I was watching previews on one of the Pay-Per-View channels recently and saw this movie that based on the number of palm trees and Cuban restaurants in the background, had to have been set in Miami. It’s called “Step Up Revolution” and it stars a whole bunch of people I don’t know and focuses on a premise for which I DO NOT care. As best I could tell the gist of it concerns young agile, coordinated and choreographed kids, perfectly coiffed and wearing the latest fashions worn only by the most discerning of 21st Century militants…
Apparently, the movie would have us believe that some big hotel developer wants to build the granddaddy of all hostels on some land that’s so important these dancers decide that performance art which entertained the city with flash mob demonstrations in the damndest of places, simply isn’t enough….they need ‘protest art”. And as best I could tell, this involved various impromptu stagings of the cast of “Fame”, dancing atop taxi cabs, bike racks, marquee signs and on my last nerve.
MEMBER OF THE ESTABLISHMENT: “What was that move you just made, young man?”
MILITANT HOOFER: “Well Sir, thank you for noticing my interpretive angst. That was, if I say so myself, a perfectly executed grande jété with a healthy dose of anger and just a soupçon of belligerence thrown in. You know—-for good measure!!”
Explain a furious fouetté jeté to David Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, Bobby Seale or the late Jill Johnston. I don’t think these very involved Yippies would compare the burning of the University’s admin building, the takeover of a major college’s ROTC’s HQ or disruption of the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago with any of your moves. Back in the Sixties and early Seventies when the war was raging in Southeast Asia, these guys made points with Molotov cocktails, causing an explosion here or there and inciting riots–serious riots—-the kind which resulted in brain damage for some unlucky few. You know, the real rebels who believed in The Cause so much, they “throwing their heads up against” a policeman’s billy club repeatedly.
I don’t condone this behavior, but I completely understand the need to be heard, the need to express oneself and think in some misplaced narcissistic way, that your actions can help change the world. That said, castigate me if you will, but I can wrap my head around what the Brothers Tsarnaev did at the finish line of the Boston Marathon last week. I get hate, anger, bitterness and revenge, regardless of the miscues it appears to those who don’t share the terrorists mindset. I can understand how those feelings, especially in a young person can be idealized, then radicalized. Argue if you care to, but these are basic human emotions that we all have; the ones that can and do rear their ugly heads from time to time. Save for the training and intent to randomly murder civilians.
What I DON’T understand is how that line gets crossed. I seriously wonder how anyone can take these raw emotions to such an extremely dark place and keep them there so long and so well fed, that the concept of exploding pressure cookers filled with nails, ball bearings and a body count can become normal thinking; a natural goal for which these mean and women can aspire. Maiming, death, spilled blood is what matters to them and its best if that blood is red, white AND blue. What we as a nation have done, are doing and no doubt, what we’ll continue to do, will always be the scarlet elephant in the room. We do are civilian take downs it under the guise of wartime. We do it to defeat any one who things differently and threatens said mode of thinking. And if some unintentional uh…..well, collateral damage happens to be part of the end result??? We all know that old saying: all is fair in love and war.
The Vietnam war ended in 1975 with the fall of Saigon to the Ruskies. “Good lord!”, thought the war hawks, “The dreaded Communist hun will take over and the domino effect will happen after that. Other countries will fall and go the way of Larry, The Left Leaner.”
But that didn’t happen.
What took hold of this tiny little country whose populace can create culinary magic with fish heads, was a fairly rapid rise in capitalism, as Communism fell. I do believe the country still considers itself Marxist or Leninist but it sure welcomes capitalization. It now has its first millionaire…or that would “dongianaire”. Vietnam’s currency is known as the dong (liberation dongs post 1975) and you betcha things are a hoppin’. We’re talking capitalism of the meaty Westernized variety. These days in Ho Chi Minh City (which was once called Saigon) you can see the same Starbucks, retail shops and fast food joints that dot almost every American city, large and small. There’s even a Louie Vuitton boutique. Now, that’s a lotta dong for a little bag.
Protest art, bombing civilians with pressure cookers or high-flying unmanned drones, trying to strong-arm a well-armed cop in the name of peace with your long hair and love beads proudly blowing in the tear gas are efforts that just don’t make sense to me. No, I’m not getting more liberal, it’s just that I’ve gotten old enough to see the folly in many causes that once seemed so purposed. Peace, I’m beginning to think, is really a frame of mind.
I just wish more of us could manifest it.
Beyond that, I don’t understand why we didn’t learn the lessons from September 11th.
And last week, it was like watching mini-reprisal of that dreadful…one on a non-stop, continuous loop. Just as I did 12 years ago, I watched in horror the raw, unedited video taken minutes after the bombs exploded in Boston last week. One of the very first images I saw and will always see when I close my eyes, is that of Jeff Bauman being taken by wheel chair to the race’s First Aid tent. Both legs beneath the knees had been blown off. I saw two jagged and bloodied tibias, with no sign of fibulas attached, no sign of muscle tissue either; .just tattered flaps of skin, gently waving in the breeze created by the movement of his transport.
There were other horrific sights, too; all ghastly images that ‘had’ to be created to prove a point, loudly and clearly. Dzhokhar Tsarneav claims that he and his older brother Tamerlan did it because of their intense faith in the Muslim Brotherhood and for America’s involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and all those civilian deaths in those war-torn regions. This “protest” killed four people altogether and injured nearly 200. This was revenge on a small, but effective level.
It’s all immensely tragic, no matter what you call it and yes, there will be those who’ll have the temerity to call the dead and wounded “collateral damage”. It’s interesting—Gitmo prisoners were always referred to “casualties of war”. I’m
sure they were considered “victims” from the Taliban’s perspective.
Those who died in the towers, at the Pentagon and at the field in rural Pennsylvania on that balmy September morning 12 years ago victims to us; “casualties of war” for anyone who applauded the events of that day.
Just words, I know, but try telling explaining either definition to Todd Beamer’s wife, Barbara Olsen’s husband, the Kurdish woman cradling her dead brother, gassed by rebels. Say this to the father of Martin Richard, the Boston bombing’s youngest victim, the little boy with the charming smile who wouldn’t live to see his ninth birthday.
Perhaps the specific term to be used here depends on which side of the detonation device you’re on.