Friday, April 26, 2013

Shelter In Place

The writer known as Nelson Abdullah or Oldironsides shares some insightful thoughts about the phrase "shelter in place":

http://noisyroom.net/blog/2013/04/26/some-observations-on-bostons-shelter-in-place-mentality/

He's right. I remember living in a suburb of Washington in September 2001. The phrase used was "stay inside where it's safer." But of course people who'd been herded indoors, on a day that nature clearly intended people to spend outdoors, passed the time watching television. And of course all the television networks were showing was emotional reaction--very few facts were available--endlessly regurgitated and reabsorbed emotional reactions, endless replays of the same poor soul staggering out of the same building and collapsing on the same street.

I said, "What are these people doing? What are these people, or what do they think we are, to watch someone suffering, over and over, when there's nothing we can possibly do to help, but at least a decent person wouldn't keep looking." So my husband and I turned off the television and found other things to do during the barrage of propaganda.

So we were in a position to observe a direct correlation between the amount of TV people had watched between say September 11 and September 20, 2001, and the extent to which they believed that an all-out war was appropriate and necessary. People who had been pacifists on September 10, then watched TV all week, were typically ready to bomb Iraq. I thought attacking a country known to be harboring Bin Laden might be appropriate, but had some reservations about the need for all-out war, although I always bear in mind that the President is supposed to have information I don't have or want to have. My husband remained a pacifist. On September 13 we ventured out to the train station and saw some former pacifists waving signs with messages like "Reduce Kabul to rubble" and "Palestinians danced while Americans cried."

Having the Internet at home may possibly be giving Bostonians some alternatives to watching television. This may help them keep their heads level. All of these dastardly attacks, bombings or poison letters or shootings or whatever else the evildoers may think of, are of course sources of pain, grief, rage. There are legitimate reasons and uses for these emotions. Buying into propaganda about giving up a little more liberty in the futile hope of buying a little more "safety" is not one of them.