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To top of this day's posts Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The New York Times -- which, we're told, is the flagship of The Liberalmedia � was no doubt trying to mend its ways when it dutifully included the following statutory qualification in its reporting of Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize acceptance speech (emphasis mine):

The playwright, known in recent years as much for his fiery anti-Americanism as for his spare prose style and haunting, elliptical plays...

He was "anti-American" because he eloquently criticized American foreign policy, or as the NYT puts it (again, emphasis mine):

Mr. Pinter attacked American foreign policy since World War II, saying that while the crimes of the Soviet Union had been well documented, those of the United States had not.

Having established the correct perspective for the reader, it was then safe enough to reveal Pinter's message:

Mr. Pinter said it was the duty of the writer to hold an image up to scrutiny, and the duty of citizens "to define the real truth of our lives and our societies."

The only thing written by Harold Pinter that I've read is his Nobel lecture. Years ago I saw one of his plays in New York, and didn't quite get it. That might make me a philistine, but at least I ain't one of The Liberalelite. So, if what he says resonates with me, chances are that it does with other non-Liberalelite folks as well:

We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'.

The customary "pro-American" response to this is that this pales in comparison to Saddam Hussein's brutal reign over Iraq, which America ended. Besides, this is the �war on terror� that we must fight where our enemy lives, in order to remain secure in our homes. And, of course, we are America, and we only want to spread freedom and democracy in the world. This response begins with the implicit assumption that, no matter what our government does internationally, it is unlikely that its goals are anything but honorable; and, should there be a tragic outcome for others affected by our actions, it couldn't be helped, and is an acceptable price to pay for our ultimate goals. In case of war, there's always the need to "support our troops," so anything but support for their Commander-in-Chief would undermine their heroic sacrifices. This is the pitch of the salesman that is Pinter's America:

As a salesman [the U.S.] is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love.

Americans have bought the pitch and become loyal consumers of this commodity. We let it blind us as recently as November of last year, when we needed to see clearly, and now we're complaining that we were duped. That wasn't very pro-American of us. You could even say that we were anti-American. We accepted the claims of our government, without bothering to inform ourselves. This, unfortunately, is hardly the first time when we have been party to the mockery of our own democracy, by remaining uninterested in what our government does abroad in our name.

Our current President's lack of knowledge and curiosity provides ample fodder for our comics, but the joke's on us. He represents us, particularly since we re-elected him. Perhaps his plummeting poll numbers also reflect the American people's realization that they dropped the ball as citizens of a democracy. If so, then we might have taken a truly pro-American step, and Harold Pinter would likely applaud us (yes, emphasis mine):

I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.

September 11 punctured America's bubble of invincibility. If our leaders fail to realize that it was indeed a bubble, not a shield, then I hope that we can enlighten them. This is probably not what Congressman John Murtha meant when he said that �the American public are way ahead of us.� He has pragmatic concerns for our military, and rightly so. However, if Americans cannot see beyond extricating themselves from this misadventure and bringing our troops home, then we'll have failed to appreciate our folly. America has the power, might and know-how to impose our will outside our borders in a way that no other nation can, but this, by itself, makes us neither invulnerable, nor effective as a world leader, particularly if we like to think of ourselves as seeking to spread our enlightened principles. If we are not prepared to engage with the rest of the world, then those whom we give the power to act on our behalf will have to do so assuming our consent, because we are not exceptional enough not to need our co-inhabitants on the planet.

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6:17:29 PM  To top of this post

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