One to Gag On

Brian Cook

You might think that the London police's extrajudicial assassination of Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent Brazillian electrician shot eight times while on his way to work, would perhaps give us a moment of pause as to just how justly we are conducting ourselves in the "war on terror." Well, think again. Today's Chicago Tribune featured this unsigned, morally cretinous piece of filth, apparently meant to be some kind of editorial "think-piece." It's an unsettling thought that some nitwit gets to sit in a nice office on Michigan Avenue and be handsomely renumerated for churning out mind-numbing shite like this. (Just picture the unsavory bastard, stroking his chin and nodding solemnly, as he finishes stringing together his necklace of pearl-perfect platitudes.) It's nothing a gifted eight-year-old couldn't do, but for the sake of posterity, let's parse its really offending passages, leaving the rest of its inanity to decompose like the horseshit that it is. Undoubtedly, its most despicable passage is this implicit attempt to place some of the blame of the murder on the victim himself: "No one will ever know why de Menezes failed to heed police instructions, especially given the perilous security situation facing London…But he could not have been unaware. The deadly drama was played out in a city on edge." Never mind, for now, the fact that, according to eyewitnesses, the police did not identify themselves as such; apparently in Tribuneland, "given the perilous security situation in London," failure to heed police instructions makes murder, if not quite acceptable, then at least more understandable. Having properly explained how the unpleasantness occurred, Master Tribune then goes on to laud the "admirable speed" with which British politicians apologized for this lawless act, noting with particular approval how Tony Blair "struck the right tone when he said 'we are all desperately sorry for the death of an innocent person, and I understand entirely the feelings of the young man's family.'" Now, I understand how the "right tone" is definitely important when apologizing for an act that is utterly contemptuous of society, human rights and the principles of law and justice. I mean, the wrong tone? No, no, no. That just wouldn't do at all. But I'm just not sure if Tony really "entirely" understands the feelings of de Menezes' family. Maybe some cops should fire 7 bullets into his son Euan's head, just to make his understanding truly "entire." After all, according to the Trib, to win the war on terror, our cops "will have to take great risks…as they follow shoot-to-kill orders. Sometimes, they will be wrong." Yup, of course. It goes without saying. Nobody's perfect. And to defeat the evil-doers who would kill the state's innocent civilians, sometimes the state will have to kill its own innocent civilians. That's the horizon of our world, folks. Mistakes will be made, so don't sweat being collateral damage. Just go about your day, maybe humming to yourself a lovely mantra: "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori."

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Brian Cook was an editor at In These Times from 2003 to 2009. He now works on the editorial staff of Playboy magazine.
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