prisons; torture is no longer officially practiced, but since no one was punished for performing it, and the CIA destroyed the tapes with the evidence, must be available at any time (when needed!) without fear of consequences; the president must be permitted to authorize himself to place selected individuals, including U.S. citizens, on a ‘kill list’ and dispatch drones to assassinate them along with any passers-by and follow-up drones to finish off the mourners at their funerals.
Right, understood, all necessary and required to KEEP US SAFE. But wait—why is it therefore NOT A PROBLEM that random individuals can purchase military assault weapons and parade through public spaces with them? Despite the relentless insistence that nothing (like a silly old Constitution) and no one must stand in the way of our nation’s Security, vast stores of insanely dangerous weaponry must remain freely available to one and all? Orwell left one slogan out: Danger is Security.
It’s just wonderful to hear the manifestations of this national schizophrenia, such as the earnest New Jersey cops interviewed here talking about how they are going to patrol cinemas throughout suburbia to ‘make absolutely sure’ nothing like the Denver massacre occurs again. Earth to Vinnie: dear fellow, there is NO SUCH THING as ‘absolutely sure’ in this life and certainly not in a country where Glock pistols are more popular than Tootsie rolls.
No, I take it back: East Germany years ago and perhaps Saudi Arabia today might be pretty capable of making ‘absolutely sure’ that no cinema massacres happen. They achieved this impressive level of security by establishing a complete police state, employing armies of informers, recording everything said or thought by their citizens, ruining dissidents and waging permanent psychological warfare against everyone thereby successfully crushing all independent thought. Yes! Let’s eliminate crime! Short of that, we might just have to accept that terrible things will occur from time to time and try to lessen their impact—like, for example, by not permitting a random kid to buy a 50-round-per-minute drum magazine for an AR-15 assault rifle. Just sayin’.
On a separate note, a good bit of the early TV coverage of this nightmare plumbed the depths of moral bankruptcy. The Diane Sawyer special report I saw the next day featured thriller-movie music and ghoulish exploitation of the events by shameless, over-emoting drama queens. If there were ever a time for a dignified recounting of the known facts by restrained on-air personnel, this was certainly it. But no, 9/11 provided the template for How to Cover tragedies affecting Americans, and it includes these elements: hysterical repetitions of what we are commanded to feel; thorough soap-opera-style milking of the emotions of the bereaved; frequent invocations of god; inspirational shots of ‘people coming together’; careful avoidance of any possible policy implications of the event, unless specifically raised by the two-party duopoly as part of the next horse race. Disgusting.
Posted by Tim Frasca at 17:11