Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Some great writing...

I usually don't read Salon because I can't stand sitting through the commercials but when The Rude Pundit says I'd better go least you suspect it's going to be worth the read.....As usual, I'll give the following caveat about "The Rude One"...if you can't tolerate profanity, don't click on the link.

Having now said what I don't like about Salon, I'll tell you what I DO like. It's some of the best writing on the web by some of the best intellectuals. (With the possible exception of Christopher Hitchens and his occassional guest rant.) Anyway today's feature is written by Gary Kamiya and is entitled Theatre of Blood. In this incredible article, we see Bush's war in the context of Theatre and just like live Theatre has always done, it holds up a mirror through which we see who we really are.

here are some snippets:

But overlooked in the disgust over the primitive, vengeful nature of Saddam's execution is the fact that Bush's entire Iraq war, like most wars, was ultimately an act of revenge. There is no such thing as a clean war: As Goya said in the title of one of his horrific etchings of war, "This always happens." When you set out to kill people, you cannot control what happens afterward; as in revenge tragedy, death inspires more death. Saddam's ugly end is no unfortunate anomaly, it is a hideous microcosm of the entire war -- one started by Bush, but supported by a large percentage of the American people, who were driven by the same primitive passions that led Muqtada al-Sadr's men to curse a man about to die. Before we throw stones at the Iraqis for their tribal vengefulness, we would do well to contemplate the degree to which we share it, and think again before we launch a vengeful war.


America has always been obsessed with revenge. The angry god who holds sinners in his hands is a national archetype going back to Jonathan Edwards. Melville's Ahab wants to smite the White Whale out of vengeance. And the aggrieved hero who seeks vengeance continues to dominate our popular culture, from "Dirty Harry" to "Death Wish" to "Kill Bill." "Payback is a bitch" and "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" are our watchwords, only slightly checked by "Don't get mad, get even."


But if revenge is a universal American obsession, its true home is on the political right. Fear, resentment and calls for revenge are closely related, and these qualities -- together with a belief that "real" Americans and "authentic" emotions and beliefs have been pushed aside by phony elites -- have long driven right-wing politics. The 1930s demagogue Father Coughlin, whose enormously popular broadcasts combined anti-capitalism, anti-Communism and anti-Semitism, utilized them; so did Joe McCarthy. The rise of the "Reagan Democrats," working-class and lower-middle-class whites whose racially tinged resentment of do-gooder social programs drove them to the right, reshaped America's entire political landscape.

Go ahead and click on the Salon link and click through the Mazda's a long read but the kind that enriches the soul if not the intellect.

It's unusual fro me to make such a grandiose statement about an article and maybe even a bit pretentious but Kamiya says out loud some of the things that I have felt but have been too much of a coward to openly express ever since September 11, 2001. To see what I mean, examine this fragment from one of the above "snippets":

"-- together with a belief that "real" Americans and "authentic" emotions and beliefs have been pushed aside by phony elites -- have long driven right-wing politics."

Got that? In those awful days immediately following 9/11/01, anybody who didn't vow revenge for the destruction of the twin towers was not only unpatriotic, but also not a "real" or "authentic" American. Any thoughts I may have silently harbored about "capturing" the terrorists and "bringing them to justice (trial)" was quickly followed by a twinge of guilt that there must be something wrong with me because I wasn't among the "boot up the ass" crowd championed by Toby Keith . In a sense, I was cowed by the emotions stirred by the theatre of Bush standing with the bullhorn with a firefighter on the rubble of the World Trade Centers; by the theatre of Bush landing aboard an Aircraft Carrier to declare "Mission Accomplished". (see picture above) Almost, but not quite, all of us were cowed into it.

It's all been theatre.

It's all been smoke and mirrors to make us buy-in to his fantasy vision.

Kamiya compares Bush's "revenge drama to the Jacobian Revenge Tragedy and gives us a lesson in not only theatre history, but also in the evolution of human thought about evil, revenge, justice and war. I feel like I just received a Master's Degree in Ethics after reading this article which means only that I feel enriched by it.

If you want to talk about it, we can carry on a conversation in the comments section.....I'm looking forward to it...

I wonder.

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