Thursday, June 22, 2006

Finally, Something That Can Stop the Suicide Bombers 

As I'm sure we've all been told by now, you can't stop suicide bombers in Israel, Iraq, or anywhere else, by military force. Fighting back, attacking the suicide bombers' support or command infrastructure, or even the suicide bombers themselves, well, it only creates more suicide bombers -- which even Sean Penn or Tim Robbins could tell you is a stupid thing to do.

We should also all be well aware of the folly of restricting terrorist access to banking services -- oops, sorry, of restricting "terrorist" access to banking services -- trying to stop the funding for their explosives and family-support martyrs' stipends. This only denies innocents and the not-yet guilty their civil liberties, turning potential friends into semtex-wired enemies, and renders us no better than the terrorists themselves, if not worse. And of course, it won't work either, since the despair of the bombers is so great that they will do whatever it takes, even if it means living a life of great poverty in order to afford the necessary explosives, velcro vests, and farewell video recording equipment.

Checkpoints, curfews, security searches? Same thing. All bad ideas. If we reduce liberty at all in the name of fighting terror -- as opposed to reducing liberty in the name of not hurting feelings -- we will only lose.

The more blood-thirsty and anti-goodness among us may be tempted to conclude that all is therefore lost -- that there is no way to fight the suicide bombing tactic, which is depressing because we do love fighting. A proper self-detonation expresses such a deep seated and intensely held sentiment on the part of the self-detonator that we have no alternative but to honor that suicidal sentiment by surrendering to it. Then all will be well.

But, ladies and gentleman, I'm here to pass on some good news. Do not conclude that there is no alternative but yielding to a Hollywood-pacifist strategy of surrender. For apparently there are other ways of keeping the suicide bombers from their aspirations of chunkdom. And ironically enough, the miraculous answer comes from Hollywood itself in the form of "Don't Blow Yourself Up" Public Service Announcements! PSA's. Commercials. Read and learn:

Public service announcements have changed a lot since that foreboding culinary lesson [of the frying egg illustrating Your Brain on Drugs]. They now include exploding cars, flying Matrix-style stuntmen and exceedingly dire messages like 'Don't Suicide Bomb.'
Dire messages indeed. But if that is what it takes, let's all take a deep breath together and forge ahead.

A new, American-made PSA aimed at discouraging these deadly attacks is currently in production. The ad is slated to air as a 60-second spot on Iraqi television this summer.
Notice how elegantly we are able to temper the direness of the message by merely discouraging suicide bombing rather than condemning it, or forbidding it, or any other such counter-productive heavy-handedness.

Of course maybe we wouldn't be in this jam at all if we had restricted our heavy-handedness to begin with -- by not running around the world fighting with everyone just because they entertain aspirations of destroying America. Who doesn't fantasize about that, from time to time? Indeed, these PSAs will require all the savvy and nuanced sophistication Hollywood and its teams of anti-terrorism experts can muster, if they are to overcome the mess left behind by the US military.

It's a tall order considering that post-occupation Iraq is now rife with militant groups and plagued by increasing sectarian violence. In March alone there were an estimated 175 suicide bombings. There’s also the question of just who will be able to see the PSA. The cost of owning a TV is often prohibitive for the average Iraqi, and those who are affluent enough to get Iraq’s state-sponsored programs are not always thrilled by what they’re seeing. Though there is the new, post-Saddam Iraqi Media Network (IMN), its $6-million monthly budget is provided by the United States and many local viewers feel that its positive reports on the U.S.-led war are simply propaganda so they turn to satellite TV instead. Those who are lucky enough to obtain a satellite dish can receive programs from all over the world as well as independent, Arab-run news channels like Al-Jazeera. And will the type of young man drawn to extremist groups be likely to sit around watching TV?
That is why American PSAs are so desperately needed: because prospective suicidal jihadists just don't feel they can trust their own Iraqi media if there is any Bush-sponsored cash behind it. Fortunately, Hollywood is not Bush-sponsored territory, and of course any reasonable, rational, well-intentioned prospective suicidal jihadist will appreciate that distinction when viewing these PSAs.

Can we fascist, right-wing, chickenhawk bloggers all finally issue a heartfelt apology to the victims of Bush Derangement Syndrome? It should now be clear that the very symptoms we have so single-mindedly criticized and harped on, just because they seemed to jeopardize America's war effort and fighting spirt, are in fact our greatest strength -- they give us CREDIBILITY with the suicide bombers who hate us. And that's all good.

"We all watch it [the results of "terrorism"]  on the evening news," says 900 Frames partner Drew Plotkin, "but we're using a 120-camera set up that was used in films like 'The Matrix.' It gives a frozen-in-time feeling. Instead of seeing a flash and ambulances racing to the scene, we're showing the street right before the attack, during and right after. That will communicate the horror, the carnage, the human toll these attacks take on innocent civilians."
matrix_bombingI agree 100% that prospective suicide bombers and the leaders who recruit them will probably get a little verklempt from such a detailed, slow-motion stop-action depiction of mass infidel carnage. And how could that not have a powerful effect on recruitment?

Maybe we can show these things in Europe and Canada too, as a sort of preventative medicine. Hey, even if it saves only one life, so long as it's not the life of an American war-monger, it's worth it.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: