That’s a real headline that I read in my morning newspaper for an Associated Press article on a counter-terrorism summit being hosted by a security firm. Marines, Navy special ops, soldiers, police and firefighters are attending the training demonstration being held on October 31st at a 44-acre resort island on a San Diego Bay.
This tongue-in-cheek event comes after last year’s CDC campaign that “urged Americans to get ready for a zombie apocalypse, as part of a catchy, public health message about the importance of emergency preparedness.”
Halloween is only 3 days away, but you have to admit that America is obsessed by an overwhelming horde of un-dead all year long. I’m sure that a few ‘zombies’ will scratch at my door moaning for fun size candy bars, but a part of me does hope that it’ll just be kids in good makeup and I won’t have to nail plywood over my windows (…like people are doing up and down the east coast getting ready for Hurricane Sandy/Frankenstorm.)
Little do the CDC and our SoCal war games friends know, but a Zombie Apocalypse has, in fact, become my newest irrational fear. I’m a faithful viewer of AMC’s The Walking Dead, despite my nightmares. This summer I read Max Brooks’ 2006 bestseller World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. More nightmares. In these nightmares, however, I never actually encounter a zombie. It is more about the running, the hiding, trying to find food, a secure shelter and weapons.
What I’m really afraid of, I guess, is social collapse. When Hurricane Katrina finally swept out of the Gulf Coast, the compounding horrors of complete disorder during and after the storm dominated the news. A zombie horde may as well have staggered through New Orleans.
I’m beginning to think that it’s okay to be worried. The fact that there is a real event training real military personnel how to deal with a crowd of non-compliant, unarmed individuals kind of scares me.
“But they’re zombies, not people.”
How easy it becomes to dehumanize the opposition in a desperate situation. Like last week on The Walking Dead when Rick machete-d the perfectly alive convict’s head after he shoved Mr. Bitey in Rick’s direction during a Walker melee. Line crossed yet? Who crossed it?
Fear and self-preservation are powerful motivators. Zombies, though, have neither – the problem is that there are just so many of them. They overwhelm. It’s not that they flout the laws of civilization – that would imply consciousness. Zombies don’t have that, either.
At first glance it seems that the zombie has been able to shed our cultural obsession with material goods and physical image. They have simply distilled it down to a single imperative: Consume. Nothing else matters.
The CDC campaign and the emergency response simulation are officially meant to be “playful” and “fun.”
But, what does it mean that a security company named Halo Corp. is training military, law enforcement and medical personnel how to manage (kill?) an overwhelming force of ultimate consumers?
Maybe it means that we should be scared. Board the windows. Stock up on water and batteries. Unwrap a Snickers.