Tuesday, November 6, 2012

eagleburger's fear

I watched the 9/11 segments before I read the Ahmed, and the section on hate seems particularly relevant to the way that Peter Jennings and Eagleburger discussed blame and recourse in the immediate aftermath of the event. Eagleburger begins discussing bin Laden without explaining how he came to identify him as the perpetrator; his credentials as a government insider speak for him. The recourse he recommends, though Jennings mentions that al-Qaeda is a dispersed group,  is to declare war on Afghanistan. “Hate is always hatred of something or somebody, although that something or somebody does not necessarily pre-exist the emotion,” Ahmed writes, and in this case the association of the terrorist other to the fixed figures of bin Laden, the whole mass of Afghanistan as a country, creates the hatred in that it creates its object. (The telethon responded to this conflation with clips of Muslim children feeling victimized, blamed—they are Americans; they are innocent children. This elides the fear that one might not, as Ahmed writes, ‘tell the difference’—how could innocent children terrorize, the segment asks?)

ABC proceeds to show stock footage of bin Laden shooting a fearsome gun. The audience needs to see this new perpetrator, even though, (despite, because) Peter Jennings makes sure to mention that one person on one flight manifest is the tenuous link between bin Laden and the attacks, at that moment. Ahmed writes that “hate involves the negotiation of an intimate relationship between a subject and an imagined other,” and this creates that relationship, projects knowability onto the trauma of the event, but also opens up the pathway to the repositioning of the same fears, their amplification—unknowable timing or possibility of attack becomes unknowable timing and possibility of locating bin Laden’s body, which “Takes on fetish qualities as an object of fear.” The crisis ordinary “is already under threat by imagined others” before the attack; the towers provide an event… But what I keep coming back to is this tapering that ABC does, Eagleburger’s continual claim that people might think he is “crazy” for saying things, which Jennings denies, says everyone is emotional, that THEY’D be crazy not to feel so rash. Jennings “doesn’t mean to be dispassionate” but doesn’t challenge Eagleburger’s claims, really, except to lend them one piece of evidence. The stock footage that intersperses the interview is PREPARED by someone at ABC. I am trying to work through the ways hope and fear are circulating between Jennings and Eagleburger.

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