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What's in the banner?
Thursday, February 27, 2003
Washed up has-been writer Norman Mailer spouts off today in the Houston Chronicle. His thesis is that we're going to war because, um, well, empire, fascism, oil, water, China, and sports. It's hard to excerpt from this fine specimen of Big Shot Bullshit.
Wow, that's scary, Norm! Tell us more!
Why, you're right, Norm! In all of American history we've never had scandals like these!
Wow! When did this happen? On the other hand, they may enjoy your books more.
You're right! The place has become a bordello since January 2001.
No blood for water!
So, if we have an Empire, there won't be any more scandals and kids will learn how to read and everyone will behave, right? Tell us how that works.
Um, Norm? Norm? Hello....
Well, I'm sure he'll tell us eventually. First we get this prediction:
Gosh! Maybe we ought to dismantle our democracy right away, lest the terrorists try to destroy it. Wait, that already happened. (I thought that wasn't about democracy, though...)
Whoops, changed my mind. Norman Mailer is the most brilliant man---OK, non-scientist---in the universe. He's absolutely right that them yella devils are taking over our precious White Man's Science. We need a purge of furriners, which would by a completely unrelated coincidence mean that my mangy carcass would suddenly become waaaaay more valuable.
Norm, bubba, if the "stem studies" in the US were so bad, Americans would be going to China to study them, not the other way around. And, you know, a lot of those Chinese (and others) elect to stay here and become Americans. Which means we win.
(I thought he made up this "stem studies" business, but it turns out that it means Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.)
And somehow I don't think kicking up sand in Iraq and taking over its oil, water, or vinegar is going to stop this supposed decline in our stem cells. (Are there technology deposits under the Iraqi sand? Are we expecting to find the Lost Knowledge of Ancient Babylon?)
No sirree, the only thing that's going to do that is to lavish great green gobs of cash on universities and scientific organizations in nice climates, so as to make sure that deserving yet unemployed scientists are guaranteed cushy and interesting jobs.
And some of the dumbest old hacks. I can see where it's possible that in 20 years China will have some technologies that are superior to ours. What I don't see is where he gets this "extraordinary, well-cultivated slave" crap. Wouldn't we sort of have to---you know---conquer them to do that? Wouldn't that get messy? And what would be the point? And how could we continue to be all rich and powerful and dictate stuff to people if they've got better technology? And why would they stand still for it?
I was going to mention that Harold Macmillan suggested that this be Britain's relationship to the US, but that was the other way around. He wanted Britain to be Greece, the enlightened home of thought, in contrast to the lumbering military empire. Guess he hadn't heard about the slave part. Tee hee. Boy, what I'd have given to see the look on his face when he found out.
Er, where were we? Oh, right, Mailer's fantasy kingdom:
And because equating the US with the Roman Empire always impresses the hell outta the rubes. (Stupid facts! What do they know, anyway.)
'Cause I sure as hell can't think of anything else. What was I writing about again? Norm's forgotten about that little business in New York and Washington. One could certainly argue that it had nothing to do with Iraq, but it's obvious that the administration thinks it just might. But, no, Mailer's going to pretend it didn't happen. Maybe so he can pretend he didn't spout some meaningless yet offensive drivel about it.
Well, I'm only half your age, Norm, but my long experience with horseshit tells me you're shovelling it. I think you've confused reality with one of your novels, bubbe. Flags at baseball games means fascism is just around the corner?
Norm, this country has been tempted by fascism before, in your lifetime and mine. And it didn't succumb. That doesn't mean we can be complacent, but I do think we should save our panic and outrage for a stronger sign than singing the national anthem at baseball games.
Say, Norm, you forgot to explain how, exactly, Bush thought that building an empire was going to keep corporations honest, stop priests from diddling little boys, bring back chastity, make the Chinese dumber, and get more kids to read your books.
Maybe he'll churn out a great thick square book on the subject.