Friday, January 08, 2010

Tappahannock Terror!

A few moths ago I was driving through Tappahannock, Virginia, briefly famous a few years ago when the intellgence wizards of the W clique announced that they had intercepted chatter about a Muslim terrorist thingamajig that was supposed to go down thereabouts. I was living in Hollywood at the time and I literally laughed out loud hearing this on NPR, knowing that A.) Tappahannock is of no strategic value whatsoever, and B.) that it is chock full of very well-armed, extremely zenophobic Sons of the South, which would bode ill indeed for any swarthy Madrass-graduates who arrived suddenly, bent on mischief. (The ammo store is, swear-to-god, called RedNex Sporting Goods -- Click on it! I rest my case.) What would the terrorists do there anyway, blow up the Monument to the Confederate Dead? Take over the tony girl's boarding school? Blockade the marina? Michael Moore later picked up on all this in Farenheit 911, wherein he included several interviews with some of the more beer-addled citizens who expressed understandable befuddlement about the supposed terror-plot. But, I digress.

In Tappahannock I purchased, for $3.99, at at the very weird comix/used-book/etcetera store pictured above, a DVD of a really good movie, Max, starring John Cusack, which I was today discussing with a coleague at the Ministry, prompting this Post. Max is all about an art dealer in Germany after WWI who almost becomes Adolf Hitler's dealer, almost changing the course of history. A very sumptuous and rather intelligent story, which went practically nowhere when it played theaters, in part because certain people hated the recognizeably human (though still utterly despicable) portrayal of Hitler. It seems that, for many, Hitler must be an absolute monster, ablsolutely nothing like any of us, or else we're minimizing the monumentality of His Evil. This insistence is a crucial mistake, I believe, diametrically wrong and deeply counterproductive in understanding evil.

The truth is, of course, there's a little Hitler, a little murderous megalomaniac in all of us, and what people like Hitler (and their collaborators and exploiters) do is arouse and inflame those murderous tendencies in many peoples' hearts by fearmongering/scapegoating propaganda, and then aggregate that evil in a mass movement. It's not all that difficult and it's not all that rare despite the Negative Exceptionalism with which many wish to remystify the Nazis. All you have to do is come up with a slogan stupid enough for the couch potatoes to salivate over, and yet catchy enough for them to chant ("Deutschland Uber Alles", or "Cut down the tall trees!", or "Keep government hands off my Medicare!"), nominate a putative threat or impediment to your mouthbreathing agenda or Holiest Holy, and voila! Blood runs deep in the streets.

Of course nothing like that could ever happen here. That would require some really partisan, racist, irresponsible media conglomerate with cable channels, affiliates coast-to-coast and really sociopathic on-air personalities, who are doubtless very popular among the patrons of Red Nex Sporting Goods.


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