Sunday, September 16, 2001

A futile plea for reason

OK, I'm going to make a plea for reason. It's futile, a waste of time, I admit it. Aside from the fact I've got, maybe, ten readers. If I had like, you know, more, it still wouldn't make any difference. But I like to hear myself talk. So I'll say this shit anyway.

America has a, well, psychotic attitude towards responsibility and blame. We basically think they're synonyms. Blame is responsibility. Responsibility is blame. If something bad happened, it's somebody's fault. Bad things should never happen! When they do, it's because bad people fucked up. We must find these bad people and punish them. That way, bad things will never happen again. Ever.

Seriously. That sounds like sarcastic, satiric overkill. It ain't. Americans think like that. When bad things happen, we want to find the scapegoat who fucked up and make them hurt. It's what we do.

Obviously, this leads to ass-covering behavior.

In the case of 9-11, we don't need that. We need to coldly, objectively analyze what happened and make sure it doesn't happen again. We don't need scapegoats. We need facts.

As sure as eggs are eggs, there's a report somewhere warning about terrorists flying planes into buildings. (I seem to recall it was the premise of a Lone Gunman episode.) There are reports about Middle Eastern dudes taking flight lessons, warnings about Osama, and jeremiads about our lax airport security procedures. With the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, it'll be clear that people in the FBI, CIA, and airport security ignored those reports. Yeah, OK.

But I'm sure there are also reports about crazed Samoans with outrigger canoes stuffed with dynamite on the Potomac trying to blow up the Jefferson Memorial. They ignored those reports too. This shit didn't happen, so it's not a problem.

9-11 happened. It's ugly shit, along the lines of the Manson Family murders. Most sane, rational people couldn't imagine this shit would happen. We gain nothing by crucifying the people who were just doing their jobs and couldn't imagine the unimaginable. Scapegoats don't solve the problem. Facts do.

To get the facts, we need to make it safe for people to tell the truth and not worry about covering their ass. I realize this kind of blatant rationality is not the American way. In this case, we should make an exception.

My plea is probably futile.

But I hope not.

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