Friday, December 7, 2007


From “A Day of Infamy” to ‘The Amazing Race’
(A Somewhat Feverish Rant)

It is always after the fact. In the aftermath of whatever the latest mayhem, catastrophe or headline grabbing crime, experts, pundits, academics of every stripe and a veritable legion of other commentators, appear on TV in perfusion to a nauseating degree. Their words, thoughts, scoldings and exhortations appear in the print media for days on end. It is always and ONLY after this or that has occurred that these people emerge from whatever isolated cloistered recess they normally inhabit, to grace us with their wisdom, insight and recommendations. This happens inevitably, with such sickening regularity that, by and large people tune out.

We are truly a nation, a culture, a society, on every level and strata that is reactionary. Once some odd occurrence captures our collective attention briefly, we are ripe and ready to react. We can react with the best of them. Our most glaring weakness is exposed: our inability to think ahead, to plan and prepare: to anticipate the unanticapatable. The recent examples that illustrate all too vividly this awful fact stand as stark examples of the abundant inherent failings in every sector from governmental to institutional. The shortness of our collective memory is such that we remain vulnerable, unprepared and complacent to the point of insanity.

Our unpreparedness and complacency aside, the level of after-the-fact debate, analysis and saturation media coverage serve no legitimate purpose. Two young boys walk into Columbine High School and open fire. An angry student at Virginia Tech goes on a pre-planned shooting spree bringing terror and death to that campus. We witness hurricanes, forest fires, floods and acts of barbarism disguised as terrorism. After each of these events and so many unmentioned similar ones, the airwaves are flooded with all the voices of reason. Psychiatrists explain all the signs missed by teachers, parents and peers prior to school shootings. Bullying experts loudly berate us for picking on these kids. Our own federal government, charged with our collective safety and security is exposed as being systemically, terminally inept. The intelligence community (and the untold trillions they have spent) proves to be antiquated if not obsolete; their dysfunction has cost how many lives? But former members of this committee, that agency, some think tank or other are only too eager to get on any and every news broadcast to say “I told ya’ so but ya’ didn’t listen”. They are as pathetic as those they condemn.

Now, Omaha. The predictable syndrome has manifest as usual. Let’s all try to understand and sympathize with this Hawkins guy. There is a certain value in seeking to understand the pathology, the etiology of a psyche capable of executing this behavior. However, the level of the public discourse is rarely serious; it is primarily sensational, tabloidistic crapola being passed off as ‘news’. Is it any wonder?

Societally, we are more concerned about Brittany Spears’ parental ability, American Idol contestants, this reality show or that sit-com, Brad Pitt or any other among hundreds of celebrities, entertainers, actors, musicians, athletes, glitz, shits and gloss than any actual news. This is a main reason why we find ourselves in the cultural condition and political predicaments we do. We tend not to pay attention to the things that matter until after it is far too late. This is one of the defining characteristics of our time.

How many of us realize that today is the anniversary of the attack at Pearl Harbor? How many of us will remember the significance of September 11, 2001 thirty or forty years from now? Some are already complaining about having commemorative services on the date just six years after the fact. What has substantively changed since that day, from the “lessons learned”? Basically, nothing. But that is who we are, that is who we elect and that is who our leaders are.

We drug our children because they ate victims of ADD. We excuse our co-workers because they are burdened with ADHD and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. We profess to not want to offend and pretend to not offend under the guise of political correctness yet, we remain a society deeply divided, fractious, biased almost tribal in some respects. The notion of the collective or greater good has been lost; tossed about politically, belittled and associated with liberalism. However, without some regard for that concept, we will remain a floundering people, a nation Balkanized.

We like to think of ourselves as tough, kick-ass, people. We celebrate the basest of instincts, romanticize criminality, depravity and stupidity while, in reality our military has been brought to a virtual stalemate in an asymmetrical conflict we had no clue how to conduct from the outset. But, we all support our troops; they are, after all, the greatest military force ever assembled. Maybe so. If the Cold War was on-going our military would be ready to launch decades old plans and strategies and would most likely prevail in such a conventional face-off. But, we were unable to adapt, too big, awkward, clumsy as well as arrogant, smug and complacent to even contemplate Goliath’s vulnerability to the David’s of the world. And where is Osama Bin Laden? That’s right.

This is not an indictment of the left or right, of democrats, republicans, independents, red or blue states, viewers of FOX and MSNBC. This is an American condition, this is our collective burden. This is real, all of it.

Our political candidates like to speak about our obligations to future generations, our children and our children’s children. Noble ideals, often powerful argumentative symbolism. Well, if any of that belief exists within us it had better emerge soon.

Copyright © 2007 TBC All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 2007 BronxWest Consulting

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