Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Ron Callari: Duct & Cover

Duct & Cover

By Ron Callari

The Bush dynasty continues to etch its legacy into the nation’s collective psyche. Bush Senior, pre-September 11th took credit for ending the Cold War, single-handedly. Post –attacks, Bush Junior, not one to be overshadowed by Daddy Dearest ascends to the role of protector against the Axis of Evil and handyman-extraordinaire for home security systems.

One would have thought we had come a long way from the warning sirens of school intercoms of the 50s -- the "Simon-says" civic exercises of the post-War baby boomer generation. "Duck and Cover" was the brainchild of an administration that ascertained school children could be brainwashed into believing they would avoid a nuclear holocaust, as long as they followed the rules.

Naïve? Yes. But the Atomic Age’s positive connotation of power, ingenuity and supremacy was a heady drug for a nation that had just decimated the likes of Hiroshima. And, if following the rules was how we could avoid a similar fate, then lead us on to the bomb shelter and don’t forget that can of Spam.

A short fifty-some-odd years later, with a Republican president back in the White House, Happy Days are here again. Forget nuclear disarmament, anti-ballistic missiles, or even diplomacy. On Feb. 11, 2003, Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge unveiled the Bush Administration's simplistic and most cost-effective weapon to date: duct tape.

Ridge's remedy was a reaction to fears that terrorists could attack the U.S. with toxin-spewing chemical concoctions and that duct tape, normally used to bond joints in heating and cooling ducts, could become the thin gray line of defense between us and our worst enemies.

Forget trying to convince France and Germany to support our ersatz need for a War in Iraq, our mighty adhesive ally is all the security this nation needs in time of crisis. It’s a versatile and durable commodity; able to keep Jennifer Lopez’s low necklines in place; tape shut criminal’s mouths in spy movies and due to its recent popularity, it is now available in assorted colors, one to match every hue of the Terror Alert System.

Mr. DeMille, duct tape is ready for its close-up. In rooms sealed off from fresh air and blue skies we can create our own realities, devoid of terrorists and mass hysteria. What better way to display our patriotic fervor than purchasing a couple of dozen rolls of gray matter for the Gipper? Coupled with Bush’s tax cuts, the low and middle classes will now also be able to contribute to the economy.

In fact we can blanket the whole country with our favorite adhesive. Slapped down securely to the east and west coasts and along the Canadian and Mexican borders, if we use bubble wrap, popping bubbles will solve the fresh air problem and will be a great distraction for the kids.

However, let’s keep the time continuum in perspective, here. In the 50s, it took us several years to get over our Manchurian Candidate obedience to the "duck and cover" civil defense drills. Today we are a much more sophisticated people. In the Electronic Age, positions can change at lightning speed. In less than four days after Ridge’s first taping, Bush urged his Homeland Security Commander-in-Chief to downplay his original message – to adhere to a less stick-tuitive plan.

With major backpedaling in play, Ridge noted: "I want to make something very, very clear at this point. We do not want individuals or families to start sealing their doors or windows." The administration said the department had only recommended that people secure those items as part of an emergency supply kit to be used, "in the unlikely but possible event something could occur in your community."

Too little too late? What is at stake here is not just the importance of a popular adhesive, but a system of values. Duct tape is analogous to the easy fix that requires little thought. "It’s perfect for the lazy guy that doesn’t know how to fix things the right way", said Tim Nyberg, a co-author of the satiric "Jumbo Duct Tape Book". "If you see anything fixed with duct tape," he added, "it says the person didn’t know what he was doing."

Perhaps the leaders in charge of taping our War on Terror together should think twice before trying to placate a nation with quick-fix schemes. We are little wiser and lot more cynical about a world that is no longer black and white. And no shade of gray (tape or otherwise) is going to make us feel better about that.

Duck and cover me once, shame on you! Duct and cover me twice, shame on me!

[EDITOR'S POSTSCRIPT: After this column was written it was revealed in the Washington Post by columnist Al Kamen that: "nearly half -- 46 percent to be precise -- of the duct tape sold in [the US] is manufactured by a company in Avon, Ohio. And the founder of that company, that would be Jack Kahl, gave how much to the Republican National Committee and other GOP committees in the 2000 election cycle? Would that be more than $100,000?"]


Ron Callari is a freelance journalist and editorial cartoonist who resides in Jersey City, New Jersey. He and co-creator Jack Pittman produce kidd millennium cartoons weekly. See…

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news