My Lecture on Stupidity
Photograph © Chip East/Reuters.
At about 3:45 this morning someone planted a bomb - our very own "IED" - outside this military recruiting station at Times Square in Manhattan. Who knows who is responsible? At this juncture the police seem not to know. You can read the initial report in The New York Times here. This is an occasion, though, where it is important for people to speak up.
I oppose the current war in Iraq. I oppose many of the practices the military and other government agencies have adopted in Afghanistan. I have said those things here many times before and will do so again. The war in Iraq is surely immoral and it is almost as surely criminal, although a definitive judgement on that will have to wait. I oppose any incipient plans to wage war with Iran. I also am opposed to the way military recruiters operate to solicit "volunteers" for the various branches of the service. However, I am no a pacifist - there are some things worth fighting for. It is simply that vague, opportunistically defined campaigns against "evil" or "terror" are not among them.
I could go on, but want to get to the point. One plausible scenario in the current episode is that the IED was planted by someone or some group that is anti-war or anti-military or anti-state some variation on that theme. If so, we should be very, very clear that this sort of action is stupid. It is counterproductive. It is dangerous. Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps this is not an "anti-war" action. However, if those responsible for the bombing consider themselves anti-war activists they need to reconsider. They need to think.
A good place to start would be to read some history. Among the clear lessons of the Viet Nam era is that critics of the war and of the various inanities of Johnson and Nixon administrations lost the cause when they started to bomb things. They killed people and caused damage to property and, in the process, simply produced more reasons for those who might themselves have questioned the war, challenged other forms of social and political injustice, or who might've come to do so, to embrace reactionary politics or to simply remain silent and distant. The bombers too offered officials at various levels a pretext to further assault civil liberties and to adopt increasingly aggressive and dangerous police practices.
The bombing in Manhattan this morning is a terrorist act. Do you think the Mayor, the Police Department, various State and Federal governments won't use it as an excuse to implement further draconian policies? Do you think a populace already assaulted by fear-mongering from multiple sources starting with the President won't see those policies as a proper response?Do you think that populace won't find the rationalizations the government offers for them persuasive? What are you thinking? Are you thinking?