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Ignoring history

Vail Daily

The usual pattern: Wake up, check e-mail, see if the world is still there. That last used to be a joke. Poor, yes, but we all have our standard lines to punch up the routines of our lives. Over the last two and a half years it’s literally hoping that some part of the world has not been destroyed and all is still there.

It was nice, that brief period, when it seemed history was behind us. The great events that reshape the world and call on the resolve of good people to hold back an enemy whilst maintaining all that had been gained weren’t supposed to happen anymore. The Soviet threat was gone, the economy would boom forever.

Sure, there would be a blip now and again. Genocide in Rwanda? Oh well, doesn’t affect us. A few bombings here and there? Yeah, (scum) will be (scum), but they keep attacking over there; we’re safe here. Starving millions in North Korea? Hey, if they didn’t like it, they’d revolt.

We’ll work everything out eventually because we have plenty of time. Certain parts of the world will always be trouble. Just write them off as the usual. Back then we had the luxury to choose leaders whose main goal was to nod their head at the right time and follow the standard script. We no longer needed decisive people because no more big decisions about the world needed to be made. It was all settled.

Then comes New York, Washington, D.C., Flight 93, and we realize history never stopped. We were just willfully ignoring it. The string goes back. Tehran, Lebanon, Lockerbie, New York in 1993, the USS Cole, a Sbarro’s in Israel (to name just one), Khobar Towers and too many others in too many places. Sadly, it still goes. We added Bali, and now we add Madrid.

Some, hell, I’d venture most, don’t want to let go of that fiction. Go back to ignoring history. We’ll just absorb the hits as they come. To them, that’s fine. Sure they’ll be terrible, but it’s not like they’ll get any worse. It’s a static thing, in their minds, because history is done. Plus we’re awfully good at forgetting such things. Light a few candles, put a few teddy bears at makeshift memorials, mumble a few meaningless but sincere sounding stock phrases, and we’re set. The networks will protect us from the images. We’ll use words like “incident,” “catastrophe” or “tragedy” to avoid the concept of a stalking, hungry enemy.

This attitude is what John Kerry and the like are exploring. We’re not in a war, we’re just facing random, spaced-out incidents that we’ll deal with as they come.


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