Have a Better Story
It's hard to fathom why this country responds to events the way it does. The best I can come up with is that there has to be an official unifying narrative that creates a sense of togetherness. A year ago two people on the fringe of society exploded a couple of pressure cookers near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Somehow this was a vastly greater crime than the routine murders that take place every day all over the country in cities large and small, in rural areas, in bodies of water, and sometimes in the air.
Last Tuesday Boston's radio station WBUR aired a segment The Boston Marathon Bombing And America’s Terror Threat Now, exploring the threat of terrorism today and security measures to prevent it. It was a pretty pro-forma discussion, and I had this response:
In the modern mass system we depend on bureaucracies to make and implement policy. This hour was a good example. Focusing on the Boston Marathon, various bureaucracies involved are busy preparing for last year's attack, as if somehow it can be prevented this year.The race was run without incident, with much hoopla over the first "American" winner in thirty-one years, Meb Keflezighi, a naturalized citizen born in "Eritrea." CNN calls his victory "triumphant in a storied race that has become a national symbol of resiliency and determination." In Los Angeles he is praised as a "Californian."
The problem with this approach is that last year's attack happened last year. The perpetrators of that attack didn't plan for a previous attack that would be easier to stop. Instead, they planned for something new that would be more likely to succeed.
I remember during the Vietnam war that after 1968 preparations were made every spring for the Tet Offensive, as if a one-time assault campaign was going to happen every year because it was done once. Bureaucracies are good at projecting trends far into the future.
What doesn't occur to bureaucracies, because it can't, is that the best way to prevent terrorism is to avoid diddling around the planet starting wars, kidnapping people, torturing, imprisoning, attacking civilians with drones, and scapegoating a specific religious belief. We live in a world where vast numbers of people are afflicted with a variety of mental disorders. If you add a context of perceived religious persecution to a mix of mentally unstable population you increase the likelihood of some of them planning terrorist attacks.
If you add to this predicament a largely irresponsible mass information media industry that chooses to foment the prejudices that inflame the situation, some people will be driven even farther over the edge.
There very likely won't be another attack at the Boston Marathon. There will be another attack somewhere else, though, one of these days. It will be the one that we aren't preparing for.
Meanwhile, on the diddling around front, fifty-five people have been killed in "U.S." drone strikes in "Yemen," and according to our leaders, ALL are of course "Al Qaeda." Maybe, maybe not. We'll have to see how this plays out. One man's "Al Qaeda" is another man's unlucky civilian. There has been so much deceit from high places over the past many years that it's hard to tell what to believe.
For most of us, the dual triumphs of the Boston Strong Marathon and the bombing of the maybe, maybe not "AQAP" base in "Yemen" are good enough. We'll take our triumphs where we can get them. When the Bush criminal regime invaded "Iraq" it did so with 90% public support.
There's just one problem with a populace so easily swayed. It can be easily swayed in any direction. A society so needful of reassurance is fair game for manipulation. All that is required of manipulators is the ability to tell a good story. If metaphor and myth can be evoked, hearts and minds will follow.
Maybe this is a lesson for "leftists" and others who advocate for change. Have a better story. If George W. Bush could avoid responsibility for the worst domestic attack in "American" history, invade two countries, and usher in the most serious economic decline since the Great Depression, maybe he knew something about mythmaking. It's grating to think that he had any skill at anything, but his farcical presidency was skillfully criminal. It would have failed without effective storytelling. Just for a little compare and contrast, imagine John Kerry presiding over the "911" attacks, the invasions of "Iraq" and "Afghanistan," and the meltdown of the economy. He'd be tarred and feathered.
Here's a song that fits. Here's another. This too.
For an update on diddling around the planet, click here.
Here's an update on the nature of our government's torture, kidnapping, assassination and whatnot infrastructure.
Here's a variation on a theme. Time is running out.