Thursday, October 28, 2010

All Aboard

--L'Ange du Foyeur, Max Ernst

Honey, honey, can't you hear?

Funny, funny music, dear

Ain't the funny strain

Goin' to your brain?

--Everybody's Doin' It Now
Irving Berlin

One of these things is not like the others,

One of these things just doesn't belong,

Can you tell which thing is not like the others

By the time I finish my song?

--The Sesame Street Song


Why does the media spread hype about terrorism versus the actual facts?

The hype has perhaps seen its apotheosis being woven into the plots of most criminal television programs with the latest fad -- the
terrorist takeovers of schools. Surely this is crime most heinous, yet it is naught but a hotch-potch of fiction seasoned by a smidgeon of outdated news.

But that is adequate to strike fear in the average viewer, who hasn't much time to fact-check before bedtime and the morning alarm.
People watch these programs feeling uneasy that they are viewing something familiar ... and they are. But Hollywood is constructing this toxic brew serving to keep everyone all aboard the war bandwagon -- liberal Hollywood!

NCIS, Blue Bloods, The Unit and Flashpoint are each complicit in serving us this horrible fantasy: The terrorists are here, they're strac and they want your children, now.

What is the point of this fantasy? Is it the sublimation of exhausted, hyper-vigilant helicopter parents? The resolution always involve bloody fights won by assault teams. The program "Criminal Minds" gave the same unrealistic scenario, except with serial killers. Ranger predicts the next trend will be serial-killing terrorists.

These shows are so far from reality that they should be viewed after dropping acid, in place of a planetarium visit. There have been two isolated incidents of terrorists attacking schools: The 1974 Ma'alot Massacre off 22 Israeli students by the PDFLP, and the 1977 Moluccan hostage crisis in the Netherlands in which the terrorists did not kill any of their hostages, but two students died in a subsequent police raid.

Terrorists soon realized that attacking schoolchildren will not generate sympathy and erodes the aura of the group,
and so this activity was not repeated. It is simply not conducive to gaining funds and new members, which is the goal of most terrorist activity.
Also, terrorists will not waste their assets on a schoolhouse attack because there is no way to extricate their assets; a professional operative is not suicidal.

Terror has a purpose beyond the simple violence suffered by the target group: it is symbolic and aims to spread fear beyond the target audience. If it does not accomplish that goal, it is simply crime. What would any terror group hope to achieve by killing children on U.S. soil?

If the answer were as simple as the war hawk/fundamentalist crowd claims, we would imagine their purpose would actually be eradicating Americans. But that would an arduous way to go about the task of winnowing down a nation of 300+ million people; there are simply too many of us. (The 22 Israeli students killed was a far greater actual loss to a small nation like Israel, so the PDFLP attack could be seen as achieving both ends, though the publicity was a negative gain.)

These t.v. programs are simply hawking fear in the guise of machismo.
The writers shamelessly conflate news of actual school murders -- like those in China, Scotland, Chechnya, Columbine and Pennsylvania -- taking the onus off the crazy one-off shooter and institutionalizing it in the form of a well-oiled generic terrorist machine; it just ain't the reality.

The U.S. media consumer is never exposed to the facts on terrorism, which can easily be found in non-classified United Nations or State department reports. Why? Put in perspective, so many more of your fellows are killed each year by auto accidents and medical mistakes as to make the actual threat of terrorism pale.

But that wouldn't generate the kind of mass paranoia that needs to be kept on a low simmer to fuel the complacency of the average citizen, Democrat and Republican, alike.

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Blogger Peter of Lone Tree said...

But that would an arduous way to go about the task of winnowing down a nation of 300+ million people...
It's only a minor point, Ranger, but I have it on good authority that the population of the U.S. is only about 200 million.

Friday, October 29, 2010 at 9:11:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Are you telling me that the Terrorists have already eliminated 100 mil Americans?
Maybe i was wrong about their effectiveness.

Friday, October 29, 2010 at 9:13:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


I always appreciate your considered input, but I thought the U.S. had 250 million over a decade ago. Do you mind revealing your source?

Friday, October 29, 2010 at 11:11:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Peter of Lone Tree said...

"Do you mind revealing your source?"

The Dark Wraith

Friday, October 29, 2010 at 1:35:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget the Beslan incident:


Though I think Spetznatz got a little over exuberant and accidently killed most of the hostages. Still, it is the prototypical terrorist school hostage situation.


Friday, October 29, 2010 at 1:44:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Thank you.

Friday, October 29, 2010 at 2:00:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Thank you, but we hadn't forgotten the Chechens (though most everyone else does.) It's just that RAW categorized them more as militant separatist nationalists, rather than actual terrorists. Perhaps a fine line ...

Friday, October 29, 2010 at 7:14:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

I think we've now officially gone from the silly to the truly ridiculous on this whole thing with the business of the airfreight bombs.

My understanding is that these things were tiny - they were described as "computer printer toner cartridges", meaning that they had to be less than a pound of SEMTEX. And they were being mailed to some private synagogues in the U.S. - meaning that this was an act of private, sectarian intimidation rather than an attack on national security.

Nonetheless the national "news" media is now in a tizzy, the President was briefed, fighter aircraft were scrambled to escort an airliner (which proved to have no explosives on board)...

This is both self-defeating and self-deluding. We've now officially (in my view) gotten to the point where the stupidity is a self-licking ice cream cone. The Islamic neocons don't even need to mount a credible attack to make us expend a pantsload of public angst and public treasure doing some sort of friggin' national security mad minute.


Saturday, October 30, 2010 at 2:11:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

The incident that you refer to shows the result of brutal ethnic societal strife which imho has gone beyond terrorism.
What is the statement or intent. The society is in a state of terror without this incident.
Thanks, as always,

Sunday, October 31, 2010 at 12:39:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Your cmts are ASSUMING that the explosive is actually of military grade.
It could be anything up to and including gun or blackpoeder.
Even if it were c4/semtex then why didn't it explode?
What was the initiator?
My guess would put it at 1/4 lb.
Still a kick in the ass , assuming....
You get the point. Yep, it's all theater.

Sunday, October 31, 2010 at 12:43:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Wanna bet a cuppa?

Sunday, October 31, 2010 at 12:43:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Peter of Lone Tree said...

Wanna bet a cuppa?

I don't see any way to resolve the question, since the only figures that we could use would be government figures.

Sunday, October 31, 2010 at 2:24:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

It's only a cup of coffee.

Monday, November 1, 2010 at 9:33:00 AM GMT-5  

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