Sunday February 23, 2014
'Henny Penny, When the Sky Fell' is Tamarian for ... ?
Ring a bell? In April 2003, when the press reported all the looting occurring in Baghdad after the fall of Saddam Hussein, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld didn't think it important. He said, “Stuff happens.” He talked about seeing on TV news the same shot of a man stealing the same vase over and over again. He said, “Is it possible that there were that many vases in the whole country?” The press corps, to its discredit, laughed along with him.
Rumsfeld also said, “And it was just Henny Penny, the sky is falling.”
Henny Penny is a compatriot of Chicken Little, the central figure in a folk tale about false hysteria over imminent doom. Rumsfeld was suggesting that the press, which tends to go negative, or at least sensational, was being hysterical about the looting. The world wasn't coming to an end. Things in Iraq weren't bad.
Except they were. Allowing the lootingóof not only stores and buildings but national museums and archivesówas the U.S.'s first toward losing the peace; toward losing, as we said in an earlier war, the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.
Watching “No End in Sight,” I guess I turned that phrase over in my head until it wound up in the past tense, where it sounded distinctly Tamarian. For the non-“Star Trek” geeks in the crowd, Tamarian is a language of metaphor where historical or mythological incidents mean everyday things. So “Sokath, his eyes uncovered” means understanding. “Temba, his arms wide,” means a gift. And “Shaka, when the walls fell,” means failure.
And “Henny Penny, when the sky fell”?
It means the opposite of Henny Penny. It means when an authority figure dismisses an imminent doom that is in fact about to occur. It means when an authority figure dismisses the evidence at hand for the storyline in their head.
It means the sky is about to fall.
Heckuva job, Rummy.