[POLITICS] The Moussaoui jury heard the Flight 93 audiotape yesterday. In half an hour, as the WaPo story
tells it, the terrorists took over the plane violently, and then the passengers rebelled successfully, forcing the terrorists to crash the plane.
Real terror. Real heroism. I wonder how it compares with the movie.
The only problem with playing it for the jury, of course, is it's clear to most sane people (which emphatically does not include Moussaoui himself) that Moussaoui had nothing to do with hijacking Flight 93, much as he would dearly have loved to have been involved. Even the terrorists knew he was crazy. (It reminds me of an old Batman comic I once had -- the Joker decides not to get in a fistfight with the Dark Knight because "I may be insane, but I'm not crazy
!") Of course, he wants to be a martyr, so he's told the jury that he was supposed to have hijacked a fifth plane along with Richard the Shoe Bomber. So we'll execute the crazy would-be conspirator because the real murderers went down with the plane, and we can't execute them.
I wish the people in charge of our response to the terrorist threat had a little more sense of the story
we're telling the rest of the world. We're not telling the world we're strong. We're telling the world we're confused, and weak, and scared. A strong country would disappear Moussaoui into an asylum for the criminally insane for the rest of his life. A strong country would make a serious attempt to achieve consensus on Iran, rather than brandishing nukes...
The story Bush Senior told was, "Saddam is a dangerous maniac but we are all of us going to put him back in his house and make sure he can't hurt anyone." The story we're telling the world right now is that we're a herd of stampeding cattle goaded on by ignorant cowboys whose vision is bad and whose word is worthless.
Stories matter because they are how people see the world. They are what people act on. People tend to gloss over details. That's how our brains work. Only schizophrenics get hung up on details. We remember a few salient points. We assume that if you lie about finding mobile biowar labs, you can't be trusted on Iran's nukes.
We act on the stories we believe. We got into Vietnam because the story was that if Vietnam went Communist, so would the rest of Southeast Asia. We got out of Vietnam because the story was that our soldiers were committing atrocities in defense of a corrupt regime that was, ultimately, as bad as the Communists. Both stories omitted important details. But the stories were what moved the world.
Stories are Archimedes' lever, by which the world is moved.