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Terror and Liberalism

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Terror and Liberalism

Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman

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Archive


 

The Parable of Policework

Why in the world did police chief Charles Moose repeat the sniper's requested phrase on national news? Among the demands made by John Allen Muhammad was that the police read the phrase, "We have caught the sniper like a duck in a noose." On it's own, this statement has no real value, but on a deeper level it has symbolic meaning to Muhammad and possibly, this is the frightening part, to others. Apparently, in the Cherokee Indian oral tradition there is a story about a duck in a noose. In the story,

"a rabbit brags that he can catch a duck. He throws a noose over the neck of a duck, but it flies away with the rabbit hanging on. Eventually the rabbit must let go, landing in a hollow tree stump. The conceited animal has to eat his own fur for food and is embarrassed by his appearance when he finally escapes."

The symbolism is obvious here, for Muhammed seems to suggest that his actions will produce an embarrassed and frightened America that has become that way as a result of its own brashness and boastfulness. The analogy is a hit at American attitudes towards the world and how it's perceptions about itself may not be as strong as reality would dictate.
This mind game of symbolic phrases is helpful in figuring out Muhammed's motives, but why repeat the phrase on television? Why would the police follow through on this request? At the point that they made this announcement, the police already knew who they were looking for. The hard part was complete. With over 200 detectives on the case, figuring out who was responsible was the hardest part of the case. Once they knew who they were looking for, the police work became easy and his capture was only a matter of time. Why then would the police continue to follow through on his demands? As I see it, the only reason to ever negotiate with or capitulate to a killer in this situation is if police have absolutely no idea who it might be. That was certainly not true in this case. There was no need for the police to continue to fulfill his demands once they knew his identity.
What makes this slightly more worrisome is that Muhammed has expressed anti-American sentiments and, if you are a real conspiracy theorist, you will notice that "Like A Duck In a Noose" conveniently spells out the name (in an alternative spelling, LADIN) of American public enemy number one, Osama bin Laden. While his request for this statement may have been simply motivated by the message of the analogy, his recent conversion to Islam, his sympathy for the September 11 hijackers, and the odd first-letter word game of his phrase makes the fact that police publicly followed through on this demand all the more troubling.
The police should use a little more thoughtfulness in their public message. For all we know, this statement was code to others to begin an attack elsewhere, or a message to bin Laden himself that he has foot soldiers not associated with Al-Qaeda who are willing to carry on the goals of his words of hate. Negotiation is a method of last resort when dealing with murderers of this kind. Once his cover was broken, his demands should have been dropped from consideration. Police should not become the blackmailed voiceboxes of terrorist communication.


  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 4:38:00 PM


Friday, October 25, 2002  

 

First Things First

Terror doesn't only come from abroad. The "war on terror," has focused entirely on Islamic fundamentalism. Meanwhile it has failed to recognize the home grown terror that is protected, and even encouraged by certain groups, right here in America. What is protecting this method of terror? The second amendment.
Before we tackle the problem of Saddam Hussein, let's take a look at the flaws of our society and make our nation safe from the inside out and not vice-versa.
Terror doesn't always sing praises to Allah. Remember that.


  posted by Kris Lofgren @ 4:07:00 PM


Monday, October 21, 2002