Friday, April 18, 2008

There's Courage Under Fire, Then There's Us ...

[How it should be - Liberty standing tall in the face of terrorism, not running around in a panic. Image credit: National Park Service]

Via Christy, Kung Fu Monkey puts our times in perspective [emphasis and bold from original]:

I am just not going to wet my pants every time some guys get arrested in a terror plot. I will do my best to stay informed. I will support the necessary law enforcement agencies. I will take whatever reasonable precautions seem, um, reasonable. But I will not be terrorized. I assume that the terror-ists would like me to be terror-ized, as that is what is says on their nametag, rather than, say, wanting me to surrender to ennui or negative body image, and they're just coming the long way around.

Wait, Aren't You Scared?

A little caution and even a bit of fear might be a good thing. Blinding, panicky, wet-your-pants-as-you-throw-your-civil-rights-in-their-path fear isn't:

I am absolutely buffaloed by the people who insist I man up and take it in the teeth for the great Clash of Civilizations -- "Come ON, people, this is the EPIC LAST WAR!! You just don't have the stones to face that fact head-on!" -- who at the whiff of an actual terror plot will, with no apparent sense of irony, transform and run around shrieking, eyes rolling and Hello Kitty panties flashing like Japanese schoolgirls who have just realized that the call is coming from inside the house!

Wait, Aren't You Scared?

The irony is so thick these days it's tough to see through it.

How do all those folks with those big stones measure up against figures from our past?

Maybe it's just, I cast my eyes back on the last century ...

FDR: Oh, I'm sorry, was wiping out our entire Pacific fleet supposed to intimidate us? We have nothing to fear but fear itself, and right now we're coming to kick your ass with brand new destroyers riveted by waitresses. How's that going to feel?

CHURCHILL: Yeah, you keep bombing us. We'll be in the pub, flipping you off. I'm slapping Rolls-Royce engines into untested flying coffins to knock you out of the skies, and then I'm sending angry Welshmen to burn your country from the Rhine to the Polish border.

US. NOW: BE AFRAID!! Oh God, the Brown Bad people could strike any moment! They could strike ... NOW!! AHHHH. Okay, how about .. NOW!! AAGAGAHAHAHHAG! Quick, do whatever we tell you, and believe whatever we tell you, or YOU WILL BE KILLED BY BROWN PEOPLE!! PUT DOWN THAT SIPPY CUP!!

... and I'm just a little tired of being on the wrong side of that historical arc.

Wait, Aren't You Scared?

Me, too. Last September I was trying to write an essay like this and just couldn't stand it. It's too painful to contemplate what a fear-plagued, panic-stricken country we've become. As Kung Fu Monkey claims to be, I'm not very brave, and I'm certainly not fearless. Yet I see through this without difficulty. Why can't the rest of the country?

To tell you the truth, I think I know the answer to that one.

UPDATE: Via Eli, Democracy Arsenal writes:

Here is the title of a report from(PDF) the Government Accountability Office on combating terrorism released today:

The United States Lacks a Comprehensive Plan to Destroy the Terrorist Threat and Close the Safe Haven in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

That is not some line buried in the report. That is the title.

GAO Slams Bush on Terrorism - says Al Qaeda attack likely and we have no plan

Frightened and panicky is just the way our politicians like us, I think.

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