Those Cagey Canadians — Charlie Pierce on pushing the panic button over a car accident.
I have been long convinced that it’s time for this country to take a knee, take a few plays off, go into the tent on the sidelines, and enter the concussion protocol. Our bell has been rung so loudly that we can’t hear ourselves think any more, which is probably just as well, because what we’re thinking in many cases is not worth hearing anyway.
Earlier this week, a couple from Grand Island, New York, named Kurt and Monica Villani, were in something of a hurry to get to a night out in Canada. They headed at high speed toward the Rainbow Bridge that connects the United States and Canada. (Some reports have it that the Villanis, disappointed that a Kiss concert on this side of the bridge had been cancelled, were heading for a casino on the other side.) Video from the border crossing show a white car speeding around a corner and suddenly going airborne, banking just a bit to starboard as it goes out of frame. The car landed hard and exploded on impact, taking out a border security building with it. It is quite the video.
Shortly thereafter, elements of the American media and the American political establishments went completely out of their minds. They instantly snapped to a war footing, claiming that the car was coming from Canada (Wrong) and that it was loaded with explosives (Also Wrong) possibly to commit terrorism in the United States (Also, horribly, inexcusably wrong.) The original source for this wrongness was a quick-draw dispatch from a Fox News reporter. And that was enough for people who should’ve known better, but clearly don’t. Come on down, Vivek Ramaswamy. From the CBC:
That didn’t stop a candidate for president of the United States from appearing on Fox News to promote an aspect of his platform: Building a border wall with Canada. “I have been sounding the alarm bell about the northern border for a long time,” said Vivek Ramaswamy during a lengthy interview about an incident he did not witness, was not a subject-matter expert on, and had no insight into. “This is a mounting crisis. We’re ignoring it.”
Someone should explain the concept of “due diligence” to Captain Nuisance before his campaign finally crashed and burns.
Pretty soon, some of the rest of the boogedy-boogedy chorale chimed in, featuring guest soloist Senator Ted Cruz:
This confirms our worst fear: the explosion at Rainbow Bridge was a terrorist attack. Both attackers are dead, and one law enforcement officer is injured. I am praying that officer makes a full recovery and is able to spend Thanksgiving surrounded by family and loved ones. Thank you to our law enforcement officers who are remaining vigilant and working to protect Americans traveling for Thanksgiving.
This idiocy, first posted on Wednesday, was still up as of 2:30 p.m. Friday. If the senator wants to be a talk-show host, he should give up his day job because he is plainly not good at it.
Some of the lesser voices in the chorale had their moments, too. Kari Lake, the inexplicable presence from Arizona, blamed the administration’s “open borders” policy for this obvious terrorism event.
Rep. Byron Donalds, last seen being beheaded at a hearing by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, said, “Today’s apparent terrorist attack must be a wake-up call to all Americans.” Go back to bed, dude. Then there’s Senator Rick Scott: “We know that threats against America are on the rise.” Only if you go back into the health-care business.
And his colleague in the House, Anna Paulina Luna called for an immediate panic attack: “So it begins. We need to lock down the borders immediately. Full deportation efforts need to begin. The US does not need to be the world’s hospitality suite any longer.”
And because Florida insists on electing one of its roadside reptile farms to Congress, Rep. Cory Mills also suggested we have a national nervous breakdown: “Probing attacks, a compromised or detected bomber, secondary trigger man, malfunction, or diversionary attack away from S. Border should not be out of consideration.”
Especially on nights when Kiss cancels a gig.
The unreconsructed seditionist caucus checked in. Rep. Ronny Jackson, who once looked at El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago and saw Josh Allen, drew on his vast reservoir of intemperance: “God bless our Border Patrol. Early reports are that this attack in New York was terror related and that two people have been killed by this reported car bomb. This is terrible news for our country, but not surprising to anyone based on the wide open borders we have had since Biden took office.” Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, who wanted a pardon after January 6, was quite disturbed: “Praying for our CBP officials and first responders. Our borders are under attack and the Biden Administration continues to sit on its hands. It’s long past time to put Americans first.” And to obey all posted speed limits. And Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, of whom I know next to nothing, opined, “I’m incredibly alarmed by reports of an attempted terror attack at the U.S.-Canada border. For months, I’ve warned about the surge of suspected terrorists entering through our Northern border. We must greatly enhance border security at ALL of our borders, including the North.”
Political opportunism is one thing. I understand it. I expect it. But when its immediate side effect is having the entire country hide under the bed is a whole ‘nother thing. The Republic would be infinitely better off if politicians were banned from social media. I’m sorry if this inconveniences politicians I happen to like, but desperate times, etc. I’m fed up.
I had a hard lesson myself on this back on April 15, 2013. When the Tsarnaev brothers attacked the Boston Marathon, I wrote almost immediately that it was close to April 19, which is kind of a high holy day for America’s rightwing extremists. The Waco siege ended on April 19, 1993 and, then, Timothy McVeigh memorialized it by blowing up the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City two years later. When it became plain that the crime was perpetrated by a couple of local DIY terrorists from central Asia, I took considerable heat from starboard for pinning the act prematurely on America’s well-regulated duck boot militia. And, sadly, much of it was correct.
In fact, Canada has had the sad experience of Americans jumping to conclusions and landing on its head once before. From the CBC:
The afternoon of speculation rekindled rough memories for Canada from the 9/11 era, where American fears of cross-border terrorism resulted in a long-term tightening of the border. Incorrect reports that the hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001 entered from Canada compounded fears fuelled by the deadliest terrorist attack in American history. Canadian diplomats in Washington spent years trying to dispel that canard, as it had created a real-world impact on Canada’s economy and its major international border. On Fox News, one anchor was well aware of this history: network host John Roberts, a Canadian, said it wasn’t clear what exactly had happened Wednesday. Roberts asked: “Is this foreign-born terrorism? Is it domestic terrorism? We don’t know.” He did note, accurately, that, a year and a half before the Sept. 11 attacks, a would-be terrorist bomber, Ahmed Ressam, was stopped at the border entering from Canada.
Let us face facts. No country ever had a better neighbor than we have in Canada. We’ve invaded it twice, and even put two hockey teams in Florida, and they’ve been remarkably understanding of our now regularly scheduled mental-health episodes. We could learn a lot from that, once we’re out of the concussion protocol and declared physically capable of thinking again.
Doonesbury — Infectious humor.