Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Same Old Clichés: Musings on the Boston Marathon Bombings...

According to news reports the cops and the FBI have finally got their man in Boston, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who along with his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed in a shootout in Cambridge, Mass, are accused of the bombings that killed three and maimed one hundred during the Boston Marathon this April. Dzokhar Tsarnaev was finally captured after the lock down that had shut down Boston and suburbs like Watertown, where the authorities thought Dzokhar was hiding and they were almost right, was lifted. According to NPR with the lock down lifted a man living on the edge of Watertown went outside to his back yard and found blood on a boat he apparently had stored there. He immediately called the authorities and long story short, Dzokhar was found and eventually captured. The moral of this tale: despite turning much of Boston into a kind of a war zone to find and capture this nineteen year old American who had never, according to news reports, had training in guerrilla tactics it was a bloke going into his backyard, something he was asked not to do by police for almost twenty hours, that led to the capture of America's most famous fugitive. Lo-fi, in other words, is often the best fi.

Also according to reports the younger Tsarnaev wasn't read his Miranda rights. The authorities are going to use the public safety exception clause in the law, if reports are accurate, so they can interrogate the "suspect". The "suspect" is an American citizen so one wonders whether those who, for instance, worry about the slippery slope a national gun registry might bring--too much government power and too much 1984--are going to raise concerned voices about the authorities not reading this now much hated "perp" his Miranda rights or Republican calls for Dzokhar to be treated as an "enemy combatant", that wonderfully bizarre term that gives new meaning to the surrealism of government speak. Personally, I doubt that they will. The anti-government ditto heads love to whinge about govenment tyranny accept when it comes to law enforcement and the military. I don't hear them, for instance, arguing that there is a slippery slope from the police practise of taking DNA samples from those taken into police custody even if they are not guilty to what potentially amounts to a national registry of potentially every American's biology.

On another matter related to the Boston Marathon bombings, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and Dzokhar Tsarnaev, as everyone knows rumours, often unsubstantiated rumours, often inaccurate rumours, unsubstantiated and inaccurate rumours sometimes spread by "news" organisitions--see the cover of Rupert Murdoch's wretched New York Post above which is practising its usual brand of semi-factual shock and awe tabloid journalism--who want to be the first to get the story or who want to milk the story for all it is worth, and online social media sites, the lynch mobs of the digital age, rumours which play into emotional nationalisms or ethnocentrisms and which have spread like wildfire across the United States and even the world thanks, in particular, to the brave new worlds of the 24-7 cable news channels and the World Wide Web. One of the most fascinating of these crazy rumours spreading through the populace I have run across is the apparent confusion of the Czech Republic with Chechnya by many geographically and historically illiterate Americans.

This unfortunate confusion of the Czech Republic with Chechnya has gone so far that the Czech Republic's Ambassador to the United States, Petr Gandalovič, has been forced to issue an official statement relating to this inaccurate conflation:

"As many I was deeply shocked by the tragedy that occurred in Boston earlier this month. It was a stark reminder of the fact that any of us could be a victim of senseless violence anywhere at any moment.

As more information on the origin of the alleged perpetrators is coming to light, I am concerned to note in the social media a most unfortunate misunderstanding in this respect. The Czech Republic and Chechnya are two very different entities - the Czech Republic is a Central European country; Chechnya is a part of the Russian Federation.

As the President of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman noted in his message to President Obama, the Czech Republic is an active and reliable partner of the United States in the fight against terrorism. We are determined to stand side by side with our allies in this respect, there is no doubt about that."

In order to clear up this confusion and misunderstanding I am going to do something I have never done on my blog before. I am going to ask those of you out there in cyberspace for your help in clearing up this unfortunate confusion of the Czech Republic and Chechnya. It will be brought to you by the letter C. I urge all of you in the geographical and historical know out there in cyberspace to explain to the poor poor pitiful thees who don't know the difference between the Czech Republic and Chechnya that they can google these two nouns and find an article which explains that these two nations are distinct and different and have different histories. Most articles on the Czech Republic and Chechnya, a Muslim dominated region of Russia which the Russian Empire took control of in the nineteenth century (the great Russian novelist Lev Tolstoy wrote about this at the time), the second great age of European and the first great age of Western colonialism, will even have maps which show the geographical and spatial differences between the two nations. Don't forget after you have helped these poor braindead souls (Gogol pun intended) to welcome them to the brave new digital and online revolution. And don't forget to explain to these intellectually challenged numbskulls that the Czech Republic is the one that builds walls around Gypsy communities to keep pure-blood (hopefully that doesn't mean German blood) Czechs safe, that Chechnya is the region that Russia has been fighting a war, a brutal, viscous, and repressive war, in since the 1990s, and that a Sikh is not a Muslim.

I want to end this blog with a question: Is American life even more clichéd and formulaic than your standard genre operating kiddie korn Hollywood film? I am beginning to think it is.

Postscript:
So the charges filed in federal court against the Boston Bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, after he was finally Mirandised while he lay in his hospital bed, include, according to the Guardian, "one count of using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction – an improvised explosive device or IED – against persons and property within the United States resulting in death, and one count of malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device, resulting in death". So, in the increasingly bizarre and surreal world of Americangovernmentese, the same Yankgovspeak that gave us the seemingly innocuous "collateral damage" as a synonym for mass murder, is now saying that an IED constitutes a "weapon of mass destruction". Does this mean that fertiliser plants , like the one that blew up in West, Texas, killed 14, injured some 200, and destroyed significant amounts of sacred property can now be classified as a "weapon of mass destruction"? Does it mean that the US can now invade any country with IED's, those weapon of mass destruction" that constitute a "threat" to the US, that other Orwelian terms so beloved by the US government, one that turns a country like Iraq with non-nuclear missiles that could at the time barely hit Israel, into a "threat" to the United States and, to top the surreal absurdity of it all off, millions of Americans believed such tripe? Does this mean that anyone who uses an IED against that most holy of holies, American property, and American citizens, of course we can't forget them, even if they are American, might potentially end up being categorised and treated as an "enemy combatant" under a governmental regime that is even less sympathetic to the rule of law than the Obama administration? Whatever it means it is clear that all of us now live in the world of big bureaucracyspeak and most Americans don't seem to care.

Speaking of surreal speak, aren't corporations in the US "people"? Aren't many fertiliser plants owned by corporations? Can't we try these corporations as people when their fertiliser plants explode, when their fertiliser plant "weapons of mass destruction" kill, maim, and destroy property causing "terror" in the process? Oops, I forgot that corporations have "limited liability" thanks, at least in part, to the influence of business and business ideology on the US government and legal system. Can I as a real biological human get me some of that limited liability? I doubt it.

Update:
It turns out that I was a bit hasty in comparing and contrasting the Bush administration the and Obama administration in terms of their commitment to the rule of law. According to recent news reports it was a federal magistrate who apparently interrupted the FBI's interrogation of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and read Dzokhar his rights. And the FBI apparently was not happy he did, a manipulation of the "public safety exception" since the FBI did not Mirandise Dzohkar even after it became clear that public safety was no longer an issue according to authorities. Additionally at least one newspaper is reporting that Dzhokhar, who is an American citizen remember, was not given provided a lawyer despite repeatedly asking for one. So much for the rule of law. Welcome back my friends to the Big Brother state war always brings in its wake.

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