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MENTAL AND MORAL DISTANCE

Writing in 1866 Jules Verne tells the story of engineer Robur. An illustration in The Flight of Engineer Robur, the airship glides majestically over Paris, the capital of Europe. Powerful searchlights shine on the waters of the Seine, over the quays, bridges, and facades. Astonished but unworried, the people gaze up into the sky, amazed at the unusual sight but without fear, without feeling the need to seek cover. In the next illustration the airship floats just as majestically and inaccessibly over Africa. But here it is not a matter merely of illumination. Here the engineer intervenes in the events on the ground. With the natural authority assumed by the civilised to police the savage, he stops a crime from taking place. The airship's weapons come into play, and death and destruction rain down on the black criminals, who, screaming in terror, try to escape the murderous fire.


Sven Lindqvist speaking at Shock and Awe: a hundred years of bombing from above conference. 2011




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