the Brits feel the love yet? Exporting democracy,
it turns out, means more than just showing unfortunate
non-westerners the joys of having someone else
write a decent constitution for them. We have
now advanced to the point where we can tell even
the land of the Magna Carta just where they went
wrong. Apparently, they are so inept at running
their own country that George Bush and his coterie
of war criminals need to tell them just how to
tailor democracy to American tastes.
exported version, of course, is frighteningly
like the domestic one. Free speech, first of all,
is overrated, and is easily abused by misfits,
peaceniks, trade unionists and other pesky troublemakers.
Might we suggest a few important, um, improvements
to make the whole thing run a little more smoothly?
Really just a nip here and a tuck there. There
you go-a Rolling Exclusion Zone would be nice.
That way no one can ever get anywhere near a visiting
head of state, even if he dragged your country
into war and your people are plenty pissed off
also like you to basically shut down your capital,
make our shoot-to-kill snipers exempt from your
laws, and never have any negative image occupy
the same TV screen (all for security, naturally)
as our fearless leader. I guess I can drop the
sarcasm now. This has got to be the most repulsive
cabal ever to have seized control of the levers
of power in US history. While we wait in vain
for the fires of their hellish neocon psychosis
to burn themselves out, they just keep getting
worse and worse.
would think that in the wake of revelations that
the Bliar government begged desperately for Bush's
cast of horribles to wait a bit before sinking
its teeth into the oil-filled jugular of Iraq,
that maybe-just maybe-Lon Cheney, George and crew
might tread just a tad more lightly rather than
swagger into town, oozing their misplaced and
unfounded hubris all over London. You'd be wrong-again.
fact, we're always wrong. Any vaguely humane assumption
that might dampen our revulsion and cynicism is
quickly dashed. Every time we indulge a human
impulse to give these thugs the benefit of any
doubt in any arena, we are reminded that there
is no redeeming aspect whatever to this administration.
But who's the wiser? Even with irony as rich as
Bush and Bliar's mutual jitters about this visit,
the only Americans awake enough to notice are
the same crowd who noticed when a trillion dollars
went missing at the Pentagon. Like I said, troublemakers.
may be dead, but this safety obsession should
raise more than a few eyebrows. It should be more
than a bit alarming that the American pResident
cannot safely visit his only ally in his gargantuan
crime against humanity. I remember being within
a stone's throw of the Nicaraguan president, surrounded
merely by a few bodyguards in the midst of a civil
war, and it begs the question of whether people
like our good Boy George might be a bit safer
if they were not so widely despised. But oh, wait,
it's just because "they're jealous of our freedoms."
Begging another question: if no one notices it,
does irony still exist?
Jennings bookended a recent newscast with two
stories that should have made my head explode.
Yet, in our new irony-free matrix, I merely shrugged.
The lead story told of how the Americans in Iraq
were "fighting back," hitting "suspected" insurgent
hideouts, and so on. Leaving aside for the moment
the thousand year old irony of "counterinsurgency"
itself, the news ended with a nod to the Toledo
Blade's courageous expose of US atrocities in
Vietnam's Song Be valley three decades ago.
had plenty of time to contemplate how much safer
all this is making us as I waited in the ER lounge
for a friend who had been shot in the head with
a BB gun outside our school (true story). OK,
I lied-I couldn't really shrug, with the irony
liquefying my brain and leaking out my ears and
nostrils. In the name of national security, these
war criminals are making our world and our country
incalculably more dangerous. Their macho swagger
is not just an embarrassment, though it is that
as well. Every month these people stay in office
sets the cause of peace and security back a couple
in the greatest of ironies, Bliar dreads the visit
from his fellow occupier. Maybe Britain, having
occupied perhaps more countries than Genghis Khan,
should be jittery at the sight of its echo from
across the pond. Centuries of brutal imperial
terror melt away, and past becomes present. And
why not? While they are securing the death of
irony, the Bush junta might as well do away with
the concept of time itself. Their war of terror
in its current phase is desperate to find some
wrinkle in time, a wormhole to another dimension
where the time worn physics of occupation do not
string theorists of the Bush regime are wasting
their time, aided and abetted by virtually the
entire opposition party (notable exceptions Kucinich
and Sharpton). Gravity still rules, and all imperial
fantasy must needs return to earth. In this light,
Bush and Bliar should enjoy their visit, perhaps
with a song or two. George can quote from the
Latin American resistance his own government spent
the better part of the last century trying brutally
to suppress: pueden cortar las flores, pero no
pueden cortar la primavera. Tony can share songs
from his own country's eight hundred year occupation
of Ireland: "When the law can keep the blades
of grass from growing where they grow/and when
the leaves in summertime their verdure dare not
show/then I will change the color that I wear
in my corbeen/but 'til that day, plase God, I'll
stick to wearing of the green."
can reminisce about how their exports of "democracy"
and the "rule of law" have brought smiles to the
faces of those they have liberated. If they invited
me, I would have shared my favorite anecdote about
democracy. Watching late night election returns
with a friend a few years back, our minds had
all but been numbed into complacency when one
candidate conceded with the requisite fought-the-good-fight-but-hey-that's-democracy
shtick. My friend clicked of the remote with a
snort: "Yeah, right, that's democracy: two virtually
indistinguishable "candidates" spending a million
dollars to convince as many people as possible
that the other wet the bed when he was seven."
far as the rule of law, Tony can dip again into
his endless supply of Irish victims. I'm thinking
of The Rebel, by Padraig Pearse: "Did you think
to conquer the people? Or that law is stronger
than life, or than man's desire to be free? We
shall try it out with you-ye that have harried
and held, ye that have bullied and bribed-tyrants,
hypocrites, liars!" Sit back and enjoy it while
you can, boys-there are a lot of songs yet to
be written. Can't you just feel the love?
Note: The writer chose to deliberately mis-spell
Tony Blair's name "Bliar" the way many
Brits refer to him to indicate that he's a liar
too like Bush.
2003 Daniel Patrick Welch.
Reprint permission granted with credit and link
Welch lives and writes in Salem, Massachusetts,
USA, with his wife, Julia Nambalirwa-Lugudde.
Together they run The Greenhouse School . A writer,
singer, linguist and activist, he has appeared
on radio [interview available here] and can be
available for further interviews. Past articles,
translations are available at danielpwelch.com.
Posted: November 19, 2003