Three prisoners in our national oubliette-manqué hanged themselves:
Military officials were not releasing the names of the detainees, but said two were Saudi Arabian nationals and one was a Yemeni national. [Rear Admiral Harry] Harris described them as having close ties to terrorist organizations in the Middle East and said their suicides were "not an act of desperation but an act of asymmetric warfare against us."We're now so fully terrified of the shadow of our national nemesis that an act of total surrender by our purported enemies must be repackaged as an attack. So terrified that the spokesmen of empire specifically reject the argument for desperation and embrace the super-villain theory, that even the prisoner's death by his own hand is a blow to the body of state. Où alliez-vous, Michel Foucault ?
I don't have any particular sociological expertise, but I do spend a lot of time in my neighborhood bars, which are treasures of Pittsburgh, each and every one of them. I can happily report that most of Ordinary America isn't very worried about our civilizational doom. The Spenglerian dreams of our court intelligentsia and the half-assed millenarianism George Dubya, Marionette to the Stars, just haven't infected the factory floor and the call center cubicle. The spasms that followed September 11, 2001 were more a reaction to an image than to an event, in part because even as our governors mimed the rituals of national healing, the indicated in plain language and action that we must, like them, accept the self-created mantle of Last Bastion of Civilization, as Europe sunk into decadence and the rest of the world cowered before the Muslim hordes. What a preposterous time it's been.
But now it's wearing thin, and Americans, who've never been so comfortable with the imperial dreams of their superiors, at least not when they have a little time to chew on the thought, increasingly turn their anxieties back to mundanities: health insurance, retirement, savings or debt . . . Bref, the same insoluble problems that have afflicted every civilization ever. No doubt there's still a balance of terror in the bank, but the account is nearer and nearer to overdrawn. I'm not sure what that means, if it's good or bad, but there it is.