Excluded from CNN, Censored from Consciousness
Journal of a Futurist - 31 January 2002
Making the world a better place for arms dealers, millionaires and screwed up weirdos
SYDNEY, Feb 2001: Hey ho, what a scene was the holiday break in every way, globally, nationally, personally. A season of Bushfires. Many flaring in a pitiable land, ignited by a President. Some in my own backyard, ignited by an arsonist. The latter is hunted, the former is idolised. Bush zeroes in on the axis of evil. To those of you who support the bombing does the world really seem a safer place?
Sorry for the delay since last posting. Thanks for your email alerts that the Philip Ruddock flyer WANTED for Crimes Against Humanity (see entry on December 29) might cost me an arm, a leg and the family silver. Youll end up penniless, barked a barrister. Such a threat would have once meant nothing. This time I worried about ending up in the doss house. Thats why satire belongs to the young, a moment when we have little to lose. (Teens: dont waste all your spare time at the movies). Assets, no matter how modest, sap the will to mock the powerful.
In light of unfolding events, the Ruddock poster now seems tame, even prophetic. Australians are waking up to the sad psychic state of our Immigration Minister, a once honourable fellow, say some, a decent, dedicated man according to the sensitive Chairman of the Immigrant Detention Advisory Group. Yet the Minister acts like a screwed up weirdo with a hole in his heart. This is the man who refers to an immigrant child floating in the ocean, as an it. Who stops the asylum-seeking father of three drowned children from re-uniting with his heartbroken wife on a foreign shore. "You wont be allowed back". Or why, when asked how he feels about the current spate of attempted suicides by people in his care, snaps, they are inappropriate. What does he mean? That its against department regulations, that it messes up the cell, that its not the sort of thing a decent Australian would do.
The cruelty of Philip Ruddock is unconscious. He argues that he is merely applying the letter of the law, and sending a message to the world. He is dealing with the big picture. If his toughness delights the hard hats of the Liberal Party, so much the better. But justice can happen in mysterious ways. Ruddocks cold heart has not only injured its victims, it has rebounded on himself. The Minister is now a dead man talking, horrible to behold. Notes a Herald letter writer: Ruddock is a sick man. Time for him to be taken away on a stretcher.
Incidentally, the leader of the Democrats, Natasha Stott Despoja, has made a big deal about being the first leader of a political party to visit the Woomera gulag. Natasha : what took you so long? And why didnt you speak out about the Tampa affair at election time?
Cruelty, lies & lack of video-tape
Cruelty is in the air. And double-talk. And secrecy. How about the Pentagon photos of the unlawful combatants arriving in Guantanamo Bay? If thats what s officially permissible, can you imagine whats happening behind the scenes? Donald Rumsfeld looks down the barrell of the camera and asks rhetorically, Are the prisoners being treated humanely? Yes! Thanks for that Donald. How could we have thought otherwise? Under their hoods, they must be smiling. Over 80 per cent of Americans agree with Rumsfelds assessment, so who am I to argue?
Wait a minute these are among the cruellest people on earth. Look at US cinema, foreign policy, death row, Waco. Even Colin Powell, the supposed nice guy, when asked about the horrendous number of civilians murdered in the Gulf War, replied: "That is really not a matter I am terribly interested in .The United States leads the world in arms sales. In 1998, the Pentagon delivered $10.5 billion in arms worldwide, $7.8 billion of that to developing countries. Oh, lets not get carried away. Thuggery follows no flag. The antics of Ruddock and Rumsfeld are as interchangeable as their names. The majority of Australians support them both.
Whats that distant rumbling?
In the US, the murmur of dissent is rising. A noted U.S futurist with a column in a Boston newspaper, Barton Kunstler, warned his readers of the need to face our own responsibility for the violent character of todays world and argued against achieiving closure by inflicting our own tragedy hundreds of times over by destroying entire cities
We seem not to have figured out how to use force without destroying the innocent.
Marc Herold, a professor of Economics from the University of New Hampshire, has put a figure on the number of civilians killed during the War on Terror. He lists location, type of weapon used , the sources of information, (the BBC, The Times of India, The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald, etc). Not included are the deaths of combatants, lawful or otherwise, or those likely to die from their wounds. When the evidence conflicted, according to Herold, he always settled for the lower death-count. This estimate covers the period from October 7 to Dec 10, since which time hundreds more have been slaughtered. Do you know the death toll? If not, why not?
Could it be something to do with the high level media links to the Whitehouse?
Cuddly Colin Powell has served on the board of America Online, pocketing a $4 million windfall when it merged with Time Warner. Multi millionaire Donald Rumsfeld is a boardroom veteran of the mighty Tribune Company, publishers of the LA Times & Chicago Tribune. Both these leaders of civilisation have served as directors of Gulfstream Aersospace, acquired by General Dynamics in 1999, a deal which netted Rumsfeld $11 million. And what is General Dynamics? A major defence contractor. Oil, arms, media, the Whitehouse, oh what a wonderful world.
But that couldnt be the reason for the blackout on civilian deaths. Youve all got independent minds, modems and a global soul, havent you?
The fatalities were given wide publicity in Europe, and next to none in the United States. Again, why is that? I put the question to a journo friend from The Washington Post. The reply was cool: I think you would find most people here focused on our own thousands killed intentionally. End of story. The cop-out of course, is intention. Its robs accidental deaths of significance. But when you send B52s to bomb settlements, it is almost certain that civilians will die. So much so, that in a just universe the World Court could indict the Pentagon bombadeers for showing a reckless disregard for human life, which is a legal definition murder.
Just because the number of civilian casualties isnt mentioned on CNN, doesnt mean it its not a crime. Indeed, its omission hints at a dim awareness of guilt. As well as dimness. CNN is now asking viewers to vote on what country should be next in line for a US attack. The American Taliban recruit John Walker Lindh is being charged with conspiring to kill Americans. We await the day when Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush and John Howard are charged with conspiring to kill Afghanis. Oh, that figure? More civilians have been killed than were murdered in the World Trade Centre. Nearly all of whom, movingly and appropriately, were commemorated in the media. The dead Afghanis? They don't count, so theyre not counted. Not by the Pentagon, which is too busy showing off its weapons. The dead are not named, not mourned, not remembered. How many Afghanis have died? At the very least, according to Marc Herold, it is 3,700. Later, he told ABC radio a much more realistic figure is 5,000. Thats prior to Dec 10 and, as far as I know, the bombs keep dropping.
Thats it folks. Heres a promise. Next week I wont mention the war.
Until then, heres a big issue to ponder. If you had a chance to administer a powerful tab of ecstasy to a single human being anywhere in the world, who would it be? This philosophical question is inspired by the strange cover story in issue 74 of the literary magazine, Granta, CONFESSIONS OF A MIDDLE AGED ECSTASY EATER.
Please email your choice.