Revenge Porn

There is probably no way for me to write this without tripping over some bloodthirsty reactionary’s sensibilities, but you know, I don’t really give a damn.

In my home town, too.

A St. Louis publishing company has released a 9/11 coloring book.  There is a reaction to it here.  Wonderful cover.


Very patriotic.  Nothing violent on the cover itself, but there are the twin towers and, I think, the proposed memorial tower.

Oh yes, and a cross.  This is, after all, commemorating the assault by Muslims against Christians.

The subtitle is interesting: A Graphic Coloring Novel on the Events of September 11, 2001.

A novel.


Well, it is rated PG, I suppose that’s something.


One of the inside images has been getting a great deal of press as an example of what can be found inside.

Yes, indeed.  A depiction of a SEAL shooting Osama Bin Laden, through one of his wives.  They even made sure you could see the bullet.  They have also depicted Bin Laden as something of a coward—he’s clearly cringing behind the brave woman set to take the shot for him.

This is about as bad as the Easter Baskets Walmart offered one year full of missiles and bombs.

Let me be clear here:  I do not mourn Osama Bin Laden.  I feel he was a hateful man who did terrible things and has left the world a much more dangerous place than it was before.  I might have certain moral quibbles about the manner of his demise, but one of my overwhelming feelings is that this is how it ought to have been done back in 2001 and 2002.  The excessive eruption of American military response that has left us with depleted moral force in a world that was already ambivalent about us, mired in two wars that should have been over long ago had they not been disastrously mishandled (and which, according to a recent study, has cost us close to 60 billion in funds stolen by contractors in Iraq alone), and with a hair-trigger police-state mentality that has crippled us in actual problem-solving, much higher energy costs, and a political landscape that will require a combination of Solomon, George Washington, and Albert Einstein to untangle was the most egregious example of vengeance-seeking since Johnson’s refusal to get out of Vietnam.  Had we concentrated on finding Bin Laden and sending special teams to go get him, we would have accomplished much m0re.

But that would have meant a trial, probably, and a stage on which he might have aired his complaints.  And after all we had a president with something to prove and a vice president whose lust for power is rarely found outside of a bad novel.

So we now have a coloring book to do more damage by covering up the farce that the last decade has been in the eyes of children who will come of age learning the official version, reinforced by the simple activity of filling in between the lines the pictures in a novel that is basically about revenge.

I suppose it would be a hard thing to sell if it told the truth, which is that basically in the aftermath of 9/11 America enjoyed more absolute global sympathy than at any time since WWII and we squandered it by acting stupidly.  All this know-how—and we have a lot of that, really—ignored, misused, pissed away.

It’s possible to characterize almost every war, especially since the end of the 19th Century, as a means by which industry has made more money.  There’s a component of that to every conflict, even WWII, which really was about evil in the world.  But I can’t think of one that has been more nakedly so than Iraq.  With the revelation of the graft and corruption and the outright theft and the complete lack of accountability, it is impossible not to see it as having been instigated for the sole benefit of multinationals, Halliburton being first and foremost.

But we can’t tell kids that.  Can’t have them grow up thinking the people who run their country can ever be stupid, or greedy, or vain, or misguided, or duped, or simply wrong.  Can’t have that.

So let’s dress it up like another excusable example of John Wayne diplomacy.



Published by Mark Tiedemann

5 comments on “Revenge Porn”

  1. I basically agree with you — but in the illustration, the rifleman has a clear shot at significant parts of Bin Laden’s body and his head, and the bullet position looks to me like he’s aimed for the upper chest. (He’s to the left of us, so he can see more of Bin Laden than we can.)

  2. True, but this is more John Wayne stuff—the American sharpshooter who never misses. There are shooters like that, but they’re the exception, and it’s very Hollywood. I suppose what got to me more was the “cowering” image it portrays, and with perhaps unintentional irony since Bin Laden’s brand of Islam yields few rights to women and yet here he is being shielded by one.

    The whole thing leaves a sour taste in mouth.

  3. I don’t think I have words to adequately describe the horror and revulsion I feel towards this “coloring book”.

    This is hate, pure and simple, hate masquerading as patriotism. I want to think that Americans will turn away from this, or, better, speak out against it. I am not Christian, but I’d like to think that Christians will recognize that the attack on 9/11 was about extremism, bullying, and politics, not religion.

  4. Well… I suppose I have a few things to say which are likely to be ill received, but then, isn’t that at least half of the fun?

    As for the “coloring book”: it seems to me to be an accurate representation of current (and recent) American hubris – I am not at all surprised to see such filth being published in our name.

    As for agreeing with taking him out and avoiding a trial where he might attain “a stage on which he might have aired his complaints” – why are we so afraid of hearing his complaints? A great many of them are perfectly valid (and a great many were not): regardless of the validity or lack of validity of his “complaints”, airing them publicly would have reinforced our (now lost) sense of allowing everyone, no matter how vile, to present their beef to the Jury and to do so in a fair an impartial manner. It seems to me that Americans are now so afraid of hearing ANY “ideas” that cannot be immediately sublimated into our collective sense of jingoist pseudo-patriotism, that we are completely and totally lost. We have long been the worlds leading installer and maintainer of egregiously homicidal dictators that much of the world does genuinely hate us, and with damn good reason.

    My best friend is a transplanted new yawker, and his comment to me on the phone as we both watched the second tower take it’s swan dive was telling: “It’s about time someone woke up and fought back”. Think about that for a second: this is a guy who grew up with the WTC symbol of un-rentable and conspicuous status space, and his first thought was relief that the war had finally started? What is he seeing that so many others may be missing: perhaps we really are all “little Eichmanns” after all?

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