Thursday, December 08, 2005

Language and Power

Harold Pinter, stricken with cancer, unable to travel to Stockholm to accept his Nobel Prize for literature, instead sent a video with his acceptance speech on it.

If I meet you, I will ask you, "Have you read Pinter's speech?" A negative answer will earn you stony silence until you can produce evidence that you have corrected this deficit.

Some giants still walk among us.

I know that President Bush has many extremely competent speech writers but I would like to volunteer for the job myself. I propose the following short address which he can make on television to the nation. I see him grave, hair carefully combed, serious, winning, sincere, often beguiling, sometimes employing a wry smile, curiously attractive, a man's man.

"God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden's God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam's God was bad, except he didn't have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don't chop people's heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don't you forget it."


Anonymous said...

I read it. Pinter's speech was sobering, stunning, powerful. True.
I wish it could be read, in its entirety, on every network, on every cable channel, over every radio station in the country.

Anonymous said...

"If such a determination (to define the real truth of our lives and our societies) is not embodied in our political vision we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us - the dignity of man."

Fear is the most powerful motivator, and I agree, and am worried, when he says he sees a more fearful American people. Fearful people do things their rational selves would disavow in what we once thought of as normal times.

And a fearful people will not hear this speech, more's the pity.

rnytog - a line of loungewear that Jean Pirro will be flogging, after she finishes flogging her husband.

Neil Shakespeare said...

Fabo, wasn't it? The 'speech of the century' comes to mind.

Neil Shakespeare said...

Just linked to you over at my place. Somebody's listening. Had read the speech and tried to access the video but got "due to heavy traffic you may not be able to access the video, we recommend you try again later". Also, can you send me the link to your post about almost being arrested for pissing on Pinochet's rosebushes?

The Viscount LaCarte said...

No stony silence for the Viscount.

Ironic that it is only about one degree away from all of his speeches.

Anonymous said...

Hi. Neal sent me over. That is the greatest exposure of our government's words EVER. Pinter stripped out all the spinning words and left the underlying product - an evil mass of slime.

An Upstep or a Downstep said...

Yaksha: What is the greatest wonder in the world?

Yudhishthira: Every day men see others called to their death, yet those who remain live as if they were immortal.

The Mahabharata

XTCfan said...

The United States no longer bothers about low intensity conflict. It no longer sees any point in being reticent or even devious. It puts its cards on the table without fear or favour. It quite simply doesn't give a damn about the United Nations, international law or critical dissent, which it regards as impotent and irrelevant.

With the Soviet Union gone, there's no need to hide under the cover of "low intensity conflict," is there?

I remember losing my "my country, right or wrong" patrotism cherry when I learned about what really happened to Allende. From that point on, I've tried to strip away the artifice from our actions, and see the strategic underpinnings for what they truly are.

As Pinter says, we talk a good game, but ultimately we are concerned only with protecting our economic and strategic interests. And so, the "United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War" ... well, of course we did. Dictators are much more predictable and manageable than democratically elected leaders.

We are hypocrites. This is why the "evildoers" hate us.

I am ashamed. And I will tap into this shame, using it as a motivator to be politically involved. I will not relax on the "voluptuous cushion of reassurance." This I promise.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ned.