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Sunday, October 21, 2007

National Alternatives to Suicide Bombing

Suicide bomber, Italian version.

The Muslim world, from Morocco to Afghanistan, is starting to get a bit of a reputation for trying to resolve conflict via suicide bombings. To most Westerners, it would seem that Muslims have rather radical views, with suicide bombing being the most radical. It is impossible for us to imagine anything so important that you feel the need to blow yourself to pieces along with a lot of innocent people. I think most Westerners believe that suicide bombers represent the most extreme elements in the Muslim world. However, if I see someone who looks to be of Middle Eastern descent wearing a bulging overcoat, my first thought isn’t that he is trying to smuggle outside food into a ball game.

It’s just that most Westerners have different ways to express the sort of pent-up anger that would lead a Muslim to blow him or herself to kingdom come along with anyone unlucky enough to be within range of the blast. I think that these ways of expressing anger differ from country to country and are defined by the national character stamped upon the citizens of these countries. What might lead one person to commit a suicide bombing mission might push someone from France, Spain, Australia, Britain, Italy, or the United States in an entirely different direction.

The kind of rage that makes one person strap on a vest packed with TNT and walk into a crowded market would cause an entirely different reaction with the average America. We Americans are more likely to attack people where it really hurts: in the pocketbook. Instead of engulfing ourselves and those around us in a fiery blaze, Americans would just take their business elsewhere. We may even spend more money at the alternative business just to emphasize our displeasure. That will really show those bastards!

Suicide bombing is just too messy and vulgar for the English. They are more apt to show their disgust by being icily-polite and coldly-courteous. After an English person cruelly inquires about the health of your family, you may just wish that you had been the victim of a bombing. Trying to come up with a rejoinder for such a well-mannered assault can be harder than searching for lost body parts after an explosion in an airport.

The Spanish are equally as passive-aggressive as the English; they just have other methods. Most anger in Spain is somehow vented through car horns. Sometimes you will hear someone leaning on their car horn for so long that you ask yourself, “Is it even possible for a person to be that much of an asshole?” Normal traffic problems trigger almost biblical bouts of honking. I often think that all of the injustices committed against the people of Palestine would not warrant car horn blasts of such duration and frequency. Imagine if the Spanish were really annoyed.

I have no idea as to what the French might do. France is still a mystery to me in many ways despite all of the hours I have spent torturing myself learning French grammar and irregular verb conjugations. What the French do they don't share with the tourists. I think what this probably means is that the French would just ignore an offense because today the weather is just too fine in Paris to do anything but go out and do whatever the hell it is that Parisians do on a warm Sunday afternoon. Tomorrow, however, they will surely conduct a huge protest in the streets which always ends with a McDonald’s getting fire bombed (although it could have been caused accidentally by a carelessly thrown cigarette butt). While the pompiers put out the blaze, everyone else watches from the terrace of the nearby cafes.

Italians would obviously just invent some sort of extremely vulgar hand gesture in response to a terrible wrong. Only they would know what the gesture means, but you would get the general idea that they weren’t happy about something. While they are giving the secret hand signal they are also letting go with a few, rapid-fire phrases that you don’t understand but probably have something to do with the terminal end of your mother’s intestinal track.

Australians don’t ever seem to get upset over anything. If the dirtballs from al Qaeda carried out an attack against Australians, they would still get invited to someone’s backyard barbeque. As long as they show up with a case of beer, Australians are willing to let bygones be bygones.

Mexicans would either punch you in the face or hug you to within an inch of your life, depending on their level of Dos Equis and tequila and whether a slow ballad is playing or a rowdy ranchera. Either way, there are going to be a few bullet holes in the ceiling so watch out for falling plaster.

After the recent terror attack in Scotland where one of the suspects was apprehended by average citizens and roundly thumped, I think the Scottish would respond to a grave injustice by giving someone a head butt.

The Scandinavians would mess up the directions on the self-assembled furniture they sell you. "Insert L#3 into Z#5? There is no Z#5! Curse you Sweden!"

I have completely exhausted my supply of national stereotypes.

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