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>From the Virus List
A Cross Post written by Dana Blankenhorn, a very Virian thinker.
(I have snipped a little unrelated material, and the original article was
chock full of links which can be found at www.a-clue.com)
What's the use of stories that aren't even true?"
This is the question Haroun Khalifa asks his father, Rashid, the "Shah of
Blah," in Salman Rushdie's masterful fairy tale, "Haroun and the Sea of
While my life has been journalism, I do not pretend that what you read in
a-clue.com is truly that. I may base my ramblings and imaginings on facts,
on real stories ripped from the headlines, but they are, in the end, just
musings, proposals, dreams - stories, in other words.
Every company, every country, and every religion starts with a story. Every
life tells a story. The Internet is where all these stories, for the first
time in the world's history, have the opportunity to come together. It is
Kahani, the moon where Rushdie's story takes place. This medium is truly fed
by the ocean of the streams of story.
What we feel today, what we will continue to feel for years to come, is
similar to what Rushdie has felt since the Iranian Mullahs declared a fatwa
(statement) of blasphemy and a death sentence upon him for his "The Satanic
Verses." "Haroun" was the first product of his pen after the death sentence.
Rushdie is currently, as I understand it, a resident of New York City.
Rushdie's Kahani is divided between light Guppees and dark Chupwalas, but
these are not his heroes or villains. Both are necessary for stories to
work. His villain is Khattam-Shud, the final end, the closed heart and mind
which poisons the ocean and sucks the life from light and dark alike.
And the solution to Khattam-Shud isn't a great battle, but simply exposing
his nature, as is done by Haroun in the fable and his father Rashid the next
day in telling his son's story before a huge crowd. That's the use of
stories that aren't even true.
Osama bin Laden and those who have declared war on us are beyond faith,
hope, or life. They are Khattam-Shud, the end. This is what they gave the
World Trade Center. This is what they seek to give to all of us.
We of the Internet, no matter what our opinions may be, are all currents in
the ocean of the streams of story. We are Kahani, whether or not our stories
are true. This medium is life, it is a glorious adventure, it can be
anything you wish it to be.
But it won't be defended by our becoming as intolerant or judgmental as our
enemies. The war won't be won by Guppees fighting Chupwalas. It can only be
won by exposing Khattam-Shud so that all might reject him, starting of
course with the people of Afghanistan and extending to all the world's
Muslims. If dead he can be a martyr. He can only be truly gone when he's
universally recognized for what he is, a blasphemer.
My point for you today is it won't end there. The war against Khattam-Shud
doesn't end. It is the never-ending battle against all all absolutes that
declare war against anyone with other stories to tell, and who practice
their intolerance in action, not just word.
Many think they see the ingredients of Khattam-Shud in front of them. They
see it on thousands of Web sites, in hundreds of e-mail lists, on every U.S.
talk radio station. Some hear it spoken from pulpits. But Rushdie teaches
that it's fine and good for such foolish talk to be written and read, spoken
and heard. It's just Chupwalas spreading darkness, and even Guppees are
attracted to such black-and-white, simplistic stuff.
It's just when that darkness decides to fill a Ryder truck with fertilizer
and diesel fuel, then explode it next to a federal building, that it becomes
Khattam-Shud. It's when that darkness chooses to hatch a plot to hijack
planes and fly them into buildings that it becomes Khattam-Shud.
No thought, no matter how intolerable to you, or abhorrent, should be beyond
the power of the Internet to deliver. It's actions, or plans of action
leading to death, that must be exposed to the light. That's an important
difference to understand as the Internet goes forward, as this Kahani spins
The ultimate darkness lies in closing our eyes and ears, our hearts and
minds, to any currents in the oceans of the streams of story. There's much
more to this medium than meets the Blinking Eye.
Make No More Enemies Than Necessary
I haven't read Clausewitz or Sun Tzu but I strongly suspect that, if either
were alive today, they would be recommending that we limit the field of our
While the military response to the September 11 attacks has been minimal so
far, the legal attacks on others have been severe, and the propaganda
attacks on the enemy almost non-existent. The statements of the In Defense
of Freedom page should be self-evident, beyond debate. Yet the Bush
Administration is insisting on permanent reductions in civil liberties, and
branding opponents (like those who support the In Defense of Freedom page)
as "soft on terrorism." . The word for this, for those who remember their
U.S. history, is McCarthyism.
It's true that America has its own home-grown nut cases (we recently
executed one ) and may yet execute a second) and there are others like
McVeigh out there . But trying to eliminate encryption, or pretending that
U.S. law enforcement "wars" against the Mafia or drugs have been won (and
are thus the model for what we should do now) are, quite simply, less than
The coalition against Bin Laden is already breaking down as Israelis and
Arabs wrap the conflict inside their own agendas. It is foolish to add
hackers or civil libertarians in this country to that growing list of
enemies. Instead of arguing among ourselves, we should be funding and
expanding the view that the Taliban are non-Islamic and non-Afghan, and
making the case against the perpetrators in the worldwide courts of public
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