The Boston Manhunt as a ‘Political’ Event

April 24, 2013

In this conversation with Bill, The Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald describes the manhunt for the perpetrators of the Boston marathon bombings as a “political event” that connects to larger questions about our culture, and explains how, in the wake of the event, people were forming opinions about the world and government based on little information.

“What I saw was everybody glued to the television in order to observe and engage with a very political event,” Greenwald says, “political because it was infused with all kinds of political messages about Muslims, about radicalism, about what the proper role of the police and the military are in the United States.”

“What you could see, in how people were observing, was their political impressions about the world, about their government, about political debates being formed based on the very few incidents that they really pay attention to.”

Watch the full conversation between Bill Moyers and Glenn Greenwald this weekend on Moyers & Company.

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  • BrainImplant

    Looking forward to hearing the full discussion. I intentionally stayed away from the TV coverage last week as much as possible, and this has been my habit in the past ten years. There is a quote from Baudrillard that I think is of value, despite how you feel about him personally or academically —

    “Not only are all history and power plays disrupted, but so are the conditions of analysis. One must take one’s time. For as long as events were at a standstill, one had to anticipate and overcome them. But when they speed up, one must slow down; without getting lost under a mass of discourses and the shadow of war (“nuage de la guerre”: literally clouds announcing war), and while keeping undiminished the unforgettable flash of images.” from the Spirit of Terrorism essay post 9/11

    I personally valued how much more important it is to get “slow news” from places like the FT, NYRB, or PBS. 24 hour “real-time” news is an overrated novelty that doesn’t really do what it pretends to do, which is inform and educate. It does the complete opposite. Anyways. Good day.

  • Bill Hicks

    Glad to see GG on Moyers. A meeting of great minds, in discussion. We need more of that.

  • Obie Hanson

    thats not quite it.. but close. I have expressed my opinion.

  • Lee Zaslofsky

    Greenwald mentions the “role of the police and the military in American society” (or words to that effect) as a major political message from the manhunt. I think it is the most important message. Islamophobia is an established part of American discourse, the subject of much discussion and debate.

    The lockdown of a major American city so as to facilitate the capture of one (1) suspect, however dangerous, is new. The willing cooperation of the people of Boston with this unofficial curfew says something about the value Bostonians, and other Americans, place on their freedom.

    The immense amount of force that was displayed on the streets of Boston not long after the bombing occurred was more than a wildly disproportionate response to the task at hand. It was a demonstration that in America, the forces of order are able and willing to mobilize massive force to deal with anything they regard as a threat.

    The manhunt ended with an easy capture of the severely wounded suspect. Though there was some gunfire not long before the capture was made, I don’t think it’s clear that it was initiated by the suspect. If it was, it was soon under control.

    I think most Americans were reassured and excited by the spectacle of a city under siege, but protected by the mighty forces of order. I think that’s rather frightening.