Sunday, January 25, 2009

You tell me: did this one slip through the cracks, or have you heard about it? Because I've yet to hear anyone gossip, horrified, around the watercooler about it, and it's that kind of news.

In a small town in Belgium on Friday, a man in black and white face paint breaks into a daycare center and, unprovoked, starts stabbing babies with an 8-inch knife. Kills a nine-month old, a six-month old, and one caregiving employee, and wounds (I hate how vague that word can be-- stabs) ten more children and two more adults. When they found him later, he had the addresses of two other day care centers in his backpack.

This is doing with news what movies like Saw and Hostel did with entertainment (and I use that term loosely)-- ripping a jaded generation harshly out of its comfort level of "shit happens". I don't consider myself a particularly sensitive or maternal person, but, walking into a daycare center and stabbing babies? What the fuck?

Obviously, an outpouring of support and condolences have manifested themselves in every form, and apparently there is a facebook group you can join if you'd like to take a stand-- that is to say, if you'd like to boldly make that controversial political statement, "I don't support baby stabbing." I have to wonder if these kinds of measures really bring any solace to the victim's families, or if it is simply the kind of reaction that happens an overstimulated, internet-bound generation finds itself, for the first time, shocked.

Perhaps I'd be more inclined to offer my cyber-regret if not for how quickly my sorrow turned to annoyance: the end of the first article I read about this truly heinous crime ended with this sentiment from a local bakeshop owner: "It's something you here about in America, not here."

As a jaded, young, American national, we have now seen how it takes baby stabbings to shock me, and, evidently, the accusation of a free-wheeling, baby-stabbing morale climate to offend my ailing sense of patriotism. You expect this to happen in America, Belgium? Really? I guess our ignorant, benevolent attitude towards you isn't a two-way street: all we every expected out of you were waffles. I tried to put this quote behind me, reminding myself that this was the attitude of but one, traumatized baker; then I realized that a similar quote I read in a seperate article wasn't a second translation of the words of the original man, but a second expressing the exact same idea. "We thought that things like this only happened in the United States and now we see that in Belgium, in a small village like this ... that such a thing could happen, it is very, very bad,"

There's a lot to mourn for here. The loss of two young children, the injury of ten more, the hurt and killed caregivers, the traumatized community. The loss, perhaps, of the entire Belgian nation's innocence. And, not insignificantly, the realization that this is how bad things have gotten: we all knew that America's standing in the eyes of the world took a beating during the Bush Administration. I guess we just didn't know it was such a bloody, wailing massacre.

Good luck turning it around for us, Obama. If the rest of the world is to be believed, you better hope you don't let us down.

On with it.