Sunday, September 21, 2014

218. Reactions

“Know what I would do if I wanted to destroy your country?” It was a strange question, even from C.W. who had assumed the form of Edward R.Murrow as we walked the park together. I laughed watching him try to smoke a cigarette. I don’t think they do that on the planet of Falloonia. He finished one and flipped the butt at a passing bicyclist.

“Don’t do that,” I said. “And how would you destroy us?”

“Just think,” he said. “What is your greatest natural tendency?”

“Loving our neighbors?”

He laughed. “Try telling that to them.” He gestured toward two men ahead of us, holding hands and enjoying a walk in the park.”

“So,” I said, “what do you think is our greatest natural tendency?”

Wanerwopsoomasoon,” he said, lapsing into Falloonian.”

“Translation, please.”

He placed a hand on his stomach and waited for his Galactic Universal Translator to respond.”

“Your tendency to react with unnecessary or inappropriate force, emotional display, or violence.”



I said, “You must be kidding me. We don’t overreact.”

“Yes you do,” he said. “Our whole galaxy has observed the phenomenon.”

“You are crazy,” I said. “Crazy.”

“Didn’t you observe, back in what you call the 1960s, how those in the Civil Rights Movement succeeded in provoking repressive law enforcement members into violence that then appeared on national TV?”

“That was different,” I said.

“How?” He lit another cigarette.

I fumed. “Just different.”

“What about the reaction resulting in your invasion of the wrong country when a group of Saudi Arabians attacked yours?”

“That was stupidity,” I yelled. “Not overreaction.”

“A fine point to those in Baghdad that were dodging the bombs that awful morning.” He took a long drag, coughed, and exhaled. “To them it was overreaction, whether you like it or not.” He raised the cigarette again.

“Bullshit,” I screamed and I knocked the cigarette from his mouth. It skidded on the sidewalk as the couple ahead of us turned to observe the commotion. He just smiled as realization must have settled upon me.

“Exactly,” was all he said.

I changed the subject. “So what would you do to destroy us?”

“First,” he said, “I would invent an imaginary insult that some small country has leveled against you.”

“A small country?”

“Yes. It would be much more profitable to attack a small country, but it would be a small country that had many powerful friends.”

“But it would be a lie.”

He looked at me as if I had just said I didn’t believe in the Theory of Gravity. “We would create our own truth.”

“And how exactly,” I said, “would you do that?”

“Oh I would get a couple of wealthy foreigners who hated your country for some real or imagined sin.”

“What?” I said. “Who?”

“Oh, maybe an Australian or a Saudi Arabian. There are plenty.”

“And then what?”

“Go into the information manipulation business.”

“The what?”

“TV, radio, newspapers, magazines.

“Wait a moment,” I said.

He ignored me. “It wouldn’t take long to work your people into overreaction. They are a passionate race, mostly undereducated, and largely uniformed.”

“Would you wait a moment?” I said.

The bombing of a city shows
 so well on TV. - C.W.
“And then I imagine we would hire voices that had never been to war that would start clamoring for one.”

“Please stop,” I said.

“I know,” he said, reaching for a cigarette. “It is a frightful fantasy.” He began to cough.

I couldn’t think of anything to say. I looked and saw the couple ahead was coming to see about us.
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And check out
 - C.W.

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