Hag and I were communing off to the side about posting something on Boston. He’s moving, and working on an FDL piece I presume. I’m a tad busy, but also in shock about the atrocity in my hometown, which is, truly, our great historical mecca. Yet, dumbstruck or not, scribblers must scribble.
History is real in Boston. As I’ve said here: there is a Witch House in Salem, but also lots of the history of original thought and debate that formed the nation. This event, sadly, is one more chapter in the record of the city and region. Yes, Red Sox star David Ortiz did utter a cuss word before the Sox-Royals game the other day, and, despite the quick clean-up of his remarks for mass media consumption, Ortiz’s expletive is on record too. It’s okay, Dave. We forgive you. Play ball.
People were blown up on the streets of Boston on Patriot’s Day – Marathon Day – at the finish line of the race.
The history of the Boston Marathon is real too. The first race was held in 1897, inspired by the 1896 Summer Olympics. Today, the race is the oldest of its kind in the world, the crown jewel of the world marathon circuit. It’s Boston’s rite of spring.
As for the bad guys – these little boys - let’s get one thing straight. We can size them up on our own terms – on our Western terms. And we should, more than ever, even as the investigation continues, while taking into account the sensibilities of their families, ethnic ties, religious leanings, what Vladimir Putin thinks, or the failures of security services or intel.
I would have shot the fuckers dead on the sidewalk on Boylston Street that day had I any inkling of what they were about. They deserved to be taken out, whatever their problems were, and I’d bet a lot of Bostonians feel the same. Some locals might say about such an attitude: Tough toenails.
Anyway, as for sizing them up on our terms, the following take satisfies me.
This is about the personification of evil:
“To ‘plume up the will,’ to heighten the sense of power or superiority – this seems to be the unconscious motive of many acts of cruelty which evidently do not spring chiefly from ill will, and which therefore puzzle and sometimes horrify us most. It is often this that makes a man bully the wife or children of whom he is fond. The boy who torments another boy, as we say, ‘for no reason,’ or who without any hatred for frogs tortures a frog, is pleased with his victim’s pain, not from any disinterested love of evil or pleasure in pain, but mainly because this pain is the unmistakable proof of his own power over his victim. So it is with Iago. His thwarted sense of superiority wants satisfaction.”
– … from “Othello”
– Shakespearean Tragedy, 1904
– A.C. Bradley
Iago is Shakespeare’s greatest villain, and while Shakespeare remains the greatest dead white male author of them all, his stuff, or criticism about his stuff, still informs.
In the story, Iago, passed over for promotion by Othello, a Moor who serves as a commander in the Venetian army, decides to drive Othello into a jealous, killing rage. Iago creates in Othello enough anger and confusion about his newly married wife, Desdemona, that he does kill her. But Iago is also destroyed. His plot collapses on him at the end of the play as other characters finally realize what he’s been up to.
Iago thoroughly believes he’s been wronged, and he feeds on his need to destroy. Shakespeare created a character who “plumbs” his worst impulses and eventually acts on them. As with the boy-men who set off bombs in Boston the other day, Iago may be affected by various exotic externalities, by people near him or far away. But he decides his course.
Mike Barnicle, a Boston native and long time reporter with deep knowledge of the city, said the other day the real issue is about murderers. Barnicle was sending a shot across the bow of Sen. Graham, who has called for the accused to be tried as an “enemy combatant.” Barnicle, and others, have provided some clarity in that they’re arguing that what happened in Boston should stay in Boston, in so far as this is a crime more than a terrorist attack, and that it should be dealt with by the quite capable civilian criminal justice system in that jurisdiction.
This is an argument that might turn us away from the great cloud about the war on terrorism, even while the Bush library is opened in Texas and the rehabilitation of that former president gets underway in earnest. Honest.
The case should be presented to a Boston grand jury, because the people of Boston should determine what justice means in this case.
By the way, it’s not known what happens to Iago. As the play ends he is taken alive, arrested and removed from the scene.