February 2, 2004

An angry man

By Stephen Gowans

Like forensic pathologists who went looking for a genocide in Kosovo and found none, David Kay went looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and found nothing. But anyone whose IQ hovers even a shade over 95 knew, short of Washington doing a Mark Furman and planting its own evidence, that this was all but inevitable. Few mouths are agape. Still, the press is playing along, treating Kay's "we were all wrong" pronouncement as if it is something other than expected, in much the same way people at a party carry on talking to each other as if nothing's awry, after someone has let go a particularly malodorous fart.

Sincerity is never to be questioned, so rather than saying plainly that Bush made the whole thing up, as Clinton made up the genocide in Kosovo and transformed a pill factory in Sudan into a phoney chemical weapons lab to justify a cruise missile attack, we're treated to speculation about how the intelligence Bush received came to be faulty. To believe Bush was a passive recipient of flawed intelligence (which anyone could be excused of possessing, because, you know, we were all wrong) one would have to forget that Bush was planning to escalate Clinton's war on Iraq from his very first National Security Council meeting, according to former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, and indeed, before that, when trusted Project for a New American Century advisors wrote out a brazen plan for world domination and placed it on the public record.

It doesn't take an Einstein to figure out when bombastic windbags like Bush and Blair are lying. Hell, as a serviceable test of gullibility you could have sorted the world into morons and skeptics on the basis of how the WMD lie was regarded, the skeptics comprising most of the world outside the US and Britain, the morons made up of those Americans and Britons whose comfortable material circumstances owe much to sucking up to anyone in authority. And you could never be sure that most of them believed the garbage either.

To be sure, you'd have to place the vaunted newspapers of record squarely in the moron category, all of them falling hook, line and sinker for the Bush-Blair whoppers, or seeming to. Strangely, established journals like the New York Times and Washington Post are invariably cited as unimpeachable authorities, even though as purveyors of nonsense they're unmatched except by the White House press office and corporate PR departments. I can remember my son, aged 10, flipping through a copy of the New York Times, a puzzled expression etched across his face. "What's so good about this paper?" he asked. Nothing really. It's just that everyone thinks it's really good. I guess faulty intelligence made us all wrong.

So how did the New York Times get that way -- by hiring dummies? On the contrary, it hires people who'd perform quite well on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. But it also hires people who'd perform quite well on the "I've internalized the values of the people in charge, and have learned that sycophancy is never a bad policy" test, and hence can be relied upon to provide cover whenever the US unleashes its goons at the Pentagon on some poor country whose resources, markets, or geostrategic position happen to be coveted by Wall Street or the crowd at the State Department.  Oh sure, if you're going to write for one of the giants you've got to be able to write well, and know not to show up for work with your fly open and spittle dribbling from your mouth, and you can't leer too brazenly at the voluptuous office temps, but other than that, so long as you don't call the President a liar, and give sacred cows a wide berth, you'll do all right. Otherwise, you'll get the boot. This is known as stupidity by means of natural selection.

Stupidity has other origins too, perhaps the most contemptible of which is patriotism, the act of gumming up your neural synapses with feel-good nonsense about the country whose passport you bear being the greatest in the world. This is almost invariably a disease of mean-minded little men and women, who secretly wonder at their worth, but cover up their self-loathing by attaching themselves to symbols of national glory, which by hook or crook they'll keep from being sullied by cynics, angry men and the truth. They fly the flag, march in parades, and never question. Kurt, a member of this brain-dead subspecies recently wrote me to explain why the US is charging around the world like a bumptious bull on steroids, goring whoever gets in the way while tossing resisters pell-mell into concentration camps.
 

"You have go admit, for some reason, americans are the most ambitious, and usually the most ambitious and intelligent, are the ones who dominate.

"Since the Egyptians, to the Greeks, to the Romans, to the Spanish, and to the British.  We are just the next in line.  Unfortunately, the Jewish State is a big part of all of this too. And, yes, I do realize what a big part the Jewish State has in running this country.

"Deep down,  I really think the American people want better lives for everyone else too.  What sucks is that the human race is flawed, which will always lead to persons and people always wanting to dominate other persons and people.

"And for whatever it's worth, democracy is still the best political system there has ever been (along with capitalism being the best economic system.).  We have religious freedom along with a heathenistic (sp?) Culture."


Hmm. From the Egyptians to the Greeks to the Romans to the Spanish and to the British. Kurt's timeline seems to be truncated. What happened to the Nazis? They too thought they were more intelligent and ambitious than anyone else and therefore had an obligation to rule over lesser beings. Come to think of it, the Nazis shared this thing with Kurt about the Jews running everything, too.

What strikes me about Kurt is that he seems neither ambitious nor intelligent, and I suspect he'd  have a hard time dominating a group of Girl Scouts on mood-levellers. And yet he regards himself as a charter member of the master race of Americans whose ambition and intelligence must make them dominate the world, just like the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Spanish, British -- and Nazis -- before them. Kurt may as well call himself a stud, too, because you know, he has a penis, and Joe Namath has one too, and heck, look at how many women Namath had. It would doubtlessly come as a shock to Kurt that the people who are really in charge of running the empire he's proud to be associated with, wouldn't let him clean the toilets of their private washrooms, and would be embarrassed to know he considers himself part of them.

Apparently, I make people like Kurt angry, which is incentive enough to keep me going, but the matter of my own anger seems to have puzzled the superpatriots. Do I write all those nasty things out of jealousy about living in pathetic and third-rate country (Canada)? Do I spend all my time, as other Canadians do, smoking hash, drinking beer, and watching hockey? I do drink beer. And I do watch hockey. But I don't particularly care whether Canada is first, second or third rate, this grading seeming to depend entirely on (a) how big a country's collective dick, that is, its military is, and (b) how many foreign lives its military has snuffed out. And nor do I think of myself as a Canadian. Since there are 30 million Canadians, all of them different, with their own views and mannerisms and way of talking, I'm not really sure what a Canadian is, except someone who has a Canadian passport, and lapses into crises of moral worth whenever any team wearing a maple leaf on its jersey loses an international hockey competition.

I'm reminded of my neighbors who identify with the Ottawa Senators, the local NHL franchise.  "We really whipped Philly last night, didn't we?," they'll crow. Since I was planted on the couch in front of my TV, and not on the ice wearing a Senator's jersey, I'm never sure where the "we" part comes in. No, "we" were sitting on our assess. "They" did all the whipping. Likewise, Kurt thinks he's dominating the world, fired up by the ambition and intelligence that Americans apparently imbibe in their supersize Pepsis, while sitting at home, firing off e-mails to me, as people make decisions in Washington without a tittle of a thought for Kurt or anyone like him. Kurt can cheer from the sidelines, or not. It makes no difference to them, so long as he keeps super-sizing it, and keeps his synapses gummed up with patriotic goop.

Am I angry? My doctor thinks so.

I've had a nasty, hacking cough recently, a virus I suspect, picked up from my son, which finally sent me trudging off to her office, though very reluctantly, to see what could be done. As soon as I opened my mouth and the first few hoarse words croaked out, she settled on a diagnosis and formulated a course of therapy. "Bronchitis," she said. "Here, take these antibiotics for eight days."

"But," I sputtered. "You haven't let me tell you what my symptoms are. You see, what's been happening is ...."

"Let me take your blood pressure."

"Huh? Well, okay, if you say so."

"Whoa, it's high. You can't be going around with blood pressure like that. You're going to need medication."

"But," I began, uselessly.

"Did you have a lot of salt last night."

"No. I never eat salt."

"Well, you need to avoid salt."

"But I never eat it."

"Good, then you should avoid it. And anger, too. Avoid that."

While it may be expected of an angry person, it's considered bad form for serious commentators, full of gravitas, to call the US fascist. That would be as serious an error as Dexter Filkens showing up for work with a pencil protruding from his right nostril, spouting off about socialism. Yet it should be clear that the expansionist tendencies of German and Japanese fascism rested on a belief in superiority and an implied obligation to dominate other countries, like the Romans and British, and so on.

It should also be clear that Kurt is hardly in the minority, and that there are many Americans who cling to an unshakeable belief that all things American are the best and must, as a humanitarian project, be imposed on everyone else. To be sure, behind this lurks the material interests of US corporations which profit immensely from the expansion of US hegemony, but the deceit keeps the patriots at home happy, while the boardroom boys rake in the profits. In this, there is much to be angry about.

...

You may re-post this article, providing the text remains unchanged.

E-mail list. Send an e-mail to sr.gowans@sympatico.ca and write "subscribe" in the subject line.

Stephen Gowans