Now for the analysis. Why the headline? Did the copy editor not know what M-80s are? Perhaps. They are illegal after all. But perhaps the individual writing the headline thought 'explosives' was, well, more explosive. It evokes. It conjures up a notion. My first mental picture was of a vehicle rigged to detonate outside of a Mosque, drums of explosive liquids connected to a fuse. And I can't help but wonder if that's exactly what the headline writer wanted me to think.
Why? Why would someone - if I'm reading this correctly - want me to think of Oklahoma City or, less likely, the various attempts by Muslim citizens to destroy larges swaths of lower Manhattan? Assuming I'm right, that there was a method to the headline writer's madness, I think the answer comes from The Joker. The Dark Knight has been running for the last few weekends on a host of cable channels. I've had the chance to revisit the film, Christopher Nolan's talent for a good yarn, the various actors and characters with which we are so familiar, and of course, the late, great Heath Ledger's penultimate performance as the clown prince of crime himself.
At the end of the movie, the Joker is disappointed in the failure of Gotham City's residents to turn on one another. Having put two boatloads of residents and criminals at the mercy of one another, he apparently imagined that one of them would destroy the ferry carrying the others in an attempt to save themselves from certain death. Well, not to spoil the movie if you haven't seen it (STOP READING NOW IF YOU HAVEN"T) -
But it doesn't work. Turns out, both the citizens and the boat full of criminals are not willing to slaughter hundreds of people they don't know, even if it means losing their own lives. Of course, the Joker has one more card up his sleeve, but you'll have to watch the movie to see what happens next. The point is, he was trying to show that the people of Gotham, when push came to shove, were as ready to sink to his level, to kill indiscriminately. And they didn't.
And that brings me back to firecrackers and mosques and media reports and whether pigs have wings. In case you haven't noticed, and many on the Left side of the ideological aisle - and not a few Catholic apologists - haven't, the tendency in America is to see everything about our country in the worst possible light. The glass isn't half empty, it's empty. The lens is cracked and darkened. Ours is a sad nation of racism, imperialism, butchery and slaughter. We massacred Indians by the billions, owned slaves by the billions, dropped atomic bombs on babies by the billions. We don't do, think, or say anything about our country what that we must remind ourselves forever about the unforgivable sins of our fathers.
So naturally, when the 9/11 attacks occurred, our Pavlovian response was, "That was horrible! What did we do to make them hate us that much?" From there, we immediately feared what this country, founded on, and perpetuated in, racism, bigotry, ignorance, and brutality, would do to our Muslim neighbors. For weeks and months we heard discussions about how we must show restraint. How we must avoid lashing out and butchering those who may be Arab, or Muslim, or anything not like us. We feared that the Bush administration would react like Roosevelt, and round up Muslim citizens by the millions, shipping them off to secret concentration camps in the Nevada deserts. We imagined hordes of mindless rednecks, shambling about like so many extras just eloped from the set of The Walking Dead, going from door to door, seeking out hapless residents of Middle East descent. In short, we imagined that those horrible stories we've told ourselves about America and its past were not only true, but inevitable.
And yet, almost ten years later, there has been almost no backlash against Muslims, Arabs, or anyone of Middle Eastern descent. I'm not saying there was none. There was, especially in the days and weeks after 9/11: vandalism, threats, some off color verbal assaults. There were even a few cases of threats of violence and assaults. But as of now, not one Muslim has been killed because he or she was a Muslim. Not one that I'm aware of. Out of 300 million Americans, said to be racist, ignorant, bigoted thugs descended from a nation of bigotry, not one of millions of Muslims has been killed solely on the basis of being Muslim.
Now, Muslims since 9/11 have killed other Americans. And multiple attempts by Muslims to kill many more have been thwarted. But despite story after story of Muslims cowering in back alleys in fear of their lives, despite story after story telling us that crimes against Muslims are exploding all over our country (without actual examples), and despite the fact that we are continually reminded of our sad history and inevitable violent attitudes toward minorities, Muslims remain safer here than in the nations of the Islamic world. In short, the death camps and endless mobs that were to fall upon the American Muslim community never happened.
Therefore a man who, if reports are true, is obviously off the deep end and obviously needs arrested, just isn't enough. It's not enough that the worst this nation of imperialists, Islamaphobes, homophobes, anti-Semites, racists, and sexists can muster is a vehicle filled with firecrackers. Nope. It has to be more. It has to be 'explosives'. For if we aren't continually shown the errors of our ways, if our sins are not forever before us, we might someday stop and say, "You know, considering 9/11 and everything since, we Americans have done pretty darn good, haven't we? And that might mean some of those things upon which our country was founded weren't that bad after all." For people who want nothing more than to burn down the foundations of our country, such a revelation could be disastrous.
Again, I realize that there could be more. Maybe there were drums of gasoline or other hazardous chemicals in his vehicle. Maybe there were crates of TNT. Maybe the media isn't saying this because we all know how restrained the media can be when it comes to holding back on stories in case of copy-cats. But if not, then the above theory is the one I'm going with unless I am shown a reasonable alternative.