As I mentioned earlier, the conservative talking heads are coming all over themselves at the fictional nuking of Valencia, CA on 24. Now, the big caveat here is that I've never seen the show, and don't intend to, so I'm not sure who's responsible for the fictional attack, how it's being portrayed, and so forth -- and, frankly, I don't care. What interests me is the reaction to it among right-wingers; while they're trying desperately to convince us that it represents a dire warning of what our sinister enemies among the Islamist horde have in store for us, it's pretty obvious that what it really represents for them is a masturbation fantasy.

Remember, these people essentially make their living by fearmongering. With social policies that center around frowny prohibition and economic policies that serve only to fatten the fat, the only way they have to get the majority of Americans to vote for the GOP is to terrify them into thinking that only the candidates of the Republican Party have the requisite stones to stand up to the dusky blood-drinkers who even now are trying to find a way to stuff a thermonuclear warhead into a briefcase. Their leaders invoke "the smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud", while they themselves spin endless fantasies about nuke-blasted American urban centers (which James Lileks always and inexplicably places in Seattle) to explain why we can't elect someone who would give us health insurance. They conjure images of a major MSA being reduced to radioactive Ho Ho wrappers as a vision of the unimaginable horror our enemies have in store for us (cut to Onion editorial cartoon of a bearded mullah preparing to rape Lady Liberty), but for them, 'tis a consummation devoutly to be wished: have no doubt that in an abstract sense, if not a real one, they would be immensely satisfied if some jihadi took out a nonessential flyover so that all their raving and panicky predictions would be justified.

Thus we come to this column by Lileks' buddy, Hugh "Paint the Map Red" Hewitt, who answers the unmade charge that 24 has 'gone too far' by noting the allegedly low Valencia bodycount and saying that if anything, it hasn't gone far enough. "Eventually another nuke will go off," he assures us, referring to the real world and not the one of 24, "and it is not likely to be the obvious action of a state actor." This is a curious assertion to make, given that there are tens of thousands of nuclear weapons in the hands of state actors and, as far as anyone knows, none in the hands of individuals. Also, the only times nukes have ever been used is by states, and many states -- including the U.S. -- are continuing to produce them. Our current strategy for fighting terrorism in the middle east includes as a key component the possible use of low-yield tactical nukes. But, hey, whatever, reality: Hugh says it'll be raghead rebels and the teevee proves him right, unless it doesn't.

"Would the BBC have been going 'too far'," asks Hugh, "if in 1937 it had broadcast a radio drama depicting life in a Hitler-authorized death camp where hundreds of thousands of Jews were being executed in gas chambers, one of a string of such camps springing up across Europe?" Not really. But how about if Winston Churchill wanked himself to sleep at night by thinking about the Nazi death camps? Maybe that would have been going too far. Or how about if it turned out there weren't any Nazi death camps? Or that the death camps in the drama were portrayed as being authorized by Canada rather than Germany? Too far? I dunno, I don't have my own talk show.

"An event much more likely to occur in our lifetime than any catastrophe unleashed by global warming has been put on the table," says Hugh, no doubt giving all the starving people in Africa a good chuckle, "and suddenly tongues are wagging about responsibility." Whose tongues? I haven't heard anyone reading 24 the riot act, and even if someone is, who cares? It's one of the most popular shows on TV. "Americans don't like to think of such an attack upon America," bloviates punditry's own Triple H, "but prior to 9/11, they didn't like to think of airplanes crashing into skyscrapers". Man, true! I mean, before 9/11, I can hardly think of any movies that depicted a planned terror attack on or invasion of America. Except for a few hundred.

"A shock to many, an upsetting nightmare for others," he concludes, "a depiction of a happy ending for our enemies." And for some? A propagandist wet dream.

Also, be sure to check out some of the delightful comments made by Town Hall readers:

"If this sort of event happened in the US, Muslims, rightly or wrongly (although it's inconceivable to me that any other group would muster the will to try to detonate a nuclear weapon on US soil), the Muslims would be held responsible by an incredibly vindictive faction of our nation. There would be a pogrom against Muslims, and quite honestly I as a citizen and as a member of the military would do nothing to stop it. Actually, if the bomb destroyed ACLU Hq, we'd kill two birds with one stone."

"Back when I was in high school, there was the scaremongering 'The Day After.' Realistic in its portrayal, perhaps, but if only we had listened to its producers and the rest of the Left, and not Ronald Reagan. Why, the good ol' Soviet Union would still be here! No, the Socialists are mad because '24' is calling a spade a spade, and the terrorists this season are much more realistic: Islamic fanatics who hate the West, more specifically, the US, and have no compunction about killing anyone and everyone whom they hate."

"Now, for retaliation, if I could just see Iran turned into a parking lot on the show, I'd be the MOST loyal viewer they have."

"If a nuke were detonated in Los Angeles Mexico would be really angry that an atomic bomb had gone off in their country."

"I fully expect several suitcase nukes to be exploded in 4 or 5 of our major cities before 2015. With the Congress of the United States, both Democrat and Republican advocating surrender, the Bush admistration is just about all that stands in their way."

"Destroying Hollywood is in the world's best interest, and that is why we must praise Islamists. They would rid us of the intestinal aesthetic pests that are destroying the US."

"Would it not be grand (if not wishful thinking) to have President Palmer enact draconian measures to counteract terrorism....and have it work out well? Just a dream on my part, much like the obliteration of Hollywood."


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