July 08, 2005

Not A Post (About Terrorism)

I started this post a while ago and then thought better of it. See, I was going to have to start it off by coming up with this massive disclaimer because I know people don't always agree with me politically and that's fine. And I know that sometimes what I can say can offend people's sensibilities. And that's fine. I'd have said that I really do respect your opinions (because its true). After I'd said all that, though, I'd have launched into a tirade against dolts like Bush and Blair. Except, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have used the word "dolt" - its really not a word in my vocabulary I use all that much. Had I continued with the post, I would have used the word "dumbass" or maybe branched out and said "ignorant fuck" instead.

The whole post, I'd like you to know here and now, was going to be a wildly hilarious yet poignant attack on people, not just ignorant politicians, who overuse phrases to describe defending freedom and making terrorists pay. Shit like that. But then I realized I was angry in a way that I really found depressing. Angry in that really powerful way that makes you want to lash out in some blindingly violent manner but then, you realize, being all hopped up on that anger really has drained you. It all ends up being tempered by the realization that there's not a hell of a lot you can do with that anger. Its a little depressing.

It’s the London thing.

It all came about because I’m fucking sick of the clichés about bad people and their inability to suppress democracy, bad people and their lack of respect for free will. Had I gone on to actually write that post, I would have riffed on that for a while and said a few witty things in an offhanded, sarcastic way. Then I was going to throw in a line from the speech Bush delivered in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. The quote I would have used was this – “These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed; our country is strong.” I would have, at this point, scoffed but in an eloquent sort of way. I would have commented about the wild inaccuracy of that comment given the hindsight of four years. I’d have said that we have every right to be a little on edge. I’d have said that the country is inordinately weaker than it was four years ago. I’d have said that we’d solved none of the problems despite having created several diversions over the span of those four years. Four years later and two wars on and this shit is still happening? Way to nip that in the bud, I’d have said.

Next, in a stunning display of acuity, I was going to break out my almanac – because I love my almanac – and start spouting off facts. Every good rant needs facts and figures, I’d reckoned. I was going to tell you, for instance, that according to the populations of Great Britain and the United States, yesterday’s attack wasn’t all that much different in scale from that of September 11th. The United States, I’d have explained, lost about one-tenth of one percent of its population that fall day. Yesterday, Great Britain lost around one-half of one percent of its population. Everything’s relative.

Then – and this, well, this was going to be good – I was going to argue, as I have in the past, that we need to take a few moments to understand why people want to do this to us before we start blowing shit up, before we start in with the clichés about victory and terrorism and winning and losing and innocence and guilt and hatred and victimization. The knee-jerk reaction, I’d have argued, is indeed to load up the fighters, fire the missiles and send some troops in to serve the freedom-haters their democratically dispatched asses on a silver platter. But I’d have countered by saying that not all problems are solved by blowing shit up. Sometimes, I’d have said, it just isn’t that productive. Sometimes it doesn’t really answer the question – why? I fully realize that, after I’d said such an absurd thing, I’d sound like some sort of granola-loving, tie-dye t-shirt wearing pussy. But I’d probably be okay with that.

Anyway, if I was going to write a post about that, that’s what it would have been like. But I thought better of it.

Posted by Chris at July 8, 2005 08:24 AM

I've started three comments and dumped them- rather than search around for something profound I'll just say thanks for adding your voice to the mix- it's one of the more readable posts on yesterday's misery.

Posted by: vicki at July 8, 2005 08:42 AM

What is even worse (or maybe better) is that Bush can no longer get people to recruit for the armed services. Did you see a couple weeks ago on the news-they covered the Army enrollment quotas and they were going for somewhere around 8,000 troops, couldn't get that many, knocked it down to 7 or 6,000 and still didn't get that many recruits. I think in the end it came out to a odd 5, 000 people that had inlisted because these people are coming back from the war spreading the word that our friends and family are dying for nothing. My friend Evan is a Marine and the last time I even spoke to him was right before Christmas of 2003. That was right before he was going back to Camp Lajune to then be deployed to Afganistan. I haven't spoken to him since. I don't even know if he is still alive. All I can ask is why. Why are we letting our troops die and for what? I don't even think Bush knows anymore. Like you said, he'll just throw out one of those fancy anti-terrorism schpeels that make no sense. The last quote that I saw on MSN/NBC news online about our troops dying over there is that "It is worth it". Maybe he should send his daughters over there if he needs some recruits and see then if it's worth it. Jackass.

Posted by: Michelle at July 8, 2005 08:52 AM

I just added a note at my place that people should come over here and read this thoughtful post. Thanks again, Chris.

Posted by: vicki at July 8, 2005 09:02 AM

Well, personally I am very fond of tie-dye... AND cheesecloth, what can I say? I agree that blowing shit up is rarely the solution (sometimes it is) but if we take these attacks personally, which is the way they are intended, it's hard not to get pissed off.

I remember one time sounding off to a lady friend about how I didn't like the fact that certain enemy combatants were shooting at me when they didn't even know me (this was a while ago in a whole nother conflict). She retorted "they weren't shooting at YOU". HELLO? They fucking were, just as these guys were trying to blow up my friends, just as our troops are shooting at PEOPLE in the middle east.

We have sanitised war and violence far too much and depersonalised one of the most horrendously personal things in life. Tell one of the limbless survivors of Madrid that it wasn't personal.

I have no idea where I am going with this except to say I agree with you but I am fucking hacked off with all the indiscriminate violence. It is making me very upset.

Posted by: zeno at July 8, 2005 09:09 AM

Those that make the decisions regarding whose shit gets blown up are NEVER, EVER asked to put themselves in the firing line.
London was tragic, sickening, frightening and terribly sad. As was 9/11.
Violence begets violence and I wonder when it will end...if at all.

Posted by: DaFFy at July 8, 2005 09:31 AM

Excellent post.. Point made. Now if washington would listen.. My oldest just left for basic.. I am terrified.

Posted by: Angelia at July 8, 2005 09:35 AM

Thank you for (not?) posting about this. Once, shortly after 9/11, Bush said in a speech that he wasn't just going to war. He said he intended to get at the roots of terrorism. I was naive enough to believe that he meant poverty and desperation. Four years later, it's obvious he meant he was actually going to tear people up by their roots.

You're right, it doesn't seem to be working all that well.

Posted by: Julie at July 8, 2005 09:51 AM

I am as usual going to insert my opposing opinion here. Having spent significant time studying religion and politics in the middle east in college, stating "that we need to take a few moments to understand why people want to do this to us" is a big waste of time. Guess what? Most likely if you asked the four people who planted the bombs in London yesterday why they did it, they couldn't tell you. They have been trained to feel it is their duty, it doesn't come from some rational reasoning.

Read the Koran, study Islam, it does not tell people to blow us up. It does not support violence, yet if you asked why they do this, that would be the answer. The middle east has been unstable for ages, long before the birth of Western Civilization. Now with planes, trains and automobiles, terrorists are not geographically bound to only blowing up things in the middle east.

Do you really think that if you got to ask Osama bin Laden he would give you a rational reason for terrorizing the world? You are asking for rationality when there is none. I think you are asking too much when expecting the enemy to have thought this out rationally like you would.

Personally, I think war is too easy, I think we should just indiscriminately blow shit up the way the terrorists do. Why are we bound to give a rational response to irrational terror? Do you really think pacifism would end terrorism?

Posted by: goodsnake at July 8, 2005 10:32 AM

So much more eloquent than any post I could (not) make about this. At this point, I think I'm still too scared to be angry with Bush or Blair or anyone else. But once I hear from my boyfriend and that fear passes? Yeah, I'm pretty sure the anger is going to kick in full force.

Posted by: Kerry at July 8, 2005 10:38 AM

This is by far the best post/article I have read about yesterday's events, and the supposed 'war on terrorism' after 9/11. This should be published.

Posted by: ava at July 8, 2005 10:41 AM

Well, you know I'm not with you in solidarity in the hippie-love, nor on this line of thought.

But, I still like you, dude. :-)

Posted by: Polichick at July 8, 2005 10:59 AM

I'm with Pollchick. While I don't agree with everything you said, necessarily, this country's all about the ability to voice our thoughts and opinions on the subject, thank goodness. And some of us are even grown up enough to agree to disagree.

Posted by: Queen of Ass at July 8, 2005 11:03 AM

url corrected- thanks Chris

Posted by: vicki at July 8, 2005 11:05 AM

I tend to agree with goodsnake that we can't apply rationality to the problem because the militants are not rational. We are hated for many reasons, not the least of which is simply that we are not Muslim.

So while I agree that going to war in Iraq has not and will not do anything to combat terrorism, we can't rely on solely diplomacy either, because that's like throwing spitwads at a Sherman tank.

As usual, I sit firmly on the fence and able to see and understand both sides of the argument. But I respect everyone's opinion, and I appreciate that you do, too. There are no easy solutions to this.

Posted by: donna at July 8, 2005 11:16 AM

It's a good thing you didn't write that post, who knows what could have came from it. ;) Good non-post.

Posted by: Carla at July 8, 2005 11:29 AM

Chris, I popped in and out of your place all day yesterday waiting for you to say everything you just did in the way you do best.

Most excellent, my friend. Most excellent....

Posted by: lu at July 8, 2005 11:30 AM

Well, somebody had to rant about that, so I did it for you on my site. Pass the granola.

Posted by: Jason at July 8, 2005 11:59 AM

I completely agree with you. I felt the same way after 9/11 as I do everyday since. I knew that Bush and his cabal would ramrod us into continual war. They, Halliburton, and the Carlyle Group want this neverending war. It's good for their business. They lost the faux-boogeyman of the Soviet Union (were they ever seriously a true threat, or were they just trying to keep up with the Brinkmanship of Nixon/Reagan?). Now the Neo-cons, warhawks, and corporate leaders have their invisible spectre to scare the masses. Terrorism. Something so sinister and yet something so intangible. What is it? One persons terrorist is anothers freedom fighter (I am not condoning, apologizing or legitimizing). Where is it (it certainly wasn't in Iraq before the 'war')? What good does having the largest military with the largest # of tanks and missles when the people we are dealing with live in our cities, and other cities around the world, just waiting. What good is our constitution when the fundy's and facists in our government continually tramp upon our civil liberties? Our country is on a spiral towards something very scary. Something much scarier than any terrorist can inflict upon us.

Posted by: Chris at July 8, 2005 12:20 PM

Wait a minute... I have to put on my tie-dye and put down my soy milk... There. OK.

I started off on a long series of comments here because your post made me want to say a lot, because it's good to read a thinking reaction, but I realized that this is your page, not mine, so I'm going to put it on my own. (Wow, that was a long sentence, not to mention shameless advertising for my site too)

Thank you for the thoughtful way you wrote that.

Posted by: Bonanza Jellybean at July 8, 2005 12:21 PM

How very well...unsaid.

I used to do a lot of ranting. Not as much about politics, mainly because I've tried to tune out the last several years.

Lately, I've tried to re-focus my energies into my kids and actually making a small difference locally.

Some days, when I lack the energy to do even that, I wish that music could save the world. Cause I'd play till my fingers bled and sing till I lost my voice if it were that simple.

As usual, what you might have said was thought provoking and very well unspoken. The Beanette is going to be a very lucky young lady to have a father who's so passionate and a mother that's so witty. :)

Posted by: Holly at July 8, 2005 12:29 PM

I am not going to comment on this, but if I did I would say that I totally agree with you and I think if you wrote a post like that it would be well-received and it would help people engage in a dialogue which is what we need more than anything. If we all spent more time explaining how we feel and think about life, and we all truly listened to each other, we might actually be able to work together and achieve something resembling peace. Instead we react to things and make a futher mess of the situation and then we get angry when the solution isn't what we wanted even though we didn't participate in the making of the decision. I am guilty of that, too. Spouting off at home, yelling at the TV, ranting on our blogs, etc, is all fine and good and certainly important, but if we want to be part of the solution, we must get involved in our local community, reach out to people, know the decision makers, and let our voices be truly heard. Accountability starts at home. Easier said than done, but we have to start somewhere.

Also, I need to add that Bush is a fucktard and a half and if that motherfucker doesn't get impeached soon, my head is going to explode!

That would be my comment, if I were going to comment on it. Thanks for speaking out. It really is an inspiration.

Posted by: Ms.Q at July 8, 2005 12:45 PM

an excellent non-post

(and I hope you don't mind that I have linked this non-post)

Posted by: Kathryn at July 8, 2005 01:12 PM

Goddamnit, Jason! You ate all the granola. Now run on down to the co-op and pick up some more, okay?

Chris, if you HAD written a post like that, I would have commented about how sick and disgusted I am of this entire mess.

So far the ONLY bright spot for me has been that a staunch Republican friend of mine called me yesterday to say, "Our President is an idiot. I made a mistake. I voted for the wrong man."

See, I agree with bringing down the Taliban and going after al Qaeda. I think that was the right thing to do. However, we STILL don't have bin Laden and oh, by the way, who's actually controlling the oil supply in Iraq? Because I'm paying twice what I paid a year ago. Somebody SOMEWHERE is getting extremely wealthy off of all this and I'd be willing to bet you that he's going to take Bush out for a beer to thank him.

Posted by: Stacy at July 8, 2005 01:31 PM

Yeah, I'm not sure what pouring more troups in the Iraq would do, other than to train more Al Qaida fighters. Funny how things like this happen just after opinion polls showed more opposition to the war in Iraq than ever, and George's approval rting had slumped to an all-time low.

Its amazing what a terrorist attack can do for building a case for an unrelated war, recruuting terrrorists, and saving a politicians career.

Posted by: Jon in Michigan at July 8, 2005 01:36 PM

Darnit I wanted to be the first one to express that if I would comment, I would say -blank- but I'm not going to...

You have too many other clever friends! :)

I enjoyed reading your rant today, you had some excellent points...I myself, am going the denial route and not mentioning it on my blog at all. It's just safer for me and my brain!

Happy Friday, you puss! ;)

Posted by: Kate at July 8, 2005 01:41 PM

Thanks for your non-post. I keep on trying to put into words an appropriate comment, but you really said all that needed to be said. And it DID need to be said.

P.S. I love granola.

Posted by: Raybelle at July 8, 2005 02:27 PM

again, i completely agree with you. Sigh.

I got stuck in a thought pattern of "if they hit L.A., where would it be" this morning.

That is not productive at all.

Posted by: amy at July 8, 2005 02:28 PM

I'm sick of hearing how we, or England, will prevail in the midst of such evil and I'm even more sick of hearing this compared to 9/11 and I'm even morer sick of the news channels exploiting this tragedy and squeezing every last drop of blood out of it that they can.
Instead of making it such a stance against terrorists and being all "see? I told you they were evil! We must blow up more countries just because we can!" I'd rather hear some sympathy, some compassion, some ohmygod these poor people and their poor families. I hate politicians.

Posted by: RockStar Mommy at July 8, 2005 02:44 PM

Chris, thanks so much for this. I have been thinking about these things for a long long time. And you inspired me to write something on my blog today. Swing by when you get a chance.

Posted by: Mike at July 8, 2005 02:47 PM

You know, I was thinking... the solution to London getting attacked is for us to stick our noses in and throw a dart at a map and whatever country it lands on, we'll just blow up. That'll make perfect sense! Of course, I'm sure they've already thought of this. In fact, Cheney is probably spinning a blind-folded Bush holding a dart around the oval office as I type this...

Posted by: RockStar Mommy at July 8, 2005 02:47 PM

I just want to comment on the Bush speech yesterday at G8. What an ASS!! He didnt know what to say so he repeated the same scripted sentences three times. My friend in Thailand told me today that there are bombings there every month and it never makes the news.

Blair and Cherie should get kicked out and live in the gutter, they are pure eviL!!!!!

Posted by: mrsmogul at July 8, 2005 02:48 PM

The only thing I can think of in response is to quote what President-unelect Bush stated previously:

"You know I think about Iraq every day... every single day."

Because, you know, I had hoped he thought about it every single fucking moment with guilt riding upon his dark, assinine soul. But my hopes were too fucking high.

Though, I will say, I love Jon Stewart, who can make that painful statement into the funniest damn thing I've heard in 6 years.

Posted by: autumn at July 8, 2005 03:46 PM

Also, can I have some granola? I'm all out here.

Posted by: autumn at July 8, 2005 03:51 PM

I agree with everyone who'd said this is the best post on the London bombing I've read.

Posted by: Jim at July 8, 2005 06:01 PM

Well, I for one would have enjoyed that post.

Posted by: Amber at July 8, 2005 06:49 PM

De-Lurking to add...good post...and that I truly do wonder if it made any difference, one way or the other, when terrorism hits and/or on whose watch.

Terrorism comes in many forms and has been around, well, forever.

My parents were forced to flee from their homelands, barely, because of a government who insisted on feeding their people fear and terror (and very little else) into their everyday lives.

That government is no longer in power, btw.

I agree that there war may not be the answer, but if we give into terrorism, everyone loses.

I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that, in my parents' case, I'm thankful America "got involved" when they did.

And thank you for "not" posting!

Posted by: Lizzie at July 8, 2005 07:10 PM

One of the reasons that so few people died is that London is used to bombings. From the IRA. A bunch of people blowing stuff up for exactly the same reason: they were given support to do so. There were talks, though, and a goal. Things went in that direction, and Sinn Fein died out.

What is the goal of al Qaeda? Unfortunately, it makes even less sense. But Muslims around the world have said that the European oppression of Muslims (see France, as a FINE example) only aids recruiting techniques in other places.

Perhaps treating the true Muslims with kindness and generosity and understanding would do more than people want to believe.

Posted by: alektra at July 8, 2005 07:36 PM

Right with ya 100 percent. And being from Eugene. OR. I wear tie-die and live off granola. I am also a big fan of tree higgin'! IT's hard to live in this country, and yesterday made it that much harder to live in this world; not to undermine anything that has been happening. Leaves ya feeling a little worn down and hopeless. sorry to be a downer...

Sunshine, butterflies and pretty little baby girls. Hope that's a bit better!

Posted by: Angela at July 8, 2005 09:35 PM

Well said, Chris.

Posted by: Heather at July 8, 2005 10:28 PM

I have to say that in our current social climate, you are very brave to post this. But, I do have to agree with you. Despite all of my fear, frustration and anger from these attacks, I know nothing will be solved until we try to understand why they want to attack us. And it is more, so much more than our freedom that drives their hatred. Guh! Thank you for saying what needs to be said. I'm always glad to hear their are other Virginians who feel this way.

Posted by: Nicole at July 8, 2005 11:26 PM

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand I'm just going to say AMEN TO THAT.

Posted by: Kymmie at July 8, 2005 11:32 PM

If I were going to comment, I'd probably have said something about you using your sarcasm and wit to degrade those who splatter children all over trains, but I thought better of it.

Posted by: Mike at July 9, 2005 12:43 AM

Thanks for not posting a bunch of things that weren't going through my mind, either.

Posted by: Daria at July 9, 2005 08:27 AM

Yesterday morning, I read this post, and started typing a comment.

As I kept typing, I realized it was more a "post" than a "comment".

So I wanted to say thank you for sharing your opinion, and if you're so inclined, I just posted.

Posted by: Heather at July 9, 2005 12:44 PM

Impressive post and look at all of these comments.

It's terribly difficult to change how people feel about their violent actions, once they feel it's the right thing to do, or it's their duty for something greater than themselves. It's even difficult to persuade someone to change a simple daily habit, much less a deep-rooted belief.

I still try to maintain some hope that the mentality will someday change. It's all I can do in the face of all of this.

Posted by: Mona at July 9, 2005 08:33 PM

I liken the terrorist cells to free radical cells that cause cancer. Maybe if we find a cure for cancer, we find the cure to terrorism?

Oh, and according to Bush, they want to blow us up "Because they hate democracy."

So you don't need to bother asking them why. Bush knows. Duh.

Posted by: harrietranier at July 10, 2005 11:08 AM

i'm all granola-loving, and tie-dye t-shirt wearing wtih you on this one. the knee-jerk reaction of violence begetting violence doesn't solve anything. and i'd really like to know how shrubya thinks his regime has an "ideology of hope and compassion that will overwhelm their ideology of hate" when people are needlessly dying in iraq and afghanistan...

Posted by: suze at July 10, 2005 05:59 PM


Posted by: Chris at July 11, 2005 01:56 PM