One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

Terrorists and Karaoke?

Here’s Peter Hessler, in a fascinating New Yorker article on the impact of the Beijing Olympics on thousands of Chinese volunteers:

On [a police officer’s] desk was a stack of police manuals entitled “The Terrorist Prevention Handbook.” While we chatted, I opened one to a random chapter: “What to Do if There’s a Terrorist Attack in a Karaoke Parlor.”

When I first read this, my natural first reaction was to laugh.  That meticulous Chinese authorities would account for every eventuality down to a possible terrorist attack in, of all places, a karaoke parlor seemed only to bolster the stereotype (and at least in part, the reality) of the centralized and all-pervasive control apparatus being mobilized in China.  On second look, though, it did not seem that unreasonable.  Karaoke parlors are popular civilian entertainment venues, which I presume are at least somewhat common in China (particularly if their popularity on the island across the Sea of Japan is any indication).  Like cafés and dischothèques, therefore, they are as likely a terrorist target as any.  Seen in this light, preparing for a terrorist attack while a drunken foreigner belts out Springsteen (or whatever is popular in these karaoke parlors) seems not so much totalitarian as smart policy.

This isn’t to excuse all the rest of the invasiveness and suppression that Chinese authorities undertook under cover of the Olympics…just that it’s a good thing there were no terrorist attacks in karaoke parlors.


September 18, 2008 - Posted by | China

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