Monday, September 11, 2006

Aftershock

Aftershock? Yes, but we're not talking about the "rare and unusually strong" 6.0 earthquake in the Gulf of Mexico felt over parts of south Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana. That one, apparently, was not felt in Pensacola, anyway.

What we have in mind today is Simon Jenkins' incisive article in last week's Guardian on the "repetitious publicity" that "glorifies terrorism as a weapon of war." (HT to TRex at FDL):
Terrorism is 10% bang and 90% an echo effect composed of media hysteria, political overkill and kneejerk executive action, usually retribution against some wider group treated as collectively responsible.
As Jenkins notes with examples stretching back more than a century, horrible as it was the attacks of 9-11 were, in fact, nothing new:
Forty years after Alfred Nobel's invention of dynamite, Russian terrorists tried to pack a plane with the stuff and fly it into the tsar's palace. In 1883 Chicago-financed Fenians exploded bombs on the London underground, leading the Times to wonder if the tube could ever be safe. There has been little change in the preferred weapon of terror, the explosive device, or in the psychopathology of the bomber. The causes remain the same: separatism, and religious nationalism dressed up as holy war.

* * *
What has changed, grotesquely, is the aftershock. Terrorism is 10% bang and 90% an echo effect composed of media hysteria, political overkill and kneejerk executive action, usually retribution against some wider group treated as collectively responsible. This response has become 24-hour, seven-day-a-week amplification by the new politico-media complex, especially shrill where the dead are white people. It is this that puts global terror into the bang. While we take ever more extravagant steps to ward off the bangs, we do the opposite with the terrorist aftershock. We turn up its volume. We seem to wallow in fear.
... wallow in fear -- and then we panic. We tolerate an executive who endorses torture and thus admits to committing war crimes. We accept, worse we reelect, a president who secretly authorizes the creation of overseas "black sites" -- Stalinist gulags in effect -- to hide his misdeeds. And we willingly rush to throw out the Bill of Rights and undermine the very constitutional foundations of our democracy, as even the conservative Cato Institute acknowledges.

Ossama bin Laden himself could not ask for more:
The gruelling re-enactment of the London bombings in July and this weekend's 9/11 horror-fest are not news. They exploit grief and horror, and in doing so give gratuitous publicity to Bin Laden and al-Qaida. Those personally affected by these outrages may have their own private memorials. But to hallow the events with repetitious publicity turns a squalid crime into a constantly revitalised political act. It grants the jihadists what they most crave, warrior status. It more than validates terrorism as a weapon of war, it glorifies it.
We have met the enemy, as Pogo famously said, and it is us.

2 comments:

Bryan said...

It is amazing how closely these idiots are following the common assumptions about governments that are found in the terrorists' manuals: over reaction, repression, etc. It is everything a terrorist could hope for, but seldom receive to such a degree.

Bryan said...

Oh, on the other thing, I lived in both Alaska and Southern California and am attuned to earthquakes. It was almost due south of me, but I felt nothing. We must be on a different plate.