Alicublog has discovered a clever little cartoon by someone named Mrs. R, in which our sexually perverted culture (represented, naturally enough, by a slutty, tattooed single mom with plenty o’ thems and those) compels an “at-risk child” to accept the Islamic critique of Western decadence, and then to become a suicide bomber.
The story is entertainingly daft. Just for starters, what drives the child to embrace Middle Eastern theology is an (alleged) ancient Egyptian perversion involving lesbians who vomit on one another. At this point, one is tempted to suggest that the storyline says more about the author’s perversion than anyone else’s, and leave it at that.
What’s really disturbing, though - because it's so ordinary - is that the cartoon sides with the terrorists’ view of America’s depravity. It’s essentially the conservative radical-chic version of Ward Churchill’s comment about the “little Eichmanns” at the WTC: Like rape victims who picked out the wrong clothes, “we” deserved what we got.
In reality, the terrorists themselves are responsible for the carnage of 9/11, and whatever their reasons may be, they’re without excuse. Those on the Right and Left who claim that “we brought it on ourselves” by being perverts or imperialists are, as Slavoj Zizek notes, avowing solidarity with the murderers rather than with their victims, a stance which he correctly calls an “ethical catastrophe.”
None of this is news, of course. Bush's handlers had barely hosed the encrusted dung off his quasi-royal nethers before Falwell and Robertson were on the TV blaming lesbians for 9/11. But in her comments section, Mrs. R makes a somewhat more arcane argument. She points out that if the “degenerate artists” of Europe hadn’t made degenerate art, they wouldn’t have run afoul of Hitler. That’s true, in a strictly logical sense (which goes to show you how much strict logic is worth). But it also suggests a somewhat too cozy relationship with Hitlerian aesthetics. Kurt Schwitters’ “Ursonate” might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but only a lunatic would feel personally affronted or endangered by it.
She goes on to complain that the Dadaists shouldn’t have “polluted” society with their perverted ideas, and that they got more or less what they deserved from Hitler for prattling about the “absurdity” of war. As it happens, Tristan Tzara joined the French Resistance in World War II, and John Heartfield was putting his life on the line to attack Hitler at a time when the American hard right was busy joining the Bund. But that’s neither here nor there. The interesting thing is that this ideology, which proposes to spread freedom across the globe, not only finds what little it comprehends of freedom to be repulsive, but also sees death by terrorism as a logical, salutary punishment for exercising artistic or sexual freedom “irresponsibly” (i.e., for exercising it, period).
I keep hearing that the Left doesn't take the threat of Islamic fundamentalism seriously. Well, I do take it seriously, and that's precisely why I don't trust the judgment of conservative hysterics who passionately identify with its hatred of secular society. Nor do I trust people who invariably explain what is, after all, a fairly straightforward problem with a glossolaliac outpouring of ahistorical scapegoating, incoherent analogy, neo-Hegelian claptrap, racialist blithering, pseudobiblical militancy, and general delirium.
Some of these people may be sincere, but none of them are serious. If they were serious, they'd make an effort to get their facts straight, if for no other reason than that it pays to know your enemy (instead of conflating "him" with everyone else on earth that you happen not to like, from Peter Singer to the Teletubbies to sexually confident women). Week after week, year after year, these people ululate about how "Islamofascists" hate us and want to kill us all, as though this were an intelligent position from which one could derive a useful strategy. The fact is, we've been calling these people "evildoers" and worse for quite some time. During that time, we've launched two wars - with no clear goals, and at an incalculable cost - and we've completely botched them both (unless our goal was to increase the appeal of anti-Western terrorism to young Muslims, which is a possibility I can't rule out).
For some reason, a number of Americans remain much more impressed by the Administration's namecalling - it's taut, elegant, alert! - than by its consistent pattern of strategic, intellectual, and moral failure. These people see fit to lecture us about seriousness, while they cut marionette capers in a blizzard of pixie dust, wearing pointy clown shoes and propeller beanies.
It makes me angry.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Posted by Phila at 11:00 PM