The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, October 15, 2002  

Violence in Washington and Violence in Bali

Tim Dunlop is an Australian gentleman living with his family in the Washington, D.C., area, who also is the proprietor of The Road to Surfdom.

His has been a consistently calm, reasoned, and sensitive voice expressing the fear and pain of those who experienced or somehow were touched by two separate tragedies of late: the apparent terrorist attack in Bali, the victims of which were largely Australian nationals, and the ongoing, seemingly interminable shooting spree in the greater Washington area.

While reading his recent posts I was struck by his measured response to some of the absurdities associated with both tragedies. As one who is known to fly off the handle more often than is warranted, I found Dunlop’s rational but also critical responses to crass attempts to exploit, in particular, the deaths of so many Australians to be exemplary both in their intent and in their effect.

As for my own thoughts, for what they are worth, on the matter of the Washington-area shootings, I have been struck by how frequently the sniper has been out to kill. My memory may need some jogging, and if you can help please feel free to send me a note, but I cannot recall another serial killer who acted so quickly, who left so little time between his deadly ventures.

I have not heard or read this aspect of the sniper’s M.O. mentioned in media reports, but it may very well have been as I have not been able to follow the situation as closely as I would like. That, of itself, has been difficult, as I lived in Washington for 11 years and am very familiar with most of the areas in which the shootings so far have occurred, and I have friends and family in the area. The notion that my nephew need be protected as he goes to school is not one to which I adapt easily.

With respect to the horrific events in Bali, I am speechless. I cannot imagine the shock of those visiting there who were forced to realize that this island paradise was selected as the stage for unspeakable horror. And, while no one person, and no one particular nationality, is more or less worthy of being spared such a tragedy, the deaths of so many innocent Australians weigh heavily.

These were Australians, citizens of a peaceful and non-aggressive country, one that is the very antithesis of empire, one that continually has stepped forward to provide troops to maintain peace, to separate warring parties, and to defend the helpless. Punishment for their country’s support of the U.S.? Perhaps. A convenient target, geographically speaking? Probably. Yet another victim of decimated aspirations and delusional reparations? Absolutely.

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