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Friday, March 05, 2010

Pentagon Shootings: A Quick Thought On "Crazy"

(If you don't know what is going on, here's the quick version: John Patrick Bedell showed up at the Pentagon with guns and opened fire on security at the security checkpoint prior to entry. Recent news indicates that he held particularly negative views of the U.S. government, to the point of questioning whether the Government was involved in 9/11. That's the story reduced even more so than the media is reducing it. The aforementioned most recent news is what I'd like to discuss briefly here.)

Here's my problem with the whole Pentagon ordeal:
As much as it is desirable to reduce every domestic terrorist and political dissenter (violent or otherwise) in this country to being "quacks" or "downright insane," doing so is not only adding legitimacy to a belief system desperately craving it, but also doing the opposite of what any civilized country should be doing. Bedell is one of a minority of people who believe something is true based on a handful of legitimate inaccuracies. It makes little sense to reduce the movement to insanity without doing the necessary empirical work to ascertain whether there is a modicum of truth to what they worry about day in and day out. His writing speaks for itself, actually:
This organization, like so many murderous governments throughout history, would see the sacrifice of thousands of its citizens, in an event such as the September 11 attacks, as a small cost in order to perpetuate its barbaric control
The question to be asked is: What if he's right? His dismissal as domestic lune is an attempt to circumvent the hard work needed to be done. The problem with America, to me, is that it is so unwilling to consider that the "American Dream" is a facade; we can't fathom it precisely because the idea of imagining this country (and our reality) as imperfect, perhaps even violently so, is not in the country's best interest (and certainly not in the best interest of anyone who might be responsible for the manipulations, lies, and violence that do exist (without any doubt)). Fear has become a crutch, in a way. We're conditioned to avoid that which is imparted on us as fearful. Thus, we avoid things like Marxism and Socialism and any ideas expressed therein precisely because of the fear conditioning associated with those things (never mind that we're practically a socialist nation already, what with all our much-loved social programs funded entirely by tax dollars roaming around out there).

In this case, we're being conditioned to fear an unfavorable idea, precisely because of its new association with violence and anger. The conditioning may not be obvious (and it may even be fairly light), but instead of trying to understand why Bedell did what he did, we're shoving him off as the lune. His unfavorable ideas are not worth considering, even if he shares them with many others who are not violent. Why are we so afraid to find the truth? Likewise, why do we fear thinking for ourselves? Acceptance of something should come after careful research. Otherwise, we're part and parcel of a process of elimination by dogma--the unfavorable ideas are dismissed, while the ideas that sit in line with our core beliefs are applauded for their audacity to exist. Something is wrong here (in society and in the Pentagon shootings).

Am I the only one that is bothered by the immediate assignation of a negative descriptor (not associated with action) to a man who has committed horrible crimes (for a good cause, in his assessment)? I want your opinions on this in the comments section.

To clarify: I am not suggesting that Mr. Bedell's actions are somehow justified, but it goes without saying that instead of reducing dissenters and violent people like Bedell as nuts simply because they believe in conspiracy theories, we should be trying to understand why they believe what they do and either address its empirical reality in a positive or negative light as necessary (i.e. if a legitimate concern is given, maybe we should address it culturally or governmentally; right now it seems like we're simply affirming what Bedell has said about the government in reducing him to the lune).

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