Sunday, October 03, 2004

Ring, Ring

The London Times (hat tip: NGR) illustrates the futility of any real retreat from fighting terrorism. Thair Shaikh writes about how cellular phone technology is being used to capture "that perfect moment" for family and friends among a certain circle of persons.

Mobile phones are being used by young Muslims living in Britain to watch videos of hostages being beheaded by militants in Iraq. With their color screens and access to the internet, the latest generation of mobile phones are being used to download the videos after they are posted on Islamist websites. The videos can then be sent to other mobiles.

One militant has saved every available video of hostages being killed in Iraq. An Algerian in his thirties who has lived in London for almost ten years, he is a follower of Abu Hamza al-Masri, the cleric whose extradition is sought by the US ... said "for us the jihad is alive in our hands as we watch American infidels get their heads chopped off ... within a few minutes of the Americans dying last week I was watching them on my phone"

Which goes to prove that the worst job in the world isn't cleaning the floor at the peep-show but scouring the linoleum in the sacred establishment of Abu Hamza al-Masri, blessed be his name. One might criticize the conduct of the war on grounds that it should go faster, or be conducted in a different way, but it takes a special kind of obtuseness to argue the superfluity of defense against those who save the images of death agonies as a fetish. Yet that idea forms the unshakeable core of a Liberal creed which has a 50% chance of becoming American policy for the next four years.

Herbert Lottman, describing the last days of Paris before it fell to Germans in 1940 describes the strange mixture of urgency and lassitude, of obsession with long term schemes counterpointed by an indifference to the immediate in a nation that had just weeks to live. It was the perfect portrait of a country which did not know it was at war. Not really. The French Communists continued to call for "Peace Government" to mollify a Germany wronged by defeat in the First War. Parisian authorities forbade the private purchase of firearms by citizens anxious to protect themselves. Bread was rationed to 30 grams per meal at de luxe restaurants though 100 grams could be obtained at a bistro meal. The French cabinet pinned its hopes on more aircraft from neutral America as if they had any prospect of receiving any future shipments. Nero fiddled. Rome burned. When the Nazi columns finally marched into Paris, there was a widespread feeling of betrayal and a search for a scapegoat. But they had betrayed themselves.

"It was the end of the world in which Paris was supreme, in which France was alive, in which there was a breath of freedom. There was oil in the blackened air, and soot in the rain, and the wretched city was pressed upon by the lowering sky" -- Eliot Paul, The Last Time I Saw Paris

But Eliot was wrong. It was not the end of supremacy but illusion; and a reminder that you need not ask for whom the video cell phone rings; it rings for you.