Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Silent running

By Capt. Fogg

The weeping and wailing industry is almost as quick to react to certain events as the paramedics are, and this morning's paper has a local runner's group holding a silent run in the attempt to feel relevant or perhaps to express ire that anyone would interfere with one of America's sacred sports. Yes, I'm sounding cynical here, but it's not because I'm callous with regard to the loss of life and all the injuries, it's just that in recent decades, the public reaction to high profile death has been so orchestrated and so formulaic that it cheapens the moment and distracts us from seeing such things in context. I'm not interested in crying, I don't subscribe to self-pity and I don't need closure or healing. I'm interested in being able to keep the kind of things that have plagued us all at least since Guy Fawkes tried to blow up Parliament from happening, as much as is possible in a free country.

Judging from other events, we'll soon be seeing piles of Teddy Bears on Boston streets and other silent runnings slowly turning our anger and willingness to learn from this event into a declining series of maudlin and sentimental exhibitions of self-pity and the lachrymose quest for 'healing.' One might forget just how rare such occurrences are in our country. One will forget what must be done to keep things that way. Our record, at least since the Oklahoma City bombing and the events of 2001, to thwart bombing attempts has been pretty good and the mawkish mourning and stuffed animal social club hasn't played much of a part. 

According to a CNN.com editorial, only one successful bombing in America has been carried out since 9/11/01 -- by a White Supremacist. In the decade before that there were many, not the least of which were the killing of 168 in Oklahoma City, the 1998 Olympic bombing in Atlanta and the 1993 World Trade garage bomb which killed 6. I don't include the horror of the 'Branch Davidian' holocaust, where David Koresh and his devout men of valor as he called them burned his followers to death.

What can we learn from the recent past? That such events are pretty rare in America and getting more so as compared with Europe -- that our domestic politics of anger and violence is costly, for another. 380 people have been indicted on terrorism-related charges in the United States between September 11, 2001 and December 31 2012 and of those 207 have been so-called 'jihadists' or Muslim extremists, but non-Muslim perpetrators, 80% of whom have been American "conservatives" have killed 29 versus 17 by Muslims. All this and more from a Syracuse University study.

But we've obviously gotten better. We're catching nearly all the bombers and poisoners before they can act. We'll never achieve perfect safety, not even if we achieve a perfect police state, but we'll come closer if we pay more attention to our own potential terrorists all across the political and religious spectrum and spend less time wallowing in stylized and choreographed sorrow.

Is it time to notice just how much of our grossly exaggerated fear of mad bombers should be directed toward the American Right? How much is fueled by Rush and Fox and Coulter and Bachmann and yes, the holy hellfire Christian Conservatives?

(Cross-posted from Human Voices)

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