Friday, October 14, 2005

Alien and Sedition Acts

It isn’t just low culture and high nicotine cigarettes we export. We do detention camps too, internment style. Florida’s own Wackenhut Corp. in the 1990s was the chief American exporters of that commodity until Wackenhut discovered, through scandal—see below—and low returns, that it wasn’t worth the hassle. But style travels far.

In foreign policy and domestic non-white affairs Australia has been a fifty-first red state of sorts under Prime Minister John Howard, poodling along in Iraq and treating incoming foreigners like errant scud missiles to be diffused, slowly and painfully, on offshore platforms in the shape of islands. Case in point: The internment camp at Nauru. Read the rest, updated...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Pinter's Nobel

I was rooting for Orhan Pamuk and Philip Roth. The Swedish Academy chose Harold Pinter, which is just as well. There’s a Pamuk connection in there somewhere. In late March 1985 Pinter and Arthur Miller went to Turkey on behalf of PEN—the international writers’ association—to speak for writers being silenced, jailed, tortured by the government, whose military was receiving $900 million a year from American taxpayers at the time, no strings attached of course (copper wires aside), those being the Reagan years when human rights were about as hip as Jimmy Carter’s cardigans. Pinter and Miller held a news conference in Istanbul to discuss the abuses. The conference was well attended. The Turkish press reported not a word. Pinter and Miller were invited to schmooze with American and Turkish eminences at the American Embassy. Pinter decided to use the occasion to speak of the tendency of Turkish wardens to stick electrocution rods on prisoners’ genitals. He was thrown out of the embassy. Miller, in solidarity, followed. Pamuk, of course, goes on trial in December for "insulting" Turkish identity. He publicly supports the notion that Turkey shares blame for the genocide of Armenians in 1915, a genocide that inspires elegies to amnesia in much of the world, let alone in Turkey. It is illegal to speak ill of Turkey in Turkey. Pamuk faces three years in jail if convicted. Electrocution rods optional. Pamuk also blames the Turkish military for the death of 30,000 Kurds in southeast Turkey in the 1980s and 1990s. Would the Turkish government intervene on his behalf? Absolutely not, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan tells Le Monde: "The judiciary," he says, "is independent from the executive or the legislative authorities ... the executive authorities cannot interfere with the judiciary." How wonderful to see that Turkey has a John Marshal for prime minister.

Turkey got $1 billion in U.S. "aid" in 2003, a bribe to sway Turkey into joining the invasion of Iraq, or at least opening its borders to American tank traffic. Turkey declined but took the money. Turkey is now poised to be absorbed into the European Union. Meanwhile, Pinter has given up writing. He decided in 2005 to devote all his time to political activism, much of it the reactionary broods in the United States interprets, conveniently, as one-dimensional anti-Americanism, when it is, in fact, one-dimensional anti-Bushism (our Lord and Savior President having no more than one dimension; form follows substance for this Nobel laureate): That is, he opposed the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, called Bush a mass murderer, which, considering the responsibility he bears for the Iraqi fiasco and its pretty massive — and more to the point: pointless — death rates since 2003, is not entirely inaccurate. "And how long will the American people stand for this treachery perpetrated by their elected president? How long will Americans remain asleep while their cherished Constitution is torn to shreds by the fascist fifth column of the Republican right marching under the sign of the cross and the flag?" This (in honor of the not-honored Roth) from The Plot Against America. As the Drudge Regurge so disagreeably says: Developing…

L'Infame: Supreme Call

Poor Harriet Miers. When all else fails—experience, intellect, ballast, literacy (David Brooks today calls her writing a “relentless march of vapid abstractions”)—call in the gods. She has religion, our Lord and Savior President tells us. Not just any religion. None of your pansy Catholic confess-and-you’re-absolved-of-all-adulteries kind that John Roberts wouldn’t discuss, but the hardcore evangelical kind, the kind that gives James Dobson and his Focus on the Fanatics congregations collectively tumescent seizures equaled only by the sight of abortionists, fags and other liberal species burning auto-da-fé style, with Lee Greenwood songs for Te Deums and billboard backdrops by Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. Funny thing about reconstituted conservatives. They’ll preach free market and self-reliance all day long but don’t hesitate a second to call for spiritual welfare, pull the God card, equate blind faith with presumptions of trust the moment their earthly powers fail them. But “fanaticism and contradictions are the prerogative of human nature,” Voltaire tells us (“le fanatisme et les contradictions sont l’apanage de la nature humaine”). Our Lord and Savior is not about to contradict him.