oklahoma bombing

Bryan A. Alexander bnalexan at umich.edu
Mon Apr 24 15:53:59 MDT 1995

Another interesting aspect of this bombing is its iconography.  Clinton
and his administration were using the dual figure of child pornography
and terrorism to justify repressing the internet and other acts.  This
two-headed specter reappears in the iconic response to the bombing: on
the one hand the fetishization of the bodies of children, even to the
gruesome point of the Clintons' address to kids nationwide: but we see
the bodies repeatedly, pornographically, kiddie snuff porn via CNN.  On
the other hand we get real or spectacular terrorism, "analyzed" at
length, splayed for our delectation through every medium available (wait
for the miniseries!).  The dual image translated, and once again an icon
of wise if harsh rule: the Omnibus Antiterrorism Act, racism against
Arabs (I love referring to the suspects as 'Christian terrorists'): three
terms of child, parent, and shadowy terrorist, wherein the second
paternally protects the first from the third.  We all slide into the
bliss of an infantile citizenry, our bodies passively manipulated, our
minds willing and waited to be formed by the stern tough-love of the
family, be it never so traditional.
	I'm not trying to get away from Marx, here, but am romping in the
superstructure for a paragraph or two.
	But this leads us back to Marx and social relations, via masking:
the bombers and their correctors are now emptied of economic content;
once the militia distance themselves from the suspects and/or are
genially suppressed, even the political elements, no matter how sincere,
vanish in isolation (no-one could sympathize with these guys - just as
nobody could defend, much less support, child pornography or terrorism,
right?).  Instead the state reasserts itself and its rights and purview -
this much any nonMarxist could tell you.  But a Marxist reading would
restore the ways in which this State Rampant and Militant corrects
and orders the presence of the burgeoning underclass, the sharp decline
in real wages, the already present militarization of inner cities under
the guise of the War on Drugs.  The state will clarify these
contradictions through sheer willpower, taking them unto itself.  I
submit that it is our task to represent these contradictions along the way.

Bryan Alexander
Department of English
University of Michigan

On Sun, 23 Apr 1995 JenaSee at aol.com wrote:

> There are many obvious aspects of the bombing that we, as Marxists, can
> address, as well as more obscure issues.  One of the more obscure issues that
> has definitely disturbed me is the alliance of the left (center) and right
> wings of the government over this issue, and how that alliance is forged over
> the ideal of "American values", or the "American way of life".  Underlying
> this is a definite undertone of racism and anti-Arab sentiment, which is an
> issue that seems obvious, but that the media has been very quick to
>  overlook.
> An issue very close to home for Marxist (and more importantly, organized
> socialists) is the anti-terrorism bill which is being plugged in a most
> grotesque way by this incident.  The anti-terrorism bill requires a minimum
> of ten years imprisonment (if your not shot by the cia first) for any person
> or organization which supports, affiliates with, or is a member of an
> organization which, more or less, the US government does not approve of.  The
> lists includes orgs like the PLO, the IRA, and the ANC.  Of course, although
> it does not say specifically, it includes commies and any sympathizers.
> Theorectically and practically, I see the anti-terrorism bill as the most
> important area of political work around the oklahoma bombing.  Realistically,
>  i don't think it will be very easy to get average working people to see past
> the threat on "American values".
> Jena See
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