Monday, February 18, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 95


 
 









 

War on Terror parallels Hollywood

Angi Patton
Guest Columnist

It couldn't be worse: two men with something to prove to themselves, each other and the world. George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden have more in common than they know.


They may stand on opposite sides of ideology, firm and unflinching, but when it comes to resolving differences they see eye to eye and do it the old-fashioned way: They burn it. 

As director of this "wag the dog" farce, Bush has cast himself as the marshal of mayhem. With the "dead or alive" (preferably dead) bounty he placed on bin Laden's head, Bush
assumed the role of white-hat-hero facing off against a sinister, snarly and vicious villain. With a gun-slinging demeanor and a less-than-quick-on-the-draw mind, Bush rallies the
public with hyperbolic sound bites designed to deputize patriotism and hog-tie support. 

Relying on seasoned marketing executives, Sheriff Bush has brought entertainment value to the horror of war. We are, after all, a society that flocks to the theater to vicariously
partake in Rambo-type heroics where the good guy kicks butt and the bad guy is left face-down in the dirt.

When Donald Rumsfeld introduced reality into Bush's Old West fantasy, commenting that bin Laden may be impossible to find, West Wing staffers stepped in for damage control.

By the next day, Rumsfeld retracted his statement, assuring the American public that bin Laden remained a military priority. To fulfill Sheriff Bush's personal pledge to string the
boy up, we shamelessly continue to put American troops in harm's way. Bush's own military brass has complained that his quest for bin Laden's hide has compromised the war
effort. 

Our own sense of retribution has empowered Bush to expand the scope of his manhunt as he plans to gun down all enemies of the state. We might ask ourselves, "Once he gets
his man, what does Bush plan for a sequel?" Since the common-enemy scenario has proven to be a ratings boon, we should expect to see more wanted posters identifying
at-large outlaws who need "taking out."

On Sept. 19, Bush commented, "The mind-set of war must change. It's a different type of battlefield. It's a different type of war." He must have been referring to his debut as the

new kid in town. Rather than seek out strategies that are aimed at calming global tensions by focusing on the root cause of social stress, Bush is enjoying his newfound
popularity by appealing to the very cause of world suffering: ignorance. 

An annual defense budget of $300 billion wasn't enough to avert the acts of Sept. 11, yet Bush's grand plan for world peace is based on building an arsenal of anger. It is illogical
to assume a massive increase in the defense budget will foster harmony and goodwill. A scheme like this is designed to instill fear, not freedom, trepidation or tranquility,
inspiring "others to get us before we get them." 

There is no question that those who masterminded the events of Sept. 11 should be brought to justice, but we are risking our own value system if justice is not served in a way
that dignifies America. At present, Bush's curfew on civil rights and posse-led lynching bring shame to a country that prides itself on an unbiased legal system and democratic
ideals.

Winston Churchill once commented that the United States ultimately does the right thing after exhausting all other alternatives. In this instance, however, exhausting all
alternatives may result in the demise of the Old West, not to mention the annihilation of the world, commonly known as "Bushicide." 

How do we explain to our children, the future caretakers of the world, that we gleefully wish others dead? How do we explain that we live in a "do as I say, not as I do" society?
How do we put in perspective the idea of a "kinder, gentler" nation when the antics of Sheriff Bush render these words meaningless?

Bush's showdown with bin Laden only exacerbates, not eradicates, not eliminates, not exterminates the hostility that currently grips the world. Bush needs to hang up his holster
and surrender his pride; the future of the world depends on it.

Patton, an associate professor
of art, can be reached via dccampus@mail.uh.edu.


 


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