Published on Friday, December 26, 2008 by CommonDreams.org
Remembering Pinter: Is Our Conscience Dead?
On the news today of the death of Harold Pinter, the winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature, I remembered hearing his Nobel Laureate lecture/acceptable speech. I was in
I was amazed and thrilled that he chose to use the Noble Prize platform and devote a huge portion of his speech to shining an international spotlight onto the tragic effects of the past decades of U.S. foreign policy and particularly, on George Bush and Tony Blair's decisions to invade and occupy Iraq, on Guantanamo and on torture.
Pinter's Laureate speech question "Is Our Conscience Dead" is most relevant today when
three years after his acceptance speech "Art, Truth and Politics," Bush, Cheney, Rice and other administration officials are either trying to rewrite history or as in Cheney's case, purposefully revealing his role in specific criminal acts of torture and daring the American legal system and people to hold him accountable.
Following is the part of Pinter's lecture that speaks to invasion of
"Art, Truth and Politics "
Nobel Lecture by Harold Pinter
December 7, 2005:
It also has its own bleating little lamb tagging behind it on a lead, the pathetic and supine
What has happened to our moral sensibility? Did we ever have any? What do these words mean? Do they refer to a term very rarely employed these days - conscience? A conscience to do not only with our own acts but to do with our shared responsibility in the acts of others? Is all this dead?
What has the British Foreign Secretary said about this? Nothing. What has the British Prime Minister said about this? Nothing. Why not? Because the
The invasion of
We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'.
How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand?
More than enough, I would have thought. Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice. But Bush has been clever. He has not ratified the International Criminal Court of Justice. Therefore if any American soldier or for that matter politician finds himself in the dock Bush has warned that he will send in the marines. But Tony Blair has ratified the Court and is therefore available for prosecution. We can let the Court have his address if they're interested. It is Number 10,
Death in this context is irrelevant. Both Bush and Blair place death well away on the back burner. At least 100,000 Iraqis were killed by American bombs and missiles before the
Early in the invasion there was a photograph published on the front page of British newspapers of Tony Blair kissing the cheek of a little Iraqi boy. 'A grateful child,' said the caption. A few days later there was a story and photograph, on an inside page, of another four-year-old boy with no arms. His family had been blown up by a missile. He was the only survivor. 'When do I get my arms back?' he asked. The story was dropped. Well, Tony Blair wasn't holding him in his arms, nor the body of any other mutilated child, nor the body of any bloody corpse. Blood is dirty. It dirties your shirt and tie when you're making a sincere speech on television.
The 2,000 American dead are an embarrassment. They are transported to their graves in the dark. Funerals are unobtrusive, out of harm's way. The mutilated rot in their beds, some for the rest of their lives. So the dead and the mutilated both rot, in different kinds of graves.
I have said earlier that the
Many thousands, if not millions, of people in the
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.'
I hope you will decide that yes, we do have a conscience and that you will join the millions of Americans who say we must hold accountable those who have committed criminal acts while in government-the policy makers as well as the implementers.
Write and call the new President and the new Congress and demand official investigations into war crimes and other criminal acts committed by members of the Bush administration and join us on Inauguration day to remind the new President of his responsibilities.
Ann Wright is a 29 year
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs