Friday, April 11, 2003

First we had a "rolling start"; then a "rolling victory." Now, it seems, we have a "rolling dialogue." I imagine "rolling freedom" and "rolling democracy" are close behind.

What all this suggests, of course, is that we are really engaged in a "rolling war," one with no beginning, no end, no boundaries; it also means that terms like "victory" and "dialogue" can be used as labels by the U.S. government for situations on the ground that clearly resemble neither. Anarchy is simply "rolling victory," victory always in the process of happening, fierce resistance notwithstanding; installation of a U.S. puppet government is "rolling dialogue"--real democracy TBA.

I can't help but connect the rhetoric of "rolling" to the phrase "Let's roll," uttered by Todd Beamer aboard Flight 93 on September 11, and subsequently embraced as a slogan of post-9/11 heroism by everyone from George Bush to Elaine Scarry. Beamer's homely metaphor became iconic in part, as Scarry suggests, because he was a member of the only group of Americans to fight back directly against terrorism--as opposed to the proxy wars we are now fighting in Afganistan and Iraq. I wonder to what degree the rhetoric of "Let's roll"--adopted by Bush as a generalized set of "marching orders"--has been carried over to justify this "rolling war," and to obscure the more disturbing elements of that language.

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