Have you been hearing a hollow clanging in the middle of the night? Faint, but growing louder in that gathering twilight before the fitful dreams of midnight’s slumber? Could it be the sound of the dark lord himself, Darth Cheney, frenzied with blood lust, beating his bionic breast like a reborn King-Kong as the indelicate stench of unrequited war teases his flared nostrils?
It’s back to golden Babylon, boys! Black gold, that is. Bubbling crude and Blackwater mercenaries. Halliburton. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, where our grand inquisitors and their neocon apologists once peddled tortured euphemisms for the enhanced terrible things we did to those ungrateful Muslim wretches.
We are furiously revving up for yet another dubious little war. To ape the memorable mediocrity of Saint Ronald of Hollywood, here we go again. A chorus of screeching castrati is giddy at the prospect of a new, unholy crusade to the so-called holy land. Even our reluctant President is seduced by the siren-call of the same “I told you so” liars of the last administration, warmongering ghouls urging him to reclaim lost machismo with his very own misadventure in the minefields of the Middle East…
Have we learned nothing since that blue-sky day in September thirteen long years ago? Are we still so easily terrorized by some really bad guys on the other side of the world, who butcher humans and share their butchery online? Are we so much like frightened sheep that we will eagerly shed a decade of war weariness and once again send our legions off to kill and die in some faraway, forsaken place?
Perhaps we need some perspective on the (un)Islamic State’s admittedly gruesome tactic. Remember the Tower of London? The last beheading there was in 1747. The Swedes finally quit beheading in 1890. The Germans were chopping off heads as late as 1935. The French used Dr. Guillotin’s invention right up to 1977. And of course, our dear friends in Saudi Arabia still do it for all sorts of crimes including apostasy and sorcery.
Even we civilized Americans, once upon a time before we managed to pry church and state apart (ever so slightly), had a penchant for calling people witches and burning them alive. But that was us then and this is them now. If nothing else, we Americans are very tolerant of our own double standards. It’s all part of being exceptional. God will be on our side, unless she’s not and Matthew 5:9 is just a bunch of hokum…
Have you heard that distant clanging in the middle of the night, from deep within our restless national nightmare of unanticipated consequences? We have sown the wind. What will we now reap in the harvest to come? In 1940, Ernest Hemingway famously borrowed a line from a 1624 poem by John Donne. “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Ding. Ding. Ding.
Monsieur Jacques d’Nalgar
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Painting “Torture Abu Ghraib,” 46” x 32” oil on canvas, 2009, by Max Ginsburg. http://snippits-and-slappits.blogspot.com/2012/06/todays-image-june-9-2012.html