RANGER AGAINST WAR: Inglorious Bastards <

Monday, April 29, 2013

Inglorious Bastards

   I'm aware what tremendous feats human beings
are capable of once they abandon dignity 
--Inglourious Basterds (2009)

He kept dreamin'
That someday he'd be a star.
But he sure found out the hard way
That dreams don't always come true 
--Midnight Train to Georgia, 
Gladys Knight and the Pips 

Do you think because you are virtuous, 
that there shall be no more cakes and ale? 
--Twelfth Night (II, iii)

The Boston Marathon bombings occurred almost two weeks ago -- a world away, in Twitter years -- and the reaction to the perpetrators was visceral and immediate shock along the lines of "who could have imagined such a thing." Though an understandable protestation, it is disingenuous as we have been down this road before, and outrage will not stop these events.

Most are quick to use the latest atrocity as a stump for their agenda, but we need neither a police state nor more gumption to go out into the world of fun activities uncowed. This bombing is also discrete from gun ownership issues. For those unwilling to tag violent video games, movies, television and music as the genesis of the violent impulse, guns can also not be blamed for the recent eruptions of violence.

The non-sequitur after the bombings was a renewed call for gun control by those self-loathing Americans who blame our rights for the misconduct of a few. For those who earnestly argue the point, the U.S. is a hopelessly, malignantly violent society as it is predicated upon the ownership of killing tools. However, this view is hopelessly ethnocentric.

The United States does not have dibs on violence.

Photographer friend Zoriah (former embed with the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan) recently published a harrowing series of photographs of acid attack victims, people who will live out their lives horribly disfigured and in pain, many unable to even keep food in their mouths and much worse. This horror is conducted routinely around the globe, and without access to guns. Hatred and will are the only necessary components.

Less spectacular than acid attacks are the brutalities committed daily in any ordinary life without weapons, but actions whose indelible mark will be borne for a lifetime by the victims. We are all murderers, some figurative and some literal. The Shadow said it best: Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men.

Bottom line: Mankind is a brutal species, and removing guns to the hands of a few will not change that fact. Guns are not the Nodes of Ranvier which you may neatly remove to interrupt the perpetration of violence. At a garage sale last weekend was overheard the following exchange: "Do you suppose we should remove the pressure cookers?" And for what reason? And should we remove Borax and Jello and Ivory Snow and Popsicle sticks and anything else which might be used to go "BOOM"?

Because the will to power is so strong, and attacks render us impotent, the recourse to counter-attack is expected. We love Uncle Ruslan Tsarni's judgment -- "They were losers!" He removes the heat from his back by joining in our collective disgust. The usually-reasoned editor of The Week magazine, William Falk, called them "bastards", and otherwise poised commenters everywhere let loose with a passel of hauteur.

Comedian Sasha Baron Cohen captured Americans well in his low-brow film Borat when he has his undercover Kazakhstan newsman decked out in Toby Kieth red-white-and-blue shirt spouts a biblical litany of curses to be meted out upon our Middle Eastern enemies. At first, the crowd joins in, and not until Borat takes his invective to the absurd do the dupes get it and back off.

To us the brothers are "dummies", yet our Central Intelligence Agency missed Tamarlan Tsarnaev's recent 6-month visit to Russia due to a misspelling on a plane manifest (reminiscent of the original tragedy in the dystopian film "Brazil", wrought by a fly falling into the teletype which changed the name "Tuttle" into "Buttle" and ensuing bureaucratic errors.) Name-calling is rather schoolyard, and at best is a crude attempt to show the name-caller is inured to the harm caused by the bully. But as in school, slander usually only serves to promulgate the offense and ratchet up the efforts of the offender in order to re-establish his "good name".

The media called the older brother a "two-bit boxer"; in fact, he was the Golden Gloves champion from Massachusetts for two years. He lacked finesse, as did Serbian tennis champ Novak Djokovic, but he lacked the expensive handlers to shepherd him through the system. An interesting investigative piece at the NYT surmises that the insurmountable blocks with which he met may have contributing to his choice of violence (A Battered Dream.) The younger, Dzhokhar, was a college student at Dartmouth.

This is not a case of reifying national identities or political affiliations, it is about not participating in and perpetuating the violence. Labeling the problem stops progress; it is like doing medicine by the numbers. Inquiry opens it. For our own benefit, we should cease finding succor in name-calling.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to Zoriah. Not the kind of pic.s I want to look at, but the kind of pic.s we need to look at from time to time. I think your friend does a very good job.

When I saw those bombs go off in Boston I knew they were black powder and I thought, "Here we go again. They bought black powder at a gun store and......". Turns out the powder was from fireworks.

The Boston incident was such a microcosm of what's wrong with this country; everything from immigration issues, to welfare entitlement problems, to the growing police state.

When the younger bomber was in the boat and the police opened fire they said at the time that there was an "exchange" of gunfire. I only heard fire going one way (automatic fire at that). Now they say that there was no gun on the bomber or in the boat. Looks like the local LE were going to summarily execute (I suspect that the Feds called for a cease fire because they wanted him alive for questioning). Why have local LE not been called out for this - at least in the media if not officially?

And I'm just going to say this even though someone may take it a treasonous*, but we, in the name of freedom and democracy, have unleashed many more bombings of far greater scale on people all over the world, but particularly in Islamic regions, and there has been no sense of outrage in the media or by the good people of Boston for any of that. We have our collective head up our collective ass if we think that the chickens won't come home to roost and the righteous indignation expressed when they do is disturbing.

* These guys were enemies of my country and as such they need to be dealt with mercilessly, but within the parameters dictated by law.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 8:58:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Yes avedis, "within the parameters dictated by law."

Because that is who We are. Look up the story of "Mosab Hassan Yousef", thuggish son of a Hamas leader who defected to U.S. as a result of the humane treatment by Israeli interrogation personnel. Through example, he realized there was another way.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 10:32:00 AM GMT-5  

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