Boston and the danger

One thing is not escaping anyone about the Boston attack and the Tsarnaev brothers: the story keeps changing — almost every aspect of it. The last thing I read is that the Chinese man, whose black  Mercedes SUV (these details indeed are important!) was hijacked, a man who goes by the nickname of “Danny” and could be anyone or no one, was not let free by the two brothers, but escaped. The story builds up like an action movie at times; other times, it unfolds like a Dostoevsky novel. “Danny” has become a pivotal figure in the increasingly confusing plot as the link between Boston and New York. Mayor Bloomberg and the chief of his “private army,” NYPD commissioner Raymond Kelly, can now confidently say that the two brothers were planning their next attack in Times Square. As additional proof, we are provided with the pictures of the younger brother, Dzhokhar, and some of his friends in Times Square not long ago. We now understand that anything going from the Stop-and-Frisk Law to the increasing surveillance (perhaps soon even by drones) of the city population as a whole and of the Muslim communities in particular (the latter having been under NYPD surveillance even far from its jurisdiction, in New Jersey and Connecticut) is indeed fully justified. Just like the Bostonians cheering on the night of Dzhokhar’s arrest, we ought to thank the police for keeping us safe. Indeed, in New York we also need to thank its owner, Mayor Bloomberg, for his farsighted vision.

This and other changes in the way the story is given for public consumption have already fueled many versions of the usual, and unhelpful, conspiracy theory. But one thing seems to be taking shape, whose character is unsettling, whose possible outcome is very dangerous: a media war, an institutional informational warfare tending to confuse and destabilize everybody’s daily life. We are then bombarded with patently false and contradictory bits of information. We are given an account of a segment of the story, and then a picture is circulated, which obviously contradicts that account (think about the badly wounded Dzhokhar who is then seen coming out of the boat on his own; the armed Dzhokhar who then appears, and is portrayed as being, not armed at all at the time of his arrest). But no one feels it necessary, or a matter of decency, to try to account for the inconsistency. The aim seems to be the production of a culture of fear of a type much greater than the one we already have now. It is a twisted Hobbesian or Schmittian scheme: give up your rights, freedoms, and powers. Let the sovereign rule; let him decide.

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