Tuesday, August 5, 2008

ONGENODE ZOMERGAST

One of the Belgian newspapers I sneak the occasional peek at online is De Standaard. This summer, they have a series in which famous Flemings (not me) are asked to provide a few Youtube clips, with a few words of (it seems) either wisdom or silliness, for the online readers' amusement. The people who do this are called zomergasten, or summer guests. It made me think about my own Youtube roamings and here I am then, pretending to be an invitee, but not even making it to the door. I couldn't think of too many clips right now -- just two.

First up: Randy Newman. A few words in defense of our country.

Randy Newman makes two points about the current state of the union. They sound heartfelt, and maybe they are, but they are also deeply cynical. (That's postmodernism for you, my dearest peeps. Read your Vonnegut, if you believe this is not just a quixotic but also an oxymoronic mixture.)

Point 1: Yup, the current occupants in the White House are bad, but they're not as bad as: Nero, Caligula, the Spanish Inquisition (the original architects of waterboarding, as we all know), King Leopold II of Belgium, Hitler, or Stalin. Let that argument (heartfelt, cynical) sink in for a while, will ya?

Point 2 is more insidious: American people are decent folks; they aren't mean. This argument has been around for a while. (Remember Sting's song about the Russians? Russians are, like, totally human beings! They, like, buy groceries and stuff, and have meals! Around a dinner table! Together! As a family! And, wow, did you know that they procreate? Hey, how cute is that? Lil' Russian babies!)
So, yeah, hate the American leaders, but love the American people -- humble folks leading regular lives.

Hm.
However.
In the olden days (you know, mid-twentieth century?) the populace at large could at least plausibly mumble something like Wir haben es nicht gewusst. But now, in the day and age of satellite TV and the Internet, We the People could know absolutely everything there is to know about the Iraq war, if only We the People wanted to.
Get a load of this (as Kurt would say): In our name at least 100,000 and potentially half a million human beings got slaughtered in a country that never attacked us and never posed a threat. But if We the People care about that war at all, We the People care about the 5,000 or so American soldiers who died. The Iraqi people, in the American mind, in the American mainstream media? A rat's ass, a flying fuck at a rolling donut -- if at all, and at most.
Here's my 2 cents: If your leaders tell you to go fight a needless war, killing at least 100,000 civilians along the way, raping the occupied country of its natural resources and bombing it back into the Middle Ages and, as a nation, you roll over and do nothing -- you let it happen, you do not protest, you do not CARE enough to make it an issue, at all, anytime, but especially during election season, worse, you reelect the bastards and strengthen their resolve -- there might be words to describe you, but "mean" would be clearly situated at the weak-ass part of the spectrum.
Just an opinion.
I can put this a little bit stronger: There is no excuse for the American public's apathy vis-a-vis its leaders and vis-a-vis this war and its foreign and domestic consequences.
None.
What excuse could there be?
Civilians cannot plead obedience (in a democracy, nobody outranks a civilian), and nobody can plead ignorance.

There.
Now how about blowing off some steam with another fine and happy song, folks?

Here's Tom Lehrer, just in time to hammer point number 2 and its rebuttal home: It's not, indeed, just Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, and Powell -- it's what we've always done! It's not our fault! It can't be helped! It's in our blood! Send the Marines!
What do we do? We send the Marines!
For might makes right,
And till they've seen the light,
They've got to be protected,
All their rights respected,
'Till somebody we like can be elected.
Phew! That was, dare I say, a narrow escape!

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