What Non-Aardvarks are Pondering
By Curtis C. Chen
[[ SNOUT || HotSheet Archive ]]
September 11, 2002
One Year Later
There are a lot of American flags around today. I put one up in my office last night. I'm wearing a flag pin, too, and blue and white clothes. If I had any kind of American uniform-- police, military, crossing guard-- I'd be wearing that today.
The dumbest bumper sticker slogan I've ever seen proclaims: "I love my country, but I fear my government." It's amazing how little most people know-- or want to know-- about how and why civilization works. You don't have a country without a government. Social organizations don't exist unless we say they do, and civilization can't exist without society.
And I don't want to hear any Libertarian bullshit about how free market economics will fix everything, or any Greenpeace crap about how we need to get back in touch with nature. Nature isn't designed to favor human beings. Nature is designed for huge, old things like stars and planets, and anything smaller than a kilometer is just a footnote. If we live by the most basic and natural laws, we'll be dead within a generation, or back to hunting and gathering.
Human civilization is hard. It's imperfect and high-maintenance and massively complicated, and it's like that because we invented it. Yes, insects and invertebrates and other mammals have communities and social structures, but only humans have cities and laws and public transportation. Only humans care that much.
I, for one, am constantly amazed at how much my species manages to do. Pretty much the entire universe is working against us-- disease, natural disasters, our own flawed little brains-- and still we survive. Floods and hurricanes destroy our homes, but we rebuild them. Our loved ones die, and we grieve, but we go on without them. Each one of us will pass away, but the human race will continue.
A uniform epitomizes the concept of social institutions. Clothes are uniquely human, and decorative clothing aspires to artistry. Uniforms are symbolic of order and unity: we don't wear this because we are cold, we wear this because we are legion and we are proud.
We all belong to something. Sometimes it's just nice to show that off. And sometimes it's necessary.
No Justice, No Peace
I respect all the people protesting and campaigning for peace today, but I can't agree. I do believe war is not the answer, but peace probably isn't the answer, either-- at least, not the kind of peace where America never retaliates against physical or political attacks.
Yes, we're a rich and powerful nation, but that doesn't mean the world has the right to treat us any differently than any other nation. Yes, we have lots of money to spend, but it's our money, and we get to choose how we spend it. And being rich doesn't mean our sovereignty is any less valid.
Every government does things it shouldn't. You want to compare indiscretions? U.S. President Bill Clinton had a tryst with an intern, which wasn't even illegal. Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic murdered hundreds of thousands of Bosnian Muslims. Tell me again which government is more hated by radical Islamic fundamentalists, and why?
As much as we might want to, we're not going to be able to talk our way out of this one. And despite what Yoda says, wars do make one great-- or memorable, at least, especially if you're a President who has trouble pronouncing long words.
But all that aside, there's no reason we shouldn't be going after the fanatics who perpetrated 9/11. There's no reason we should forgive them. There's no reason we shouldn't take them out of this world as soon as possible.
That's the only peace I want.
One Last Thing
Earlier this summer, I watched Contact again, and I had an epiphany: we've always known that religious fanatics were dangerous. We've always known that these are the people who are likely to become killers and terrorists and warmongers. We've always known this, and nobody's ever complained that these people are portrayed negatively in movies and TV, because you know what? Fuck them.
So here's the deal: I don't want racial profiling. I want religious profiling. I want the FBI to keep detailed files on every person who goes to church or subscribes to Christian cable TV or belongs to one of those kooky New Age drum circles. Organized religion in moderation can be a good thing, but when somebody loses himself in it-- watch out!
I'm not advocating mass persecution. No, no, no. This is not about lumping all people of a certain religion into one big group. This is not about generalization; it's about specificity. It's about looking at individuals, not groups, who might be prone to certain behaviors or susceptible to certain influences. Grandma Rachel, who can't get around without a cane and meets her friends at temple every Saturday and Wednesday, is not on the list. Little Joey, who just turned twenty-five, still lives with his parents, has no friends, subscribes to Guns & Ammo, and goes to confession twice a week, is on the list. In fact, he's on the short list.
I know you don't agree, and I don't care. What? I'm just talking here.
It's coming. Real Soon Now.