I haven't seen Elizabeth Nickson's piece, but I'm not sure I want to.
I'm absolutely certain I'd share Kenna's outrage and shock, but, well,
the _National Past_ (as Dalton Camp regularly calls it) preaches to the
> Please, let's answer this!
I wish that people who read the _NP_ would be open to a reasonable
answer, but I hold no such hope. My first, um, rational reaction to the
terrible news -- after all the real first ones -- was to think that
this is the end of the open (or at least relatively open) society we've
known, that this is _really_ a blow to democracy (and not in the sense
that Dubya used the phrase).
Nickerson's column is a fairly early move in what I see as a pervasive
strategy in response to September 11: to grab the agenda for the
authoritarians, the simple-solutionists, the morality-mongers. Attacks
on academics are not the greatest of my worries.
The frame of discourse is shifted for everybody. It's now almost
impossible to say in public (for instance) that the rubble of the World
Trade Center really doesn't represent nearly as much suffering as the
rubble of cities after World War II, or that the body count is going to
be trivial compared to that in Rwanda or even the Balkans, or that there
are lots of perfectly comprehensible -- although not, perhaps,
forgiveness-engendering -- reasons for someone whose life and culture
have been profoundly and irreparably damaged and who sees that at least
the US is centrally implicated (and even more that the US responds to
being stranded in Vegas in the air travel shutdown by buying an SUV to
drive home in), to think it makes perfect sense to smash an airliner
into the World Trade Center.
At the moment, I'm sad to say, folks like Nickerson have the high
ground. I think they're going to have it for some time to come.
Russell A. Hunt __|~_)_ __)_|~_ Department of English
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Fredericton, New Brunswick | )____) | FAX: (506) 450-9615
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