GABlog Generative Anthropology in the Public Sphere

July 8, 2006

No elephants around here!

Filed under: GA — ericgans @ 4:19 am

A columnist’s commemoration of the first anniversary of the London subway bombing:

I know, I know. Some of you will be shaking your heads now, saying, “Hey, give the Republican anti-terror strategy a little credit here. After all, we haven’t had another 9/11-style attack, have we?” True. But if you think the lack of another major terrorist attack means the GOP approach to fighting terror is working, remember the old joke:

A guy is throwing sawdust out the window. Another guy comes along and says, “Why are you throwing sawdust out your window?”

“To keep the elephants away,” says the first guy.

“But there are no elephants around here!”

“See? It works!”

Rosa Brooks, The Los Angeles Times, July 7, 2006

-eric gans

1 Comment »

  1. Clearly, this is the double bind in which success in the war on terror implicates us–the fact that there have been no attacks can just as easily “prove” that there was no threat as that threats were effectively countered. Even with regard to terrorist rings and plots that have been broken up, we hear that they were at an early stage, that the people conspiring were not serious, etc.–but any stage is “early” until the attack is actually set in motion, and any aspiring terrorist is likely to look a bit ridiculous until he carries off his first (and, quite often, last) attack. Might not an originary analysis of this phenomenon point us in two directions: first, toward the extraordinary interdependence of terrorist activity and elements in the targeted countries and civilization which prepare the “indictments” in accord with which the terrorists prepare their “punishment”; and, second, the utopian belief in the possibility of a world without any threats whatsoever? All this adds up to the conviction that if there are any terrorist attacks, they must be completely our fault–there are no threats except to the extent that we provoke them, so at any moment we might proceed to implement the transnational progressive agenda; since we are so provocative, though, threats are sure to intensify any day now, the world is becoming dangerouser and dangerouser. White guilt leads its congregation to flip from one position to the next, depending upon the news of the day, one’s interlocutor, etc., which is why they fervently believe that once Republicans are removed from power, all the toxic ideological CO2 emissions leading to global terrorist boiling will simply evaporate instantly. It is the instantaneous, transitionless, movement from naivete to cynicism and back of the cultist. GA, it seems to me, can argue that the seriousness with which we take any breach of peace, abrogation of norms of civility, treason, or violations of basic human solidarity, regardless of whether its likelihood of someone getting killed is .002% or 98% (indeed, before we even do the math) is a marker of our regard for the transcendent sign.

    Comment by adam — July 9, 2006 @ 8:39 pm

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