Security, Domestic Violence
April 30, 2003
By Leilla Matsui
For the average American TV viewer, the war ended when recently-released
POW's led flag-festooned parades down Main Street, Texas.
But for most it was the rented Kurdish dancers on the streets
of Baghdad that convinced them that freedom now rings from
the open sores and sewers left in the wake of US/British bombing
The shock and awe of coalition pyrotechnics over the skies
of Baghdad nearly a month ago became little more than "aw,
shucks" when Iraq's priceless antiquities and treasures
were liberated from their museum resting places. The American
news media, not wanting to dampen the festive mood of the
looters or their cheering ringleader, Donald Rumsfeld, dismissed
the incident to focus on the bigger tragedy - private Jessica
Lynch's weight loss during captivity, and other American casualties.
Still, the canned frosting finale on the confectionary coverage
had to be the Saddam statue's comically staged and bungled
toppling from its pedestal. American cable news networks interrupted
their regularly scheduled programming on April 9th to bring
us almost 24 hours of "Iraq's Funniest Home Videos."
Americans, it seems, just can't get enough of Kurdish dancing.
The majority of Americans, though, knew the war was really
and truly over was when the major networks yanked their "embeds"
out of Basra and put them to work in Modesto, California,
where the real action was just starting to play out.
For those of us fed up with military homecoming parades
and demolished palace toilets, (the staples of post-invasion
reportage on Iraq), FOX and CNN's renewed and aggressive coverage
of the missing Modesto mother-to-be, Laci Peterson, comes
almost as a welcome relief. One could argue, however, that
Iraq's plundered and eviscerated artifacts and the discovery
of the pregnant 27 year old's remains are both revealing examples
of the Bush administration's agenda to corporatize, at any
cost, all aspects of social and economic life at home and
For White House hawks, the destruction of all evidence of
Iraq's history and civilization conveniently started a new
calendar page - the year one for capital's triumphant monuments
over ground zero. For a Modesto, California fertilizer salesman,
an unwanted, pregnant wife was just more dead wood to be downsized.
In "Bowling for Columbine," filmmaker Michael
Moore cites the bombing of Kosovo as a starting point for
the rampage that led to the student body count of Columbine
Highschool by two of its own students - products, he argues,
of the institutionalized violence embraced by the town where
the massacre took place. As home to the Lockheed Corporation
where missiles and other weaponry are manufactured for the
Department of Defense, it's hardly a coincidence that Littleton,
Colorado, has been turning out killers over several generations.
Should it really come as any surprise then, Moore argues,
that two of its own sons could interpret this meaning literally?
Could the suspect in custody in the Laci Peterson case be
yet another prodigal son putting a very personal spin on this
particular administration's policies?
Laci Peterson's murder, unlike the Columbine massacre, did
not occur during any full-blown conflict. On the contrary,
her disappearance on Christmas Eve came at a time when Bush
hawks were merely squawking about regime change in Iraq. Still,
stupid white guys had every reason to feel smugly confident
that their appointed leadership had only their interests in
mind. Regime change could just as easily be interpreted to
include one's wife.
Scott Peterson, the recently arraigned suspect in his wife's
murder seems to have done his own number crunching in the
spirit of disgraced Enron execs, doing the devil's calculus
to maximize short-term profit gains. In this case, more hot-buttered
booty action from a San Bernardino masseuse named Amber.
Again, we can draw gruesome visual parallels between the
discovery of Laci Peterson's dislodged fetus in San Francisco
Bay and later, her headless torso, coming in on the heels
of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's verbal victory laps
around the gutted museums and libraries of Baghdad. This was
the sound of freedom, remember? The war-whoop of the newly
liberated bachelor yucking it up at his own stag party.
As Governor of Texas, GW used the festive occasion of death
row inmate Karla Faye Tucker's last-ditch appeal on the eve
of her execution to try his hand at stand-up comedy. His on-camera
impersonation of white trash going down the chute could easily
have been interpreted as an official endorsement of domestic
violence. Here was a politician familiar with the patter of
angry white guys in pick-up trucks everywhere. By the same
token, the less-than-grieving Scott Peterson's pre-arrest
cameo appearances at the volunteer centre where he was supposedly
assisting in the search for his missing wife gave us the clearest
glimpse yet of a dirt-bag (oops, fertilizer) salesman working
the room at a Travelodge convention centre - the familiarly
glib frat-boy very much at home in the spotlight. A chip off
the old presidential block, mini-me Scott Peterson puts forth
a similar aura of faux concern that does little to conceal
a drainhole where other people might have a conscience.
Like his presidential pater, the shoulder slapping, high-fiving
Scotty-boy can summon forth when necessary divine entities
to do his P.R. In Scott's case, it was the "spirit"
of Laci, who'd dropped by the centre to thank the volunteers
for their efforts in finding her. Surprisingly, few people
commented on the fact that foul-play was still just another
scenario the police were toying with during the investigation.
No one at that point had ruled out the possibility that Ms.
Peterson would return home safe and unharmed. Scott himself
was insisting this was indeed the case, all the while channeling
the spirit of his dead spouse to deal with the press.
George W. Bush, no stranger himself to syphillitic sugar
plums dancing in his head applied a similar logic to push
forth his Apocalyptic vision of a Saddam-less Iraq, where
the maimed and dead danced on the streets and tossed ectoplasmic
rose petals towards oncoming tanks.
Not surprisingly, both men share a tendency to mangle even
the simplest of platitudes when called upon to look grim -
all part and parcel of the sociopath's inability to deal with
emotional issues beyond a few pre-scripted banalities. Those
axioms of evil spoonfed to then by trusted aides and legal
teams become just more pretzels to choke on. Neither seem
capable for that matter of sustaining sincerity beyond the
time it takes to summon up a cliché. For them, everything
is divine but certainly nothing is sacred.
Like Bush, Peterson's motives for his slayings have yet
to be fully determined. Why the people of Iraq needed to be
liberated, in many cases, from their own bodies is still a
topic of wide debate. Peterson's decision to to do away with
his own wife and unborn son has a similarly fuzzy logic but
one that mirrors in many ways, the regime's fundamental goals
of funneling all tax dollars into military coffers and dispensing
with such frills as education and healthcare.
For a weekend warrior like Scott, whose hunting and fishing
trips were, no doubt, jeopardized by the immediate and future
demands of a wife and fetus, this may have been the deciding
factor in his decision to divest himself of them in order
to protect his remaining assets. Indeed both men share a rugged
disrespect for the great outdoors in their mutual fondness
for all-terrain gas guzzlers and even a similarly predatory
view of the scenery. In his own way Scott Peterson, behaved
like any White House CEO looking at the bottom line through
a cocked gun barrel, aiming to strike poor performers from
the company portfolio.
The unfortunate Laci Peterson is just another name we can
add to the swelling death toll on Bush's watch; another casualty
of the aggressions being waged from the corporate homefront
while more nameless bodies pile up overseas. Scott Peterson,
now facing the death penalty, will pay the ultimate price
for adhering to the principles of the second Bush's new world
order. While it would be easy to adopt the popular pundit
view of Scott Peterson as a singular abberation, exempt from
any claim to humanity, we would be closer to solving his riddle
by examining his pathology within the context of "homeland
security" and what it really means on the domestic front.