independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Right on cue, out come the Boston blame-game fanatics

The explosions at the tail end of the Boston marathon once more brought back those images of a certain September Tuesday when everything changed forever.

Thankfully, from a pure body-count point of view the Boston attack 'only' claimed three lives when it could have been more (likewise, if the so-called 'Magnificent 19' had waited for just an hour before hijacking the New York-bound planes, the death toll would have been in the tens of thousands, not the comparatively paltry 3,000 they went to on kill).

But before the smoke had begin to clear, everyone's first instinct was – terrorism.

Sure, there were early intimations that the explosion might have been a mains leak – Boston is an old town, and needs major work on its utilities.

But the sight of the second explosion quickly chucked that rather forlorn hope into the bin.

So, who was responsible?

Well, to paraphrase Brando in The Wild Ones: "Who you got?"

At moments like these, you find yourself automatically turning to American news channels to see the immediate reaction and they didn't disappoint.

I know it's easy for people to slag the likes of Fox News and Bill O'Reilly but most of the people who give out about that network and its anchors never actually bother to watch it.

On this occasion, however, I spent the next 18 hours gaping in mute incomprehension as all matter of talking heads were rolled out to present their theories.

My personal favourite – and grimly hilarious it was, too – came with one commentator who almost angrily dismissed the idea that the bomber(s) might be home-grown terrorists – the first conclusion most people were arriving at. This was dismissed on the grounds that a good ol' American terrorist would have done a better job.

Ah yes – we might have our own nutters, was the subtext. But at least our nutters would be more efficient and would only use American products in their IED – I mean, just look at what they did to the Alfred P Murrah Building!

Honestly, at one stage it looked as if they were going to break out a deck of Top Trump cards and see which country had the most cost- effective wackos.

They came to usual suspects – someone who was initially described as 'being of dusky skin' was seen.

Then a Saudi national was detained. Or was he arrested? Or was he released? Or was that piece of information a simple miscommunication that went global?

Now, numerous news networks over there have been accused of ramping up racism and Islamophobia – pressure groups like CAIR in America have already tried to twist the attack to their own ends, claiming it has been used as a stick with which to beat Muslims.

But ask yourself this: during the height of the IRA's bombing campaign in Britain, if you saw a bomb go off in The City, followed by a bloke who spoke with an Irish accent running away from the scene of the crime, you'd be entitled to feel suspicious too.

So what was the catalyst for the events of this week?

Well, it didn't take long before the conspiracies began to fly.

And, somewhat improbably, some people are convinced that Family Guy is responsible, or at least holds some clues about what happened.

An episode aired last month called Turban Cowboy which happened to feature a gag about the Boston marathon and – in an unrelated scene – a bridge exploding.

This immediately allowed the likes of American idiot and conspiracy nut Alex Jones – who is the human equivalent of the Knock shrine for the tin-foil helmet brigade – to defecate his paranoid insanity all over the airwaves by claiming the episode was a sign of what was to come.

Jones, for those of you unaware of him (which will be most of you) is a complete fraud and a charlatan who recently came to wider attention when he had a major eppo on Piers Morgan's CNN show, and is the kind of person who makes Jim Corr look like the picture of logic and reason.

In fact, his entire shtick is hopping on any traumatic event and fitting it into his twisted narrative.

Let's put it this way: he's either completely mad or else is in the pay of the Illuminati to discredit all conspiracy nuts.

And Jones, old chap – feel free to sue over the assertion that you're either a phoney or deranged or in the pay of dark, Satanic forces. I look forward to it.

But that hasn't stopped his people from comparing the body angles of people from the actual explosion to the body angles of the animated characters.

Now, call me old-fashioned, but when you find yourself poring painstakingly over a cartoon, coming up with ways to connect it to a murderous atrocity, then you know you have really gone off the reservation.

But it seems that any time something out of the ordinary happens, there is always some nefarious plan behind it, all organised by shadowy, sinister and powerful organisations – the Illuminati, the Bilderberg Group and so forth.

Look, what we're witnessing is a manifestation of a culture and society that has lost its moorings and is willing to believe anything.

So why would people believe in such manifestly obvious hogwash?

Stupidity is the first thing that springs to mind, and that's undoubtedly a factor.

But it goes deeper than that: in an increasingly unstable world, when belief in a Higher Power has largely disappeared – no great loss as far as I'm concerned – the credulous still need something to believe in.

And if you live in a world where you can see no logic or reason for events occurring, that can be scary.

So, to counter that sense of being rudderless, and not having a Church or a God to turn to, they instead invent a shadowy, all-powerful organisation that is pulling the strings and controlling us.

It might be a scary thought for these people, but it's not as scary as the existential crisis that comes with realising that, in the words of Homer Simpson: "Life is just a bunch of stuff that happens."

But you wanna know one mysterious thing about the coverage?

North Korea has been conspicuous in its absence in the speculation about who could be responsible. Not a peep. In fact, it's rather spooky when you think about it.

Mere coincidence? In fact, I'm off to my box set of American Dad to see if there are any other hidden signs ...

iodoherty@independent.ie

Irish Independent

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