Tuesday, June 07, 2005



I just had to run this story. It is very revealing as well as funny in a pathetic but predictable way. The new fad: Osama/9/11 lighter!
The Osama bin Laden cigarette lighter is adorned with his raised, chrome portrait, an embossed "9-11", sketches of the New York World Trade Center, an approaching airplane, and a big red splotch. When you flick the sleek, metal lighter open, a light-emitting diode illuminates the splotch so it glows bright red on one of the buildings, emphasizing the site of the first crash. Loud, computerized music beeps out a loop of Mozart.

Made in China - as are many of the latest gimmicky Osama bin Laden souvenirs - the butane lighter recently showed up in Cambodia.
The free market strikes again. Plenty of people know that billions of people now hate America and think bin Laden's attack was funny or appropriate or both. A great way to make money is peddling stuff mocking America. This stands in stark contrast with 9/11 and the world showering us with sympathy even as our wayward ruler was plotting to commit war crimes instead of prosecuting bin Laden.
While Asian customers often appear non-plussed or bored with the al-Qaeda leader's appearance in their markets, many foreign tourists express shock and awe at the commercialization of the world's most-wanted killer. Other tourists, including Americans, can be seen laughing with sarcastic delight at the cruel globalization of absurdity, despite the outrageous insult to bin Laden's victims.

Thai clothing sellers cater to both sides by offering a high-quality T-shirt adorned with a reverently painted, color portraits of bin Laden; another hangar dangles a T-shirt with the al-Qaeda leader's face targeted inside a red bull's-eye. One common T-shirt in Thailand, which seems to attract mostly cynics and anti-right-wingers, is printed with the faces of bin Laden and President George W Bush side-by-side, and captioned, "CIA and FBI Presents: Twin Terrors".
Hahaha. That is common? Means popular, no?

Here is a blast from the past:
As the scale of the U.S. attacks sank deeper, even old enemies like Syria, Cuba, Libya, Iran -- with Iraq the exception -- stood by America.

Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said he could not forgive the suicide attackers.

Europe embraced America, although some countries gently urged the world's wounded superpower, in a grim mood for vengeance, to think calmly before it unleashed retaliation.

"In the darkest days of European history, America stood close by us and today we stand close by America," European Commission President Romano Prodi said after the most serious assault on the United States since Pearl Harbor in 1941.

"Nothing will ever be the same."

Diplomats said NATO planned to declare that the strikes fell under the mutual defence clause of the world's most powerful military alliance -- meaning European allies would react to the attack on America as if it were an attack on themselves.

European Union foreign ministers offered immediate search and rescue help and total solidarity.

The European Union has declared Friday a day of mourning throughout its 15 member states in solidarity with the victims of the attacks.
Etc. The loss of goodwill in the last four years is most astonishing. We blew through the whole smear in no time flat. Now most of the world hates our guts. They hope something bad will happen to us. The strategy of snarl and snap and hit and pound is destroying something valuable: sympathy.

Sympathy matters. This is what "winning hearts and minds" is all about.

Oh well. Seems obnoxious viciousness is the New American Way.

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