Monday, May 3, 2010

White Men Can't Bomb?

There was some chatter over the Internet yesterday to the effect that we should all be relieved to learn that a white man was observed walking away from the now infamous smoking Nissan Pathfinder at Times Square in New York. What is that all about? Are we to conclude that white men can't bomb?

Had the vehicle imploded, the victims would be just as dead this afternoon. Those injured would be as maimed today whether the constructor of the explosive device was black, brown or even blue.

Of course, the failed detonation did attract a claim of responsibility: Al Qaeda in Pakistan is chest-thumping over this latest failure. Somehow, I suspect that if al Qaeda were involved the device would have been better constructed. There was a Beavis and Butthead sort of character to the would-be bomb, according to press reports in The New York Times.

Apparently, the Pathfinder had Connecticut license plates, and so my home state is now a potential base for this terrorist. Who is to say a man with a grudge could not have sprouted right here and that this man targeted his own government, his own society?

I watched the opening episode of the History Channel's Story of Us, a sweeping history of the our history narrated in the sort of breath-taking baritone usually reserved for narrations about the mating habits of seals. The series is meant to uplift, but it is so slick. The Bank of America spent lavishly on advertisements for the series. Its ads follow the same slick format and are almost hard to distinguish from the show itself. It is downright Orwellian.

When the Boston Massacre was portrayed, I watched with keen interest. A handful of British soldiers fired into a mob of angry protesters in Boston in 1770. Five colonists were left dead. One of my areas of expertise in the law is the use of force by police. As I watched the Boston Massacre I came to the depressing realization that if the estates of any of those killed in Boston that night had brought suit against police officers behaving as did the British, their suits would not stand a chance of making it to a jury. A trial judge would grant qualified immunity to the shooters.

We the people endure daily insults and aggrandizements from government that drove the colonists to rebellion. Like sheep, we simply bleat and shuffle on as the courts retreat from a robust sense of our rights as citizens. And then when potential violence comes home to roost here we look abroad, wondering what foreigner would be so vile as to seek to resort to terror here.

Are we really so naive as to believe that white men can't bomb? We once were a nation of incendiaries. Watching events in New York City make me wonder whether there are homegrown incendiaries in our midst now.