RANGER AGAINST WAR: Bring it On!, Redux <

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bring it On!, Redux

--Hajo de Reijger 

Bring 'em on 
--President George W. Bush (2003)

 Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn? 
--Where Have All the Flowers Gone, 
Pete Seeger

This is probably the most foolish editorial thus far on the Boston bombing:
Thomas L. Friedman

Op-Ed Columnist

Bring on the Next Marathon


We're just not afraid anymore.

Friedman expresses the same bravado that began the enervating Wars on Terror, namely, "Bring it on!" But that machismo rings false, as any act of terror does not come with a "bring it on" response; your emotions, Mr. Friedman, are tinny and false, disrespectful and callow.

From the Op-Ed,

"We still do not know who set off the Boston Marathon bombs or why. But we do know now, after 9/11, after all the terrorism the world has seen in the last decade, what the right reaction is: wash the sidewalk, wipe away the blood, and let whoever did it know that while they have sickeningly maimed and killed some of our brothers and sisters, they have left no trace on our society or way of life. Terrorists are not strong enough to do that — only we can do that to ourselves — and we must never accommodate them. 

"So let’s repair the sidewalk immediately, fix the windows, fill the holes and leave no trace — no shrines, no flowers, no statues, no plaques — and return life to normal there as fast as possible. Let’s defy the terrorists, by not allowing them to leave even the smallest scar on our streets, and honor the dead by sanctifying our values, by affirming life and all those things that make us stronger and bring us closer together as a country."

"Left no trace"? Oh, Mr. Friedman, you are a little late off the starting block on this one.  The time for arguing "Get on with it!" is past. The U.S. is inextricably committed to a long, feckless war, one which leaves us not one jot safer from the thing with which we claim to tussle -- terrorism. If anything, our wars disallow us to ever return to normal.  Brave words now: Defy the terrorists.

That wasn't your tune a decade ago, so how dare you co-opt the loser's phrase in service of your new-found bravery? "Sanctify our values"? And what exactly would those be? And does your advice hold to those upon whom we are committing violence?  Do they just wash off their streets and commence again?

Your piece is rifled by contradictions: "eyes always on the prize, never on all those 'suspicious' bundles on the curb", yet you admit "The explosives were reportedly packed into six-litre pressure cookers, tucked into black duffel bags and then left on the ground." The Israelis do not ignore untended packages, and perhaps neither should we.  The time for you to laud that "quintessentially American naïveté" is not now. 

How easy to celebrate a human reaction as a rational impulse ("When you watch the video of the bombing aftermath, notice how many people you see running toward the blast within seconds to help, even though more bombs easily could have been set to explode there"), when you might be suggesting helpful lessons which would allow our citizens to live sensibly in the midst of the reality of such actions, while not cowering or being Pollyannaish, either.  Running toward the sight of probable secondary explosions is not helpful.

Now we've moved past the "Friedman Unit" (FU) to the Friedman Ostrich pose; neither are very attractive or functional.

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Blogger BadTux said...

Ah yes, Fried Man of Friedman Unit fame for how right he was about the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and about the economy and... uhm, why does this hack have a job, again, given that he's been right, well, *never*? Just wonderin'.

Keep calm and carry on, but that isn't bravado, that's just what you have to do if you aren't going to spend your days cowering in terror. Personally, I'm not interested in cowering in terror... but that's not bravado, that's just a decision to live my life.

Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 2:36:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


I'm advocating neither for cowering nor for blindness. We're not fragile little flowers, and need to understand the reality in order to strike the correct posture.

That means institutionally and personally we must be informed -- it's not enough to just get by on American Can-Do, when we don't really know what to do. (Oh, cleaning products we have by the ton, but I mean beyond street sweeping apres-bomb.)

Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 12:23:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous mike said...

Lisa -

Informed by whom is the question? The media? I have not trusted them in years. Their only duty is to sell commercials or newspapers. Politicians? They put party over country, why should their information be trusted? Pundits? You covered that mess very well.

Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 10:51:00 PM GMT-5  

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