Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Comrades! Watch, Ride, and Report!

stalinesque poster
This strangely Stalinesque poster comes to us courtesy of Fred Reed, who sighted it on the MARC train which runs between Washington DC and Baltimore. Reed is an American expatriate who resides in Mexico. He was back in the US recently for the first time in quite a while, and his impressions from his trip are worth reading.

"Report any unusual activities or packages to the nearest conductor... Watch, Ride, and REPORT!" Yeah, yeah, I get what they're up to. And I hope they apprehend any train-riding terrorists, and send them the same way as the Big Z. Only, don't you think we could steel ourselves against terrorism without going all Stalinesque "1930s socialist realism," "boy meets tractor," "saga of the hydroelectric power dam," "watch your neighbor with fear and loathing," and "report the gibbering train riding homeless person to OGPU"?

Honestly. Whoever dreamed up that poster deserves a position in the Department of Fatherland Security. And I don't mean that as a compliment. Why is it that whenever this country begins to slide in a Stalinesque direction, they do it with either or both of the following two excuses:
  • "Won't somebody please think of the children?!"

  • "It's needed to help us catch the terrorists."
'Nuff said.

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Blogger The Tetrast said...

On the NYC subway there are occasional loudspeaker announcements asking passengers to report any suspicious activity or objects. I seem to remember signs to that effect too. All very workaday, none of it colorful or jaunty, much less Stalinoid-looking or -sounding. A few years ago on a few nights I saw soldiers armed with rifles stationed at an uptown Manhattan subway station. Never saw such a thing in all my years growing up in that neighborhood. (Now I live in Queens.) Early on I heard tell of foiled plots connected with 9/11. I've been unsure how how much stock to place in that claim. I know of one case of an attempted bombing in NYC a month or two after, but I have no way to find out whether it was connected with Al Qaeda or its fans. Anyway, it didn't involve the subway or the el. As for folks who seem undispleased with Al Qaeda, I know of a few, besides the famous noisy but apparently small group of jackasses, some of them weirdly Jawa-like, over in Jackson Heights at 74th St. & 37th Ave.

I think that that poster is definitely odd. If it's straight-up, then there are some banal (now there's a charged word) folks at Homeland Security. But it looks like a not overly subtle satire and looks self-subverting -- the depicted people even look like they're holding red banners. I'm going to send it some friends and ask them what they see, if anything, odd about that poster.

Thursday, June 15, 2006 12:32:00 AM  

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