Friday, April 7, 2017

Telling Cultural Citations In Coverage of the Syria Strikes

MSNBC's Brian William oddly cites Leonard Cohen in admiring the beauty of American missles during the Syrian strike

While covering the American Tomahawk air strikes on Syrian air bases, MSNBC's Brian Williams made a telling cultural citation.  Williams fused his reportage with a literary allusion from recently deceased poet/songwriter Leonard Cohen. 

Williams keyed off of the fragment "I am guided by the beauty of our weapons."  But the lyric was lifted from the 1988 song "First We Take Manhattan", which was a sui generis take on terrorism.

Leonard Cohen said of the song "First We Take Manhattan":

I think it means exactly what it says. It is a terrorist song. I think it's a response to terrorism. There's something about terrorism that I've always admired. The fact that there are no alibis or no compromises. That position is always very attractive. I don't like it when it's manifested on the physical plane – I don't really enjoy the terrorist activities – but Psychic Terrorism. I remember there was a great poem by Irving Layton that I once read, I'll give you a paraphrase of it. It was 'well, you guys blow up an occasional airline and kill a few children here and there', he says. 'But our terrorists, Jesus, Freud, Marx, Einstein. The whole world is still quaking.

Notwithstanding the uncomfortable admiration for the beauty of weapons of violence being used, it hardly seems apropos other than to appeal to those living "in the city".  In addition, it is dubious that knowing the full context of the quote that Leonard Cohen would play well in Peoria. Which would explain the twitter-storm over William's bon mot.

Maybe the disgraced ex NBC anchor could sound more convincing selling Conflate-Gate material.

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