Posts Tagged Warfare and Conflict
In an event that has raised international tensions between hipsters and metalheads, a crew of bearded, shaggy hipsters attempted to set hijack the 70,000 tons of metal tour boat yesterday. They were beaten severely by many of the passengers and apprehended by police at the end of the cruise. The Hipster Terrorists demanded an immediate end to “songs with cookie monster vocals” and “more songs that talk about what it’s like to feel left out.” After about 20 minutes of this, enraged metalheads, led by Tankard vocalist Andreas Geremia, stormed the terrorists, taking their weapons and curb stomping four of them.
Hipster Terrorist leader Sheik Jasper Thelonius Monk claimed, through a mouth full of broken teeth, that this was the beginning of a series of “ironic terrorist attacks”. The attack, meant to be homage to the Achille Lauro hijacking in the 1980s, failed almost immediately when the metalheads realized that the hipsters were scrawny and weak. “Between the 15 of them, they had to weigh one member of Crowbar,” said Annihilator guitarist Jeff Waters, who beat several hipsters bloody with his Epiphone Annihilation-V Flying V guitar.
The Hipsters had planned to hold the ship hostage until the cruise directors agreed to allow Cobra Starship to play a 12-hour concert on the main deck. They also demanded the ship be taken to “some country where the art of Banksy and Spin Magazine are taken more seriously.” They implored their hostages to stop being sucked into the madness of consumer capitalism and shop at Urban Outfitters. The terrorists, who all had high powered AK-47 assault rifles and copies of recent books by Chuck Klosterman, were taken without a shot being fired.
Hipster terrorism is on the rise in America over the last few months. Other, less notable attacks, included holding MTV executives hostage until they played an hour straight of Vampire Weekend videos and forcing Venom to play an entire concert with out of tune instruments. However, CIA officials are not concerned. Veteran CIA agent John Nash stated in a recent interview that the “hipster terrorist phenomena will not last long. Once they realize other people are doing it, they’ll stop immediately and start hating terrorism. They’re not all that hard to figure out.”
Still, this attack could cause a major problem between rival hipster and metalhead factions. Metal Secretary of Defense and Manowar bassist Joey DeMaio believes that there is war on the horizon and that The Army of True Metal will be victorious. “If you want to know what the future looks like,” said DeMaio in a press conference this morning, “imagine a boot stepping on a hipsters face over and over again while me and the boys play “The Gods Made Heavy Metal”.
When something terrible, something truly unforgivable occurs, we often look to the language for comfort. One readymade expression that is used to comfort us in times of genuine despair and confusion is “Never Forget”. This expression has become a part of our post-9/11 mourning process. The idea behind it is that if we don’t forget the horrors of that terrible day it will have some meaning for us. Then, maybe we can use those feelings of pain and grief in order to achieve some balance in the world. We can right the wrongs of that day, on some level, through an act of national collective memory.
As comforting as that idea may be, I wonder if it really has achieved what we’ve wanted from it. It has been 10 years since that day and few have forgotten. The test of an idea is its manifestation in the world we live in. Has clinging to the memory of 9/11 made the world a better place? Have we used our memories to heal the wounds of that day? Some would believe that we have. I do not. I look out into a world where we are mired in two of the longest wars in U.S. history, into a world consumed by turmoil, into a world where chaos and strife are commonplace, into a world where we have seemingly lost all faith in the systems that have been created to help us, into a world where the center surely has not held. We have remembered, but our memory has served us poorly.
Al-Queda has been weakened significantly. If that was the goal of not forgetting, then we can argue it has been effective. But, was that all we wanted? Was disrupting the actions of a small, but vicious terrorist group all we were hoping for after that terrible day? I believe that America saw the terror of that day and wanted desperately to be part of a world where that sort of thing could not happen again, not just here, but anywhere. For a brief and fleeting moment, we stood together. Ten years later, we are a deeply polarized nation, extended far beyond our means, spiraling from one catastrophe to the next without much hope for a better world. Ten years later, we may be safer from Al-Qaeda, but as a whole, our world is an unmitigated disaster.
There is no clear consensus on what 9/11 actually meant. Some people believe that its meaning is that we need to use all means at our disposal to crush anything that resembles a threat, some people have taken the message that we should curb our military adventurism, some people have taken the message that all Muslims are evil, some have taken the message that the world should come together in spite of religious and racial differences. It is even become relatively acceptable to question whether the U.S. government itself was complicit in the horrors of that day. We all remember, but our memories have led us to a very different place.
I’m going to suggest a radically different approach to how to cope with the anniversary of 9/11. It will probably be viewed in some circles as highly disrespectful, but I assure you that no disrespect is intended. I believe that the central lesson of 9/11 is that terrible things happen to innocent people for no reason whatsoever. It is an unjust world where some things can never be explained or properly understood. Life is filled with random and capricious acts of horror that take place everyday. Our responsibility is to lessen the suffering of the living, not to compensate for the horrors inflicted upon the dead. We have remembered, but we have not healed, we have not grown and we have not made a better world for our children. For those who lost loved ones, it will be impossible to forget that day, but for the rest of us it is time to move on. We cannot create a better world from our past, but we have a greater obligation to create a better future from the world around us today.
We have lived in the looming shadows of those buildings for ten years. Maybe it is time to forget. Not from a place of ignorance or disinterest, but from a need to build a healthier, safer world. Instead of remembering the violence of the past, we can renounce the use of violence in the present. Instead of thinking of the paradise that was lost to us, we can build a new, more beautiful world out of the tools of compassion and empathy. The past is over and that day can never be changed. The present and the future extend before us filled with promise and possibility. We have cried, we have mourned, we have prayed, and we have paid our debts to the dead. It is time to move on.
The following is an account of what took place on the evening of Sunday March 14th, 1996 in New Paltz, New York. It was the most frightening night of my life…
I looked at the alarm clock. 3:14 AM. What on earth was that horrible noise?
BANG!!!!! BANG!!!!! BANG!!!!
Loud thumping from the front door. What on earth?!?!?
“AAAAARRRGHRGRHHRRAAAA!!!!! HELP ME!!!! AAAAAAAAARGHTHHTERGG!!”
BANG! BANG! BANG!
What could it be? I stared at cracked wood paneled ceiling above me. Eyes pinned open. Was someone banging on my door? Why would someone be banging on the door at 3:14 in the morning?
BANG!!! BANG!!! BANG!!!!!!
The bleariness of sleep quickly disappeared from my mind. Cobwebs melted away and were quickly replaced with horror. What on earth? ‘I should go downstairs’, I mumbled to myself.
BANG!!!! BANG!!!!! BANG!!!!!!! BANG!!!!!!!!!
I shot out of bed and grabbed the 36-ounce aluminum Easton bat from my closet. I threw a shirt on, took a deep breath and started to walk to the hallway that connected our living room to the front door. I lived in an apartment with two other people who were both out of town. It was just me. The hallway led to a creaky wooden door that probably couldn’t handle much more of the pounding that whatever was on the other side was inflicting on it.
It didn’t even sound human, whatever it was. Some filthy, snarling beast on my front porch. Why? Maybe it would go away if I…..
BANG! BANG!!!! BANG!!!!!!!
Pounding with two fists! Screeching! What was on the other side of the door?
Only feet away from the door handle. Now, the door handle in my hand. NOW!
I flung the door open and I’ll never forget what I saw.
No shirt, covered in some red substance that was either blood or strawberry syrup, dark bruises on his body, a deranged, confused expression on his face. Only feet away from me. I knew him right away from the moment my eyes met his. It was Bill Clinton.
He began looking at the sky and howling a sick, miserable shriek.
“Mr. President, are you alright?” I asked filled with astonishment and terror.
“I know…..I know……I know……I know…….FEAR!!!!!”
“Are you hurt?”
He stared blankly into my face. His body was no longer filled with electric, crazed energy. An empty vessel. Eyes filled with nothing as if he was listening to a song that only he could hear. He was covered in blood and chicken feathers.
“I know pain,” he whispered to me in a voice that projected complete sadness and desolation.
“I KNOW PAIN!!!! ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRAGHRGRHRGRGGG!!!!!!!!!” he screamed.
The next thing I knew he began running away…..howling. The way his body moved was not even human. Like some combination of an eel, a toad and a man. He disappeared into the woods on the side of the house. What had just happened? The howling faded into the distance and I was left alone in the oppressive darkness.
I tried to call the police. They told me I was crazy. I told my friends. They didn’t believe me. I tried to find news reports about the whereabouts of the President on that evening. The newspapers claimed he was in France on an official visit. I knew better.
I never have figured out what happened that night. I will probably never know. For a few moments, Clinton became a vulgar, demented beast. Maybe it was who he was all along or maybe he strayed from the light for just one evening. That night he was a monstrosity.
It’s not the screaming or the banging or the look in his eyes that I remember most. I remember his howl he let out as he disappeared as if I heard it yesterday. It was the noise an animal made when it sensed its own demise. It was the repugnant terror of existential emptiness and complete alienation all pressed together in one terrible, resonant sound. In that moment, he spoke from a horrific place that I hope I do not ever see. I never looked at him the same way again.