Yesterday was the anniversary of the bombing. I had forgotten. Now I know why I chanced, upon a “Yamato,“ yesterday on the Asian Movie channel,. A docudrama of the last battle of the last of the class of the largest battleships ever launched.
Quite gripping, great human interest, and all kinds of cool cgi explosions as the doomed young men fought their ship against a swarm of Douglas Avengers. Of course, some of the sailors had family and lovers in Hiroshima, and there was a post sinking scene of a surviving crewman searching for a loved one among the horrors in a casualty station there.
You’ve all read about Sadako and the paper cranes. With all sympathy for the dead and maimed of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the official Japanese construct on the War has more than a waft of victim hood when talking about the defeat. Little mention is made of Operation Olympic, the invasion of the Home Islands that would have sent the allies against an armed populace of all ages, ready to die for their parts in the thousand year narrative of Yamato, the Sun descended emperor.. Who remembers? When was the last time you saw a “Pearl Harbor Survivor“ license plate?
So what about 9/11. Jihad? And dead SEALS in Afghanistan? The issue is historical memory, collective amnesia,, altered, and even, stolen narratives,..
Nearly ten years ago a group of young men, citizens of a putative ally, legally present in our country, in order to further their studies, killed more than three thousand of our brothers and sisters. They did it in the name of Islam and they shouted Alllahu Akbar as they entered physical, but certainly not political, cultural and historical oblivion.
Our country, culture, and national psyche have been forever changed. Yet, how many really remember? I haven’t checked, but I wouldn’t be surprised if once again, the Chrysler building is illuminated green for Ramadan, Ten years ago, how many Americans had heard of Ramadan? Now the president gives official greetings replete with Arabic interjections, and praise for non existent Muslim contributions( really, Nobel prize winners? I come up with one, in Chemistry: Ahamad Zewail, an American Egyptian dual national, who, parenthetically, has interesting things to say about the impact of “traditional culture“ on scientific enquiry)
In his praise of Islamic charity, the president neglects to mention that such charity is enjoined by Islamic doctrine to help only fellow Muslims,. “Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings…”
One only has the to consult the roster of OIC members to see a roll of appalling human rights violators, and abysmally low HDI scores. Protocols and style manuals within USG prohibit the use of “Muslim”, Islamic” and “terrorist” in the same sentence A feel good narrative to scare off demons and night terrors.
The president only continues what George W. Bush “Islam is a Religion of peace” began. Imagine a narrative of World War Two with the Japanese and Germans absent.
From Minnesota, young, sometimes Americans born, Somali men travel to Somalia to find salvation and meaning in another chapter of a 1500 year old narrative of conquest and subjugation, eschewing the old narrative of assimilation and success in America,.
The daily bombings, church burnings(Nigeria: have you heard of Boko Haram?) and shootings and beheadings (Thailand: have you heard anything of the brutal assault on Buddhists in the south of this world beloved tourist playground?) are reported as “religious clashes( the BBC and Reuters are particularly egregious in this respect) Agenda-tweaked narratives. Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, daily killings and executions as muslims die for other muslims’ reading of Muhammed‘s narrative.
Last week, between one and two hundred thousand Islamists shouting for a shariah state( Of course, by now, you know what shariah means) chased the last face bookers from Tharir square in Cairo. “The Arab Spring” a vanished, and conveniently no longer cited narrative.
. And there is the enormous cost of “security.” Consider: had there been no 9/11, there would certainly have been no Afghanistan War, and perhaps Bush and Blair would have been at least somewhat circumspect about intervention in Iraq.
And no TSA. These are not the source of all our fiscal woes, but eliminate them from the picture and the balance sheet is much improved. An alternate universe narrative of a much happier non-possibility
Afghanistan: Our forces die for what: a “democratic state” fashioned on paper by “ western experts” resulting in a sharia constitution( as in Iraq) where none existed before. A impossible utopian narrative, as are all such,
Our servicewomen go veiled ( see ISAF website) and combat forces work under suicidal rules of engagement. Google “heroic/courageous restraint.” We went to that brutal land and graveyard of countless armies over the centuries to take revenge on the mastermind of 9/11, and on those who sheltered him. And stay to “build a nation. An altered narrative.
And one that might be termed post modern in its utter lack of meaning, but which can also be seen as a very old form: Unthinking hubris, and endless nemesis.
And today, Maureen Dowd writes in the NYT:
When the president is asked what it felt like to kill Osama, he’s low-key and modest, even though he personally refocused the mission to capture the 9/11 architect after W. dropped the ball.
He has told people what a thrill it was to meet SEAL Team 6 — and the dog Cairo — which pulled off the hit, noting that the men looked less young and fearsome than he expected, and more like guys working at Home Depot.
But while Obama takes the high road, his aides have made sure there are proxies to exuberantly brag on him.
The White House clearly blessed the dramatic reconstruction of the mission by Nicholas Schmidle in The New Yorker — so vividly descriptive of the SEALS’ looks, quotes and thoughts that Schmidle had to clarify after the piece was published that he had not actually talked to any of them.
“I’ll just say that the 23 SEALs on the mission that evening were not the only ones who were listening to their radio communications,” Schmidle said, answering readers’ questions in a live chat, after taking flak for leaving some with the impression that he had interviewed the heroes when he wrote in his account that it was based on “some of their recollections.”
The White House is also counting on the Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal big-screen version of the killing of bin Laden to counter Obama’s growing reputation as ineffectual.
The Sony film by the Oscar-winning pair who made “The Hurt Locker” will no doubt reflect the president’s cool, gutsy decision against shaky odds. Just as Obamaland was hoping, the movie is scheduled to open on Oct. 12, 2012 — perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost to a campaign that has grown tougher.
The moviemakers are getting top-level access to the most classified mission in history from an administration that has tried to throw more people in jail for leaking classified information than the Bush administration.
It was clear that the White House had outsourced the job of manning up the president’s image to Hollywood when Boal got welcomed to the upper echelons of the White House and the Pentagon and showed up recently — to the surprise of some military officers — at a CIA ceremony celebrating the hero SEALs.
Just like W., Obama is going for that “Mission Accomplished” glow (without the suggestive harness). At least in this president’s case, though, something has been accomplished.
Ms Dowd makes some unsupported but hardly unbelievable assertions here, and as elsewhere in the article she included the obligatory pokes at GWB, one is inclined to give her a hearing.
So, here, an appropriated narrative, and perhaps the “October Surprise” the blogosphere anticipates, but not the expected attack on Iran.
No sooner did the story break than the conspiracy lovers were at work. A black op to get rid of the witnesses to an operation that did not take out Osama, who “we all ( in some quarters ) know” had been dead for years, See “I’m not into conspiracy theories” Ann Barnhart.
Of course, they had made the same mistake I did in skimming the story: some of the dead SEALS were in the same unit, but were not the same people. Misunderstood narrative
Thus, it is well to consider the men of the Enola gay, and the SEALS down in Afghanistan, and be grateful for their true and unchanging.narratives of honor courage and service,