The [Tuesday] Papers
Here's something that may be a bit odd: I can't watch or read coverage of tragic events like the one at the Boston Marathon yesterday for a good 24 to 48 hours after they happen. And even then, I only do so out of civic duty.
If I still worked in a newsroom, of course, I would do so out of professional responsibility - and obviously I've covered murders, plane crashes and even followed the trail of the Unabomber and the Versace killer as part of Newsweek's reporting team back in the day.
But as a quasi-civilian, I just can't do it.
It's not that I'm queasy. It's not that I've ever known someone who has been killed or even injured in such an event that brings some sort of repressed trauma to the surface. I just can't.
In fact, I still can't watch that video of those planes going into the Twin Towers. All those people in those buildings . . .
This may surprise people. I don't wear yellow ribbons. I'm not a rah-rah, wave-the-flag kind of guy. I didn't react to 9/11 by thirsting for revenge or hungering for torture or desiring to invade whatever the hell countries we wanted to. Quite the contrary.
But these sorts of things can be too much. It's one thing to be properly reflective; it's another to dwell oneself into despair. That doesn't do anybody any good.
The media's soap opera treatment - rife with speculation and overdosing on emoting - doesn't help. I'll read the straight news reports in a day or two to get the facts. I don't need to participate in what has now become a national ritual of mourning led by some of the densest people on the planet who somehow have jobs on TV.
I'm also greatly annoyed on an intellectual and political level by the response to these sorts of things, particularly the routine empty rhetoric from presidents about how resilient we are as a nation and from governors and mayors about how a particular city or state is tough enough to survive. Really? Some states and cities aren't?
(Obama: "Boston is a tough and resilient town; so are its people." Some towns aren't tough? If this happened in some places, would the president say, "Too bad this town isn't tough enough to survive"? It's just empty and narcissistic to me. Kandahar isn't tough enough to survive?
(Ald. Joe Moreno tweet: "#Boston will cry, endure and recover...Great towns can't be defeated." America's lesser towns can, though? Name them.)
Too much political and media opportunism by people who feel like they have to say something to be counted, or who think everything is about them - or can be.
Too little context, especially in a global sense. Pakistanis and Afghans and Yemenis love their children too. We are killing them. Imagine how they feel.
(See Glenn Greenwald's "The Boston Bombing Produces Familiar And Revealing Reactions.")
And then there are the weird hopes and wishes some of us have about the outcome, like hoping the perpetrator is a deranged American instead of a purposeful foreigner. We're already essentially living in a police state, the exact opposite of what 9/11 could have wrought if our leaders had more vision and as much confidence in the American people as they profess. We should have unleashed the grandest, boldest expressions of democracy ever seen on the planet, a riotous explosion of freedom to show that we not only would not be deterred, but we would reaffirm. Instead, we have been deterred. Badly.
But at the same time that I hope the Boston bomber was a nutjob who just wasn't wired right, I'm at a loss about the indiscriminate nature of the thing. An 8-year-old kid, jesus. At least target a corporate villain or politician . . . not that I'm advocating that. The wages of mental illness are unjust too.
There's just competing impulses between a "rational" explanation that would carry unfortunate political consequences versus an "irrational" explanation that would mark this as an isolated incident without much broader meaning.
And I know I'm far from the only one whose first thoughts included a wonder about what civil liberties and human rights will be rolled back now. Let's not do that.
Let's be solemn, not histrionic.
Let's buckle down and not continue to destroy that which we are trying to preserve.
We've done too much of that already.
I don't like this column very much. I just couldn't focus on Wrigley and school closings. Same old stuff. People in power are lying to you. MSM, with few exceptions, doing half-assed job surfacing the facts against narratives they feel compelled to reinforce. Dingbats in control of your information supply, lacking self-awareness and wallowing in ignorance while asserting arrogance. Learn, dammit.
Also, now would be a good time.
What if those were drone strikes at the Boston Marathon from a country hunting bad guys in America? That's how other countries feel about us.
The first question at the Boston governor Deval Patrick's press conference was from a representative of Alex Jones, asking if this was a false flag operation. Thought it would be a good time, then, to remind everyone that Billy Corgan is a huge Alex Jones fan.
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Posted on April 16, 2013
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