Over fifty years ago, the Martiniquian anticolonial activist Aime Cesaire wrote: … each time a head is cut off or an eye put out in Vietnam and in France they accept the fact, each time a little girl is raped and in France they accept the fact, each time a Madagascan is tortured and in France they accept the fact, civilization acquires another dead weight . . . a gangrene sets. . . ” Substitute France for the US today and you have a completely rotting body politic, a diseased nation desperately in need of cure.
Unfortunately, none of our presidential front runners smell the moral rot, let alone think of curing it. Asked whether she would authorize the dropping of bombs over a civilian area if she knew Osama was there, Democratic front runner, Hillary said she would as long as there was minimum “collateral damage.” Perhaps that euphemism for killing and maiming innocent civilians, including children suggests that the title “It Takes a Village” should be changed to “It Takes A Bomb.” Children in the US should be taught how the destruction of the anti-Christ (Osama) requires a no holds barred policy of smart bombing any area suspected of being an anti-Christ hideout. Children killed in the bombing will ascend to rapture and the ones left behind will enjoy life without the anti-Christ.
The Iraqi born Chicago- area artist, Wafaa Bilal, brilliantly set up a modest proposal to let all Americans engage in a virtual-yet-real shooting of Iraqis. Confining himself for a month in a room at Flatfile Galleries, Bilal hooked a paintball gun to a Web camera, a computer and motor, inviting all to shoot at him twenty-four hours a day. From the comfort of their homes, as if playing video games, viewers could enjoy shooting the unarmed Bilal. I suggest that “It Takes a Bomb” include an interactive video allowing children to track “terrorist” hideouts and take shots at flesh and blood Iraqis. (This would be a major advance over the free military computer game, America’s Army in which the combat scenes against America’s swarthy, unshaven enemies are a bit too clean.) No points off for collateral damage. And how about keeping score? A national video-tally network of bodies shot, with prizes for the city coming closest to smoking out Osama.
The gun at Bilal’s studio is silent from June 5th through the 15th but our leaders will make sure we’re not deprived of the vicarious thrill of seeing Iraqis shot.
MALINI JOHAR SCHUELLER is a professor at the department of English at the University of Florida where she teaches courses on American literature culture. Her latest book, co-edited with Ashley Dawson is titled “Exceptional State: Contemporary US Culture and the New Imperialism” and is forthcoming from Duke University Press in June 2007.