Friday, August 11, 2006

Help Mom! There's an Al-Qaeda Under My Bed!

So I wake up yesterday morning and turn on CNN and, lo and behold, there's a great hub and bub about terrorism and toothpaste and such and the like. "Ballocks" I think to myself, realizing that I had to fly back home from New Mexico in this mess. I continue to listen to the talking heads as I go about my packing routine, and I start to notice something really quite strange about the coverage. They're going on and on and on about whether this plot could be tied to Al-Qaeda or not. I mean sure, that's probably a relevant bit of information and worthy of discussion, but they just kept hammering away at the topic with unusual vigor, talking about what officials were saying officially and what they were saying unofficially and all that jazz. It started me wondering why it was so important to tie this latest incident back to Al-Qaeda. Is it not still terrorism, regardless of which particular group is actually responsible? How come no one was going around breathless asking if the plot could be traced back to Jamaat Islamia or The Muslim Brotherhood? It makes me think that Al-Qaeda has become more than just a terrorist organization. The name "Al-Qaeda" has become decoupled from the groups' objective existance; it has now become a sort of bogey-man to which all manner of evils can be attributed. It struck me that "Al-Qaeda" has come to serve the same function as "communists" or "Emmanuel Goldstein", though I quickly found out that I'm not the first person to make this observation. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out in the long run. So far the evidence pointing to Al-Qaeda seems to amount to "this looks like something Al-Qaeda tried to do in the past". That, and then there's this guy who went to Pakistan. Really, you kind of get the feeling that the press is playing "7 degrees of Bin Laden".

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