Tuesday, March 16, 2004

RE: Europe, Lost.

Jack Birnbaum at Tech Central Station has written an eloquent bit about the aftermath of the Madrid bombings. Simply, it's titled "Europe, Lost". Birnbaum starts with a quote from Churchill:

"Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonor. They chose dishonor. They will have war."

-- Winston Churchill after the Munich conference, 1938.

He then goes on to elaborate upon the memes that have found their way around the world. What is a meme? From Birnbaum:
A meme. A unit of cultural information, transmitted around the world, from media outlet to politician and back again, until it has permeated the collective consciousness so that it is just known to be true, a starting point for thought rather than something to be questioned.

Some Examples are:

Bush is the problem. (A convenient stand-in for America, which is more uncomfortable for some to criticize.)

The war in Iraq brought this on. (Not the war on terror, that we all agree on. Just that particular mass-murdering dictator removed, just that particular crooked oil-for-food program exposed.)

(Fill in the blank) lied! (And how long did it take for that part of the meme to start circulating after the carnage in Madrid?)

If only not for Bush and Iraq, they would leave us alone. If not for that, our children would be safe.

Birnbaum concludes:

So they have their amulet, the Spanish. They can take their comfort in the meme they share with so many others. I wish them well, from the depth of my being, and I hope they never again have to see the body parts of their loved ones scattered around their cities like so many Israelis. And I know it isn't all of them, but just enough of them to turn an election. But they have made this clear to the world: the threat of indiscriminate terror can affect the outcome of a democratic election. This is not a small thing. This is a major defeat in the war for civilization.

They have chosen dishonor. And I fear what we will all have.

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