Sunday, January 30, 2011

FTT Off Topic: Color Up

In a small moment for sanity and adult discourse, the Obama Admin-istration is retiring the color-coded alert system for terror threats introduced after 9/11. It seems that after a decade of gallows humor jibes and growing public cynicism, the idea that giving each day a Green (the lowest level, which we never achieved -- hell, we never even achieved Blue, the next lowest level) to Red (achieved once, in 2006, three months before the midterm elections, when you were supposed to BUY DUCT TAPE! BUY DUCT TAPE! and use it to cover all of your home and personal orifices while taking any flight to Britain) designation of Big Fear has outlasted its usefulness. As if it ever had any in the first place, of course.

So what comes next? By the end of April, we're going to have more specific and focused threat descriptions, possibly via Twitter or Facebook mobile alert message. I'm sure that someone out there, probably in a much older demographic who has gone on a permanent level of losing their fudge after the 2008 elections, is going to miss this, or have it impact their decision to vote in 2012. But probably not.

Because here's the nasty little problem with knowing more about terrorism: it achieves the exact goal of the terrorists, namely to create fear of the event, and to curtail ordinary human activity and commerce. There were always three distinct winners in any scare moment created by Al Qaeda, and none of them were on the side of the people. Like a wrassling show that had a big new big and evil dude in town, both the US government and Al Qaeda benefit ted, in a craven and repugnant fashion, from having people afraid of it. The final winner in this? The cable news networks that have always managed to parlay fear into ratings, and commercial time. (BUY GOLD! BUY SURVIVAL GEAR! BUY BOOKS THAT TELL YOU TO BUY GOLD AND SURVIVAL GEAR!)

In every age, there are trends that future generations will look back on and ridicule, and wonder how incredibly stupid the people who lived in that era were, since they capitulated to those trends. To people of my age, it's kind of amazing how Americans bought into the need to never leave the house without wearing a hat. I'm also kind of stunned at the idea that we really used to freak out when people of different races had babies. Others don't get how the entire nation would stop over who was the heavyweight boxing champion, or how people ever thought smoking was at best a minor health problem, or how people used to put themselves at incredible risk of contagion from the lack of decent hygiene.

Because even if the future is a nightmarish situation of rampant and effective terrorism on a level beyond, say, one effective domestic act of war every ten years (knock wood)... well, telling me that I should really stare at people on the airport because it's an Orange Day instead of a Yellow Day was always, on its face, breathtakingly stupid. Paying for the employment of people who made that designation, more so. And even if Something Happens and we're all reminded how there are people out there who want us dead and afraid? I'm somehow thinking that a public outcry for the return of Color Days isn't going to happen.

We now return you to your previously scheduled blog about sports, which is Green, and always has been.

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