The six month anniversary of the shooting at the War Memorial passed last week without impinging on my consciousness. While the memory of the event remains fresh — if I consciously think of it — it hardly matters to my day to day life. Security on the Hill remains tighter but it really only amounts to showing and swiping my pass a couple of more times each day. And getting used to seeing more guns on hips or slung over shoulders. That kind of subtle terrorism that the government uses to make us afraid of the so-called real thing.
Meanwhile, some writers have withdrawn from the PEN Gala because of the award proposed for Charlie Hebdo, citing concerns over the blatant racism and Islamaphobia shown by that magazine’s cartoons. I see both sides. There is a place where free speech crosses the line — but no line is so thick that it justifies murder for crossing it. PEN’s mission in supporting free speech can’t be limited to freedom from government oppression. In any case, doesn’t ISIL and its adherents claim to be a government anyway?
See, how hard it is to walk any line these days? In Baltimore, citizens riot — or do they? Reports are mixed as to how all that got out of control. Civil and peaceful protests escalating into violence and looting because of some outliers or perhaps because of outside interference? It is doubtful we will ever get to the bottom of that — at least not in a timely way. A way that would make a difference. One thing is clear though — when you turn a blind eye to violence on one side — the police or the protesters — it is inevitable that more violence will follow. It is hard to know how to wind it down but it seems to me that it is the police as the organized and supposedly disciplined arm of the state that are in the best position to just stop making things worse.
This is the atmosphere of unfocused anxiety we all seem to live in these days, And yet, one has to wonder if it is all a set-up? The evidence from the world of facts doesn’t seem to support the hysteria of certain politicians and the media. Despite hotspots and flare-ups, the world is both a more peaceful and more prosperous place than it was — though not for everyone and not equally.
Mostly questions these days. But sometimes questions are the place to start.
Who benefits from sustaining this climate of fear? Without suggesting a conspiracy — since they are hidden and secret and there is nothing hidden about certain agendas — the beneficiaries are the same as they ever were. People who got what they got by questionable means and then cry victim when someone suggests they should give it up. Dictators, rapacious billionaires, privileged minorities — maybe they are the ones, in the words of one of their servants — who should look in the mirror.
But that’s ten minutes.