The magic of modern technology

Exploring the byways of Langkawi by boat

Years ago, when I first arrived in Vienna to live, I was unsettled to see quite a few swastikas spray-painted on to public structures, along with some anti-Jewish sentiments that were as vicious as they were puerile. Geez, I thought, am I coming to live in a land where everyone hankers back to the glories of the Anschluss?

Then I realised that was an unfair thought. Every single one of those graffiti might well have been painted by a single idiot. Modern technology – in the form of a good transport system and a few cans of spray paint, and a modern economic system that gives us disposable excess income, had made indeed made it perfectly possible for one person to do irreparable damage to the good name of a whole city.

I was struck by several things just lately that illustrate that thought all over again.

An irate Australian from the Islamic Council of Western Australia remarked (about a series of video lectures made by a racist-religious bigot calling children to martyrdom and jihad): “Some lousy guy stands up and calls himself a leader of the Muslims, calls himself a cleric because he can read the Quran. Why do people like me have to sit here and give an interview because every Tom, Dick and Harry gets up and makes some studid comments – and then we are called to account?” (From yesterday’s “The New Straits Times”)

And I wonder if anyone called the Pope to account, every time a Catholic bombed someone in Ireland…hmmm.

Then, over on Dec 29th’s Baghdad’s Burning, (a blog by a young Iraqui woman who has had her life ruined by the invasion), outlining a situation I predicted way, way back at the beginning of the Iraq war:

Al Qaeda? That’s laughable. Bush has effectively created more terrorists in Iraq these last 4 years than Osama could have created in 10 different terrorist camps in the distant hills of Afghanistan. Our children now play games of ‘sniper’ and ‘jihadi’, pretending that one hit an American soldier between the eyes and this one overturned a Humvee.

And I think: all it takes nowadays is a few young men with a bomb instead of a spray can. So very few can make life hell on earth for all of us. Or if you want to go a bit further back: all it takes is a few irresponsible or moronic politicians to make a mess of things, and we all suffer.

And when will humanity learn the difference between being strong and being violent?

Sure, building a good fence can keep the peace. But build a wall and lob bombs over the top, and you end up with a lot of angry people and a lot more than a spray can in mind…

I saw this so clearly back at the beginning of the war. I am still flummoxed as to why it has taken so many people so long to see what I saw so long ago.


The magic of modern technology — 5 Comments

  1. I don’t think that you were the only one to see that Iraq was going to end up here way back when Bush wanted to go in. 80% of Australians were against going in at the time too.

    I think what is interesting, and Al Gore pointed it out in a speech he gave recently in Perth, is that the voice of the many has been silenced so that only the voice of the few participate in decision making. Not the kind of democracy a random US soldier is fighting for in Iraq, surely.

  2. Both Australia and US have had an election since the war started.
    And both governments are still in power. So tell me, what were the 80% thinking? I still just don’t get it…

    And you are right. They have thrown away the democracy they used to say they were fighting for. And that perhaps is (for the US anyway)the saddest thing of all.

  3. I don’t know anyone who will admit to having voted for John Howard at the last election. How on earth did he get back in?

    They did manage to scare people with their stories of WMD. Even a year or more after the war started, many, if not most, people still believed them. People en masse are easily scared and easily fooled, it seems.

    Public opinion does seem to be turning against the warmongers, but it’s already too late for a generation of children in the Middle East who’ve grown up thinking war is normal and even desirable. Scary stuff.

    To get an perspective outside Western thinking, I like to quote the Buddha: “Hatred never ceases by hatred, but only by love. This is an eternal law.”

    Boy oh boy, I wish someone would explain that to Mr Bush and his buddies. It seems bleedin’ obvious to any thinking person.

  4. It still amazes me that both these governments were re-elected. I agree with you, Glenda. I was railing about the inevitable consequences of this war when all the pre-war posturing was going on. You didn’t have to be a great student of Middle East history and politics to know what would happen. I suspect we are in for a long period when those who have been damaged by this stupidity on both sides will respond in the way that conflict has taught them to and, as a result, the rest of us will suffer.

  5. voting systems are kinda stupid anyway. I forget what the percentage is, but a very large percentage of people can vote against a government and they’ll still remain in/get into power.

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