Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bloody Shirt Thursday

People are gonna get mad, Spot.

Nevertheless, grasshopper.

It's the seventh anniversary of That Day. Terrible. Searing. But there are some people who are afraid that the memory is not as visceral as it used to be; that it's losing its power to frighten; that we are in danger of actually thinking about what we're doing, or maybe even thinking before we act.

So we need booster shots. Right wing bloggers all over the country have set up clinics to administer the vaccinations. Even people who you would think knew better have gotten into the act.

The intent is to short circuit the brain, to make you go directly to the square called "revenge." And damn, it has worked well. But the bloody shirt has an ignoble history:

The term "bloody shirt" can be traced back to the aftermath of the murder of the third Caliph, Uthman in 656 AD, when a bloody shirt and some hair alleged to be from his beard were used in what is widely regarded as a cynical ploy to gain support for revenge against opponents. It also appears in a scene in William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, in which Mark Antony waves Julius Caesar's toga to stir up the emotions of his fellow Romans. This comes from Caesar's historical funeral in 44 BC when Marc Antony showed the toga to the crowd during his funeral oration. In American history, it gained popularity with an apocryphal [meaning untrue] incident in which Benjamin Franklin Butler of Massachusetts, when making a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, allegedly held up the shirt of a carpetbagger whipped by the Ku Klux Klan.

We have done far more damage to ourselves in the aftermath of 9/11 than the hijackers did that day.

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