Well, anything resembling vacation has now drawn to a close for me. The last of the monkeys left The Jungle (a.k.a. Luke'n'Kim's house on the Oakland/Berkeley border) this morning, and it's back to life, back to reality here in the Bay. I like the scenery here; the smell of the air, the palm trees. I bought some sunglasses and an old rusty french road bike -- the last of my disposable income for a while. The only missing piece is a coffee grinder. I have a big bag of beans courtesy of my mother, but the only means for preparing them in this kitchen is a mideval mortar and pestle set. Anyone who doubts the debilitating addictive force that caffeine can exude should have seen me this morning, pesling away to get my AM fix.
And so the Summer of the Hassle rolls on; hopefully on smoother tracks now. Last night watched films and ate pizza; kind of a suitable comedown from the past three weeks frenetic pace. The 25th Hour (a.k.a. "Spike Lee Loves America!") was enjoyable, with some really stellar moments. Lee does have an amazing appreciation for, understanding of, and ability to convey the spirit of New York City. The movie caused me to miss it quite a bit; the energy, the jive, the fact that it's the capital of the world, that it is the fucking future writ large: steaming, humping, race-mixing, debauchering, loving, nurturing bitch-goddess and everything. I think she's due for a big comeback in the next few years -- a little less yupification and a lot more community, please.
It made me think a little about 9-11 again, which I haven'd done in a long time, and I hit upon what might be a good meme for describing terrorism and how to combat it; imagine terrorism as a really really egregious hate crime. Think about it: Al-Qaeda blowing up the World Trade Center has a lot more in common with KKK-people burning black churchs than it does with the Nipponese attacking Pearl Harbor. It wasn't a tactical act of war, it was an act of symbolism, though nontheless deadly or tragic in its direct consequence. Pearl Harbor was about the destruction of a fleet and a strategic oil reserve and emperial dominion over the Pacific rim. The attack on the WTC was a massive, homicidal "fuck you!"
The means of addressing and preventing said events are very different, and they also map with the analogy. The threat of invasion by foreign power can be deterred and contained though having a strong defense network; terrorism (be it the international or local church-arson variety) cannot be addressed in this way. In fact, it cannot be defended against in any conventional fashion short of instituting a complete police, and planting the seeds of a guerrilla/civil war. A free society is forever vulnerable, which is what makes freedom so valuable and precious. It don't come easy, and if you want to keep it you have to be strong enough to know that bad people will be able to get to you no matter how many walls you build. If you doubt this I invite you to examine the measures Israel has taken to defend itself from terrorism through conventional means. Ain't working so hot, eh?
The only way to be safer from terrorism is to make sure people don't feel like doing it; to make sure that people don't really want to burn down black churches or symbolic skyscrapers, and that even if they do it is such a universally dispised act that there's nothing to be gained by doing it. We were very close to that with 9-11; but the actions taken by this administration since then have squandered the opportunity to cement world opinion against any such acts. Perhaps all is not yet lost. Perhaps we can change our tune nationally and plead temporary insanity due to extreme grief and stress. Perhaps we can come clean to the international community and really get down to the business of dealing with out issues.
Terrorists (like church-burners) need to be hauled before the light of justice so that all can understand and agree upon their guilt. It is the only way to eradicate them as individuals without prepetuating the crimes they commit. We must create a global legal framework that unites the entire civilized world, every nation and every people, against terrorism, but here's a free clue: unilateral invasion of unrelated nations isn't it. What the US has done in Iraq vis-a-vis the "War on Terror" would be like the NAACP and the FBI teaming up and going down to the South in response to a church burning and busting every hunting club, shitkicker bar and antique shop that might have any confederate-era paraphernalia. Sure you're nominally going after mostly "bad guys," but in doing so with little specific just cause and in an agressive and indiscriminate fashion, you only inflame the issues you seek to address. Such beligerance invites reciprocity.
Maybe I'll develop that a little more later. There are some flaws (e.g. the power dynamic doesn't map), but I think the core notion might be a keeper. Anyway, Spike Lee loves New York City, as do almost all free people in the world. As do I. I'm glad to be here in California, but I'm ready for another go-round when I return.