Rallying round the flag

According to a local news report, Walmart has sold 114,000 American flags Tuesday.

A downtown flag store is doing a booming business. When the chips are down, we rally round the flag. I was initially pissed off at the panic around here. I was heartened by the willingness of people here to help in the blood drives. I finally shook off the shock long enough to surf around a little bit to read what people were writing about these events, trying to cure my distaste for the media rhetoric.

I am heartened to find that many analysts are paying attention to the manipulation involved. Noam Chomsky’s rhetorical pattern pissed me off. He explains the terror in terms of US misdeeds. Ted Koppel and Peter Jennings on ABC did much the same thing, saying that the US doesn’t realize just how deep the hatred in the world goes. None of this explains or justifies why people are willing to kill innocents in the name of a cause. It’s rhetoric. Whether it’s political rhetoric or religious rhetoric, it’s still a mode of convincing people that human life is worth suicidal sacrifice. Don’t use that rhetoric on me; I’m not buying it in the name of any god, or any flag. I was happy to feel that others feel the same. The messages of support that pour in through e-mail and international (not US) news coverage tell a different story. It’s a story that this is not purely a US issue, or problem. It’s a world problem. How do we fight against those who do not hold life sacred?

The most reasoned response I’ve read is Nothing Good Comes From Terror by Vijay Prashad.

The problem with abstract domination, however, is that there is no one enemy, there is no center that can be easily identified as the hub of global woes, there is no baron’s castle or even industrialist’s factory to assault. Domination is silent and faceless, but its tentacles squander the dreams of most of us across the world. We don’t know why those who drove the planes to such terror did what they did, but perhaps they were in search of an enemy that made them feel less than human, that pushed them to squander their own ethics.

I refuse to squander my own ethics and succumb to pointless thoughts of vengeance. Although I don’t like our current political leaders, I have no choice but to hope that they have the sense to know that more pointless death will not solve anything. Giving blood, giving money, volunteering time to repair the damage and get our lives back together is the only thing that matters right now. I am sickened by the cries of cowardice and evaluation of Bush’s conduct by the media in the first hours of the crisis. I would rather the leader of the country be in a bunker at a time of crisis, than making politically motivated gestures of foolish bravery. To suggest that a man who holds such an important position should be stood up in front of the rubble in time of crisis in another photo-op is really stupid. I applaud Laura Bush’s visit to the Pentagon, mostly because she did NOT say that she would go to New York right away to keep the presidency in the spotlight. What happens in terms of the investigation should not be all over the TV, though I am proud of my country for the shift away from vengeance in the media today into increased coverage of the recovery efforts. Our thoughts should be with those whose lives were ripped apart, not with the indistinct face of an unseen enemy. Around the world, it’s people that matter. Not rhetoric, ideology, or pointless panic.