Sunday, March 02, 2008

Prophets Without Honour in Their Own Land 

1.) One of our longtime favorite blogs, Mark Gisleson's Norwegianity, is about to go dark. We strongly recommend that you take a farewell stroll (a farewell scroll?) down the main page, where you will find any number of fascinating and informative links, including one to the video directly below, in which Dick Gregory offers his apology to the First Black President:

(Courtesy of our esteemed colleagues at The Unapologetic Mexican and Mercury Rising, where we also discovered links to Gregory's complete remarks from the 2008 State of the Black Union conference: Parts one, two, three, and four.)

2.) Another of our favorite bloggers, J. Schwarz of A Tiny Revolution, was threatening to take Sunday off because, as he put it, "the weather [was] so nice." Luckily, we were able to talk him back from the brink, and he is now hard at work churning out some sparkling new material which he has promised to post by nightfall at the latest. While we wait, we invite you to join us in watching a remarkable artifact unearthed by Mr. Schwarz's good friend Dennis Perrin, to wit, a video recording of Noam Chomsky's 1969 appearance on the late William F. Buckley's Firing Line:

Note the increasingly frantic arching of the eyebrows as it dawns on Mr. Buckley, perhaps for the first time, that he may not know as much as he thinks he does.

Part 2 of the same interview may be seen here.

THE BUCKLEY UPDATE: Our esteemed colleague (and future Nobel laureate) Josh Narins directs us, in comments, to an amusing anti-eulogy by Alexander Cockburn, who remembers to address the late Mr. Buckley's stylistic, as well as his political, deficiencies:
I found him mostly unwatchable and unreadable, being 97 per cent predictable and disgusting in all his views, with a style intolerably loaded with affectation -- fake English urbanity and pompous usage. He was the sort of writer who could never use the word "punishment" without sticking "condign" in front of it, the better to flaunt his stylistic credentials . . . .

Buckley wore urbanity like cheap make-up, badly applied. At the slightest challenge it disappeared and we were left with the hiss and venom of a true reptile.
There follows an extended passage from what is perhaps Mr. Buckley's most noisome eructation, a 1957 editorial from the National Review entitled "Why the South Must Win."

THE CHOMSKY UPDATE: From AlterNet, the transcipt of a (long) speech in which Noam Chomsky considers, among other matters, the marginalization of Iraq as an issue in Campaign 2008:
One of the most dedicated and informed journalists who has been immersed in the ongoing tragedy, Nir Rosen, has just written an epitaph entitled "The Death of Iraq" in the very mainstream and quite important journal Current History. He writes that "Iraq has been killed, never to rise again. The American occupation has been more disastrous than that of the Mongols, who sacked Baghdad in the thirteenth century," which has been the perception of many Iraqis, as well. "Only fools talk of 'solutions' now," he went on. "There is no solution. The only hope is that perhaps the damage can be contained."

But Iraq is, in fact, the marginal issue, and the reasons are the traditional ones, the traditional reasoning and attitudes of the liberal doves who all pray now, as they did forty years ago, that the hawks will be right and that the US will win a victory in this land of wreck and ruin. And they're either encouraged or silenced by the good news about Iraq.

And there is good news. The US occupying army in Iraq -- euphemistically it's called the Multi-National Force-Iraq, because they have, I think, three polls there somewhere -- that the occupying army carries out extensive studies of popular attitudes. It's an important part of counterinsurgency or any form of domination. You want to know what your subjects are thinking. And it released a report last December. It was a study of focus groups, and it was uncharacteristically upbeat. The report concluded -- I'll quote it -- that the survey of focus groups "provides very strong evidence" that national reconciliation is possible and anticipated, contrary to what's being claimed. The survey found that a sense of "optimistic possibility permeated all focus groups and far more commonalities than differences are found among these seemingly diverse groups of Iraqis" from all over the country and all walks of life. This discovery of "shared beliefs" among Iraqis throughout the country is "good news, according to a military analysis of the results," Karen de Young reported in the Washington Post a couple of weeks ago.

Well, the "shared beliefs" are identified in the report. I'll quote de Young: "Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the US military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of [what they call] 'occupying forces' as the key to national reconciliation." So those are the "shared beliefs." According to the Iraqis then, there's hope of national reconciliation if the invaders, who are responsible for the internal violence and the other atrocities, if they withdraw and leave Iraq to Iraqis . . . .

[A few days ago] George Bush issued another one of his signing statements declaring that he will reject crucial provisions of congressional legislation that he had just signed, including the provision that forbids spending taxpayer money -- I'm quoting -- "to establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of [United States} Armed Forces in Iraq" or "to exercise [United States] control of the oil resources of Iraq." OK? Shortly after, the New York Times reported that Washington "insists" -- if you own the world, you insist -- "insists that the Baghdad government give the United States broad authority to conduct combat operations," a demand that "faces a potential buzz saw of opposition from Iraq, with itsdeep sensitivities about being seen as a dependent state." It's supposed to be more third world irrationality.

So, in brief, the United States is now insisting that Iraq must agree to allow permanent US military installations, provide the United -- grant the United States the right to conduct combat operations freely, and to guarantee US control over the oil resources of Iraq. OK? It's all very explicit, on the table. It's kind of interesting that these reports do not elicit any reflection on the reasons why the United States invaded Iraq. You've heard those reasons offered, but they were dismissed with ridicule. Now they're openly conceded to be accurate, but not eliciting any retraction or even any reflection.
N.B.: Although it seems to have been lost in transcription, we believe Mr. Chomsky is undertaking a mild ethnic joke in the third paragraph above. If the bit about the Multi-National Force is to make any sense, "three polls" should obviously read "three Poles."

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