RIP Harold Pinter. Did He Hate Who We Are, Or What We Did?
Britain’s Harold Pinter was considered the most influential playwright of his generation, and was an outspoken opponent of both his country’s policies and those of the US. When he won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2005 he used the platform to denounce George W. Bush and Tony Blair.
“The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law,” Pinter said in his Nobel lecture, which he recorded rather than traveling to Stockholm.
“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?” he asked, in a hoarse voice.
Pinter called Blair “a deluded idiot” and accused the United States of supporting “every right-wing military dictatorship in the world” after WWII.
“The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them,” he said.
The United States, he added, “also has its own bleating little lamb tagging behind it on a lead, the pathetic and supine Great Britain.”
In 1996, he wrote a piece for the Guardian displaying his contempt for US policies, “The Bigget Bully in the West.” Referring to the US being on the losing side of the UN vote condemning the American embargo of Cuba, to the Helms/Burton bill being deemed illegal by the European Union, and to a vote by 14 out of 15 securitiy council members against the US veto of Boutros Boutro-Ghali, Pinter called America “brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless.”
How can any country, in the light of such blanket condemnation of its policies and actions, not pause to take a little thought, not subject itself to even the mildest and most tentative critical scrutiny? The answer is quite simple. If you believe you still call all the shots you just don’t give a shit. You say, without beating about the bush: Yes, sure, I am biased and arrogant and in many respects ignorant, but so what? I possess the economic and military might to back me up to the hilt and I don’t care who knows it. And when I say that I also occupy the moral high ground you’d better believe it.
Pinter bemoaned that the status quo remains because our leaders reassure us that they have the best interests at heart for “the American people.”
Except of course for the 1.5 million people in prison, the 50 million living under the poverty line, the adolescents and mentally deficient about to be gassed or injected or electrocuted in the 38 out of 52 states which carry the death penalty. They don’t feel quite the same about this cushion of reassurance, but nobody listens to them anyway. As they are mostly poor and black they are essentially subversive.
Sometimes you look back into recent history and you ask: did all that really happen? Were half a million “communists” massacred in Indonesia in 1965 (the rivers clogged with corpses)? Were 200,000 people killed in East Timor in 1975 by the Indonesian invaders? Have 300,000 people died in Central America since 1960? Has the persecution of the Kurdish people in Turkey reached levels which approach genocide? Are countless lraqi children dying every month for lack of food and medicine brought about by UN sanctions? Did the military coups in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Chile result in levels of repression and depth of suffering comparable to Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and the Khmer Rouge? And has the US to one degree or another inspired, engendered, subsidised and sustained all these states of affairs? The answer is yes. It has and it does. But you wouldn’t know it.
Pinter’s plays were much about subtext, his characters’ words belying what was seething beneath the surface. And weren’t his political points the same? The words we hear from our leaders belie true agendas, and only when you penetrate the ostensbile do you find out what those real agendas are, if ever.Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2008 Liberaland