Sunday, December 04, 2005

Ordinary Everyday Atrocities

Anyone who’s read my blog knows I’m a mad Simpsons fan. An episode from last year looked into the future when Bart and Lisa are in high school. Bart works at the Kwik-e Mart.

Apu: "I need you to make a delivery to an elderly shut in but to get there you must go through the Forbidden Zone!" [He waves his fingers in a “scary” motion.]
Bart: "Yeah yeah, which one: radioactive, smallpox, eternal midnight?"

The joke is that something frightening and horrible, the Forbidden Zone, has become so ordinary that not only are there several different Forbidden Zones but Bart is unsurprised, unimpressed, and unafraid. Indeed, life has gone on as before. What were once horrors have become mere inconveniences, like potholes.

That joke came to mind when I heard about Muriel Degauque, “Europe’s First Woman Suicide Bomber” and to my knowledge the “First Ethnic-European Suicide Bomber”. Two dubious achievements for a twice married 38 year-old Belgian.

Muriel may have been the first Western, ethnically European Muslim convert suicide bomber but she will not be the last. In a few years this will have become so common we will no longer keep count.

We were all shocked by the filmed beheading of Daniel Pearl 4 years ago. Now beheading videos don't even make headlines. Who among us even knows how many Westerners have been beheaded by jihadists? What was once stunning and noteworthy passes into routine. Evil becomes cliché.

I fear this pattern of taboo-once-broken-becomes-commonplace will continue. Today an unspeakable horror is front page news. Next year that same horror is mundane, a paragraph on page A12 next to a truck ad.

What shocks you (nerve gas? mass rape? child terrorists? cannibalism?) Imagine something so terrible it could never become 'standard', could never become an expected event. Now try to prepare yourself psychologically for its occurrence and re-occurrence. Again and again, each atrocity blurring into the next until they are simply features of the world. Like traffic. Or bad weather. Or eternal midnight.


Anonymous said...

It's seems many on the left accept these things as an uncomfortable but righteous paths to freedom. You know, like when Ken Livingstone (Mayor of London) defends the suicide bombing missions carried out by Palestinians.

Anonymous said...

Ironically this reminds me of an encounter with an ex-colleague, who prayed every day, and defended Sharia law in Saudia Arabia.

He said the Simpsons was the most immoral program on television. Though he had no qualms about chopping of opposing hands & feet for stealing (even a loaf of bread).

Papa Ray said...

Long ago and far away, I was a teenager. The first time someone shot at me I just froze. Two tours later I would kill anyone that had a gun or weapon, that was within range, that even looked like he was going to shoot at me.

In between those two points
I saw many things that destroyed my points of reference.

The horrible became mundane, the terrible, the norm.

It took me years and years to find my old values and some are still hiding away,
behind memories that just won't go away.

Americans as a whole are used to seeing death, dying, violence on tv and such. They might be shocked for a moment but most just forget it and don't even file it away.

Overload and over exposure do that to people.

Its a shame.

Papa Ray
West Texas