Friday, January 2, 2015

And Seldom Is Heard
A Discouraging Word        

The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but has a remarkable capacity for never even hearing about them--George Orwell

    Whenever Washington and its media stenographers start prating about America’s championing of freedom and democracy, billions of people around the world are faced with a minor vexation. They don’t know whether to chortle or retch.
    I was thus vexed the other morning by an NPR update on our kissy-face buddy Saudi Arabia,  a country named for the family that owns and runs it. (If our concentration of wealth continues apace, we may soon join the Saudis in that distinction.)   The report
said that except for “uncertainty” about their future (a condition that effects us all), the Saudis were feeling mostly hunky dory in their medieval monarchy.
    A couple of days earlier I happened to come upon two lightly covered news items about our intimate ally. The first said that the Saudis boosted their beheading totals for the year. (Someone once told me that in addition to cutting off your hand for thievery, the Saudis will snip your pinkie for overtime parking. I’ve never managed to confirm that.)
    The other story said that two Saudi women were to be tried by an anti-terrorism court not only for daring to drive automobiles
themselves, but for encouraging other women to do so as well.   (Isn't terrorism such a ubiquitous and useful rubric?) 
    Neither NPR anchor Steve Inskeep nor his guest, author Thomas Lippman, mentioned those nor any other such bits of information that might hint that Saudi was a bizarre feudal throwback bested only by North Korea for the title of most repressive state on Earth.
   Speaking of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, its doofus dictator with the ten cent tonsorial, could become as beloved by Washington and the media as is the king of Saudi if he made the effort.  Perhaps he will now that the Sony hack has made him a national brand over here.
    He wouldn’t have to stop starving, torturing and killing his people or running a society in which anything not allowed is forbidden. All he would have to do was to turn his country’s economy over to Wall Street. U.S. multinationals would delight in super profiting from a regime that paid its people less and treated them more horribly than hellholes like Bangladesh.
   Kim would soon find himself a mascot of the NBA, hosting SNL and a regular on Meet The Press. Dick Cheney and Hillary Clinton would befriend him. And, as we do with our other absolutist friends, no one would ever use disconcerting words like freedom and democracy in his presence.  As our endless deference to the antediluvian Saudi princes shows, we Americans are polite that way. When it pays.