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Within a couple hours, news coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings had become repetitive and predictable. Every uniform or badge was a "hero"; endless drivel about "pulling together"; bravado about American fortitude; "how did you feel when..." questions; platitudes from politicians trying to assume a mock-Churchillian pose; and all the rest of it.

Let's assume, until something definite is known, that the perpetrator was a Middle Eastern terrorist. There is something good that could come out of this bombing, if we could just channel our shock and disgust in the right way, that is, sieze the moment to ask questions that normally never get asked. The most draconian dictatorship could not impose tighter censorship than we impose on ourselves, voluntarily it would seem.

Rather than lay out these questions in a point-by-point, policy-wonk style, I choose a concrete representation of all those questions. Let the questions arise indirectly when millions of Americans watch a remarkable movie about the French-Algerian War of the 1950s and 1960s. It's called the "Battle of Algiers", was made in Italy in the mid-1960s, and was partly funded by the Algerian government, just a couple years after their war of independence succeeded.

Even Bible-believing, Israel-worshiping, soon-to-be-Raptured Republicans could watch this movie and have completely different sympathies than if this were a Hollywood movie about God's Country (America) and the evil AAArabs. Even they would ask, "What the heck was France doing in somebody else's country?" Somebody might answer that Algeria was legally a part of France at the time. But what is so sacred about "law", when it's whatever 51% of a body of French politicians say it is.

And why were the French, self-professed champions of a Grand Civilization, torturing their prisoners? (The movie doesn't show it, but torture took place on both sides.) Torture -- now that's something God-fearing Americans would never tolerate!

An American viewer of this movie might feel enmity towards the very idea of the French Empire or any other empire of decadent old Europe. Most Americans are (justly) proud of having kicked the British Empire out of half of North America.

The American viewer might even sympathize with the Algerian freedom-fighter, patriot?, terrorist?, when he was captured and paraded out in front of the French press for questions. One of them asked him, "Isn't it cowardly to put bombs in women's baskets, and leave them in crowded buildings?" He answered by comparing Algerian methods to the military advantages of the French Empire: "You give us your planes and tanks. We will gladly give you our baskets."

The American viewer of the movie might catch himself wondering what the difference is between Algerian terrorism and the normal military operations of the French Empire. Numerically the legitimate governments of the world kill far more (innocent) people than the hit-or-miss methods of amateurish, low-budget terrorists.

It fascinates me to even imagine millions of Americans watching this movie. It would highlight the strange inconsistency of most Americans being anti-imperialist (or anti-colonial) as long as the bully is any country other than America. But as for our own un-American Empire that followed upon World War II, most Americans will just passively accept its necessity, legitimacy, and permanence. Then there is a terrorist act that kills Americans and we just can't understand why somebody would do such a thing.

On a lighter note: the movie has a soundtrack half-composed by Ennio Morricone.


edlfrey said…
All of those questions will be asked during the forthcoming Congressional investigations - Right? I would also expect Congress to have a law drafted within the next couple of days that would require background checks of anyone before they can buy a pressure cooker. I would also guess that the TSA will get expanded authority to search and grope throughout the land.
It is not all bad news however, used pressure cookers will become much more expensive and harder to find at yard sales and flea markets. They may be a better investment than gold and silver!
Boonie said…
I happen to have two unregistered pressure cookers. I use them for beans, rice, potatoes, and squash. And they are my water heater for taking a shower. I'd like to see Obama's goons prying them away from my cold, dead fingers... (grin)
Brian said…
You entertain the ideas of reason, integrity and honest, pragmatic study of history being injected into political dialog to lay out an intelligent and educated way "forward"...

The dream of all who believe that mankind can defy his base nature and gain the "Wisdom of the Gods"...

Do you believe in fairy tales?

I see no difference between "current events" and the prejudiced twisting of reality into propagandized fantasy that's been the history of mankind throughout recorded history... and not one degree of "Growth" in Human "Wisdom".

So... I believe I'll just climb on my big red Yamaha and, to the best of my ability, fail to commit any of the sins of arrogance I despise so deeply, against the people I pass along the way. It's all I have any control over.
Boonie said…
Brian, I'm not sure I understand most of this. But I like the line about "prejudiced twisting of reality into propagandized fantasy that's been the history of mankind throughout recorded history."
George said…
Brian, seems like mankind just cannot accept the "base nature," and I suppose it can be a dangerous thing, in a way, to accept it since wouldn't that mean we would then accept all sorts of vices, perhaps even getting rather casual about them? Seems like we have no choice but to disown and deny them, label it as "inhuman", etc. I agree that there is no forthcoming wisdom in mankind's development; it just goes around and around. My philosophy of life is the best of my ability, I try not to commit sins of arrogance, pride, etc. and, in addition, a low keyed life helps a lot. I stick to myself mostly and try to watch my words carefully.