Monday, November 29, 2010

Near Miss

I suppose I have some semblance of standing to address the latest terrorism scare since it was focused not only on my home city, but on a portion of it, Pioneer Courthouse Square, that I frequent on an almost daily basis. In that spirit, I offer these observations:

- It's not crazy to be driven to a rage by the profusion of street urchins who clog the square with their bootless cries for spare change, though targeting the Christmas Tree ceremony for this reason is the sort of mistake an out-of-towner would make because this ceremony is one of a handful of times when annoying goth-fashioned mendicants are crowded out of the square. I don't mean to say it would have been a good idea to bomb out the square; it would have been a heinous thing to do at any time, no matter the demographic stripe of the victims.

- Portland has a Somali community? And so does Corvallis? Who knew?

- Let's lip-synch the whining: where are the moderate Muslims to condemn this attack? They're right here. They're also right here:

- It's worth observing that this Somali immigrant managed -- almost, that is -- to attack us "here" even though he had plenty of targets to attack "over there." Moreover, note that he originally came to the FBI's attention (they say) because he contacted terrorist types located in Pakistan, who evidently found it possible to contemplate attacks on targets "here" even though they have plenty of targets "over there."

- It's also worthwhile and fair to notice that there is no ongoing US occupation of Somalia to inspire or instigate the malice underlying this attempted attack.

- I hope it doesn't mean that for future MAX rides, all routes of which converge on the square, we will not have to be frisked, groped, fondled, or imaged in striking anatomical detail. 

I am glad no attack happened. I hope the deserved skepticism of the FBI will subside -- because their account turns out to be truthful, not because of successful PR push -- as ably expressed by Glenn Greenwald:

It may very well be that the FBI successfully and within legal limits arrested a dangerous criminal intent on carrying out a serious Terrorist plot that would have killed many innocent people, in which case they deserve praise.  Court-approved surveillance and use of undercover agents to infiltrate terrorist plots are legitimate tactics when used in accordance with the law.

But it may also just as easily be the case that the FBI -- as they've done many times in the past -- found some very young, impressionable, disaffected, hapless, aimless, inept loner; created a plot it then persuaded/manipulated/entrapped him to join, essentially turning him into a Terrorist; and then patted itself on the back once it arrested him for having thwarted a "Terrorist plot" which, from start to finish, was entirely the FBI's own concoction.
The hope is that justice has been done and the truth served.


god-free morals said...

Hello from the UK,

We too have this sort of infectious melodrama about 'terror plots' and seem to love to speculate about their reasoning (if any).

The difference it seems to me is that the anti-Islamic feeling in the US is externalised much more, i.e. the 'retaliation' fire that seemed just as inept. Any reason you didn't mention that in your comments?

Both the actions, the inept bomb attempt and the inept office fire, are a result of unfocused impotent rage. Ineffectual people struggling against, as the see it, 'evil' controlling powers.

Anyway, that's just my thoughts.

All the best,

Dale said...

GFM, good points. Yes, there is certainly no small share of impotent rage expressed in these rather feckless attacks.

I didn't want to dwell on it -- it's just inviting a fight of various kinds -- but I can honestly say this Pioneer Bomb plot has failed to terrorize me. Utterly. Even though I pass by and through this square daily, it registers a zero on the fright scale. I still have nothing of the visceral fear of terrorism that seems so rampant in this country, and it's so absent that I wonder how genuine it is. (On the other hand, my feelings aren't guiding on the subject, so I can't take this too far.)

Sean G said...

I mentioned to my friends the other day that the death of Leslie Neilsen affected me more than the attempted bombing down the street. Like you, I pass through the square almost every day (I live twelve blocks away) but nothing has changed for me in the days since the failed bomb. Like you, I find more inconvenience from the anarchist teens than the modest Muslim community that lives quietly among us.

Paul Sunstone said...

Dale and Sean:

Your refusal to be properly terrorized by the bomb plot demonstrates on your part a gross insensitivity to, and a lack of appreciation for, the effort of a simple, hard-working terrorist to drive you into a state of hysteria and shock.

Shame on you both for ignoring the man's honest labor!

I would even go so far as to suggest the two of you display such despicable commonsense and bravery as might fit better the model of an unkept Revolutionary of 1776 than a typical citizen of today. Get with the times, will you!

Where is your hysteria? Where is your willingness to sacrifice your last and final liberties for the promise of a little security?

Eli said...

"It's worth observing that this Somali immigrant managed -- almost, that is -- to attack us 'here' even though he had plenty of targets to attack 'over there.'"

You noticed that, did you? Unfortunately, you're wrong: you don't live in Real America, so for the relevant demographic you are in fact "over there."

Dale said...

@Eli, I can't argue with that. The People's Republic of Portland is certainly NOT Real America, and I'm doing all I can to make sure that remains so.

@Paul, as I was saying: my hatred of America, the troops, real 'mericans, our nation's traditions, and so on, is not to be doubted. Thanks for noticing!

Sean G said...

re: Portland not being "real" America.

I think you're on to something there Dale. In a sense, they were fighting them here (Little Beirut) so they don't have to fight them over there (Real America.)

Nice way to shoot holes in your own argument.