Friday, March 14, 2003


Fragments From a Diary by Wallace Shawn ... We're passengers. We're waiting. We're sitting very quietly in our seats in the car, waiting patiently for the driver to arrive. We're nervous, of course, looking out the window at the gray landscape. Soon the driver will open the front driver's side door, sit down in his seat, and take us on a trip. We're going to Iraq. We don't want to go. We know we'll be driving straight into the flames, straight ahead into the flames of hell. It's crazy. It's insane. We know that. But we're paralyzed, numb, can't seem to move. Don't seem to know how to reason with the driver. Don't seem to know how to stop the car from going. Don't seem to know even how to get out of it. ... Following the "news" each day before an enormous event occurs, as now before (maybe) war, reminds me of an old sensation: There was a children's game in which we were supposed to pin a paper tail on a paper donkey, and before you made your attempt you were blindfolded, and invisible hands spun you around and around till you were dizzy and disoriented and didn't know where you were. That's how I feel. President Bush is about to take a step toward seizing control of the entire planet. People and countries are terrified about the consequences for the human race if Bush does what he plans to do. And yet it seems as if we, the consumers of "news," when we try each day to learn about this desperately important moment we're living through, are given a huge, overpowering pile of stories, almost all of which deal not with the question of humanity's future, but instead with the question of Iraq's weapons. Bush himself is not actually frightened by the weapons held (or not held) by this destroyed country, Iraq, nor is he actually shocked by the probability that Iraq, like all other nations on earth (because of the nature of nations), wants to be as well armed as it possibly can be. But he's managed to convince the governments of the world that, just as he will never say why he wants to invade Iraq but will only talk about Iraq's weapons, they must never say why they oppose the invasion, except by talking about Iraq's weapons. Bush will say Iraq has a lot of weapons, the opponents of war will say Iraq has few. This discussion will go on until the troops are ready and the weather's right for war, and at that moment Bush will declare he's "lost patience" with the laborious pace of the discussion of weapons, and he'll go to war. The editors of the New York Times must know as well as anyone else that the discussion of weapons is the public relations branch of preparing for war, the propaganda arm of the process of preparation. The discussion of weapons, on Bush's part, pretends to be sincere, as all advertising does, but it is not sincere, and so it makes sense only as part of the story of preparation. But each morning I find in my newspaper two separate narratives, apparently describing unrelated developments: One (a thin little column) says that the preparations for war are going smoothly and the weather soon will be right for an attack, and the other (pages and pages) says that the discussions about Iraq's weapons are going poorly, and there's a danger that Bush may "lose patience." The thin column describes something that's actually happening. The pages and pages spin me around until I don't know where I am. ... Why are we being so ridiculously polite? It's as if there were some sort of gentlemen's agreement that prevents people from stating the obvious truth that Bush and his colleagues are exhilarated and thrilled by the thought of war, by the thought of the incredible power they will have over so many other people, by the thought of the immensity of what they will do, by the scale, the massiveness of the bombing they're planning, the violence, the killing, the blood, the deaths, the horror.
There are rare moments when I catch some TV commentator start to go down this line of thought. But they usually quickly stop themselves and dismiss the notion as ridiculous. Surely they couldn't be like that could they? I think they are afraid to speculate on this matter because it is to frightening a concept and, if they did, they would probably be raked over the coals by their colleagues for entertaining such ridiculous, kooky, notions. We can well envision the leaders of other countries being this way. But when it comes to our own country many of us are just not willing to admit that it can happen here. Inconceivable!


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home