I’m trying to live in a news-tight container. I never read the papers. I’ve cancelled my magazine subscriptions. I try not to stay too long at social events, lest I hear some otherwise rational human being spout some atrocious media lie, ignorant hyperbole or vulgar reduction as fact. I’ve even deleted Beethoven off my hard drive – I can’t stand “Ode to Joy” being played against the backdrop of a flag the size of Lebanon.
I rarely even watch the television anymore. It always calls for revenge, war, and blood against a backdrop of genocide, suicide and ethnic cleansing. Of Imperialism and wars for “freedom,” and “liberty,” all while these “heroic” nations steal every magnificent possibility from entire peoples. All for natural resources important to national war machines. Like any proper machine, they only understand brute force, and programming. The television set drips venom and poison, all mixed into the black blood of innocents taken without permission or compassion.
The news readers sound like rabid dogs frothing at the mouth, howling and snarling at the moon. Their thirst for blood is not instructional, their task is to only pander more grief – a grief that is heavier than the sorrow of loss, than the empty rewards of poorly rationalized evil. As an avid reader of books and people, I recognized the emotion of these newscasters as “rage.”
“Sing me, o Muse, the rage of Achilles that cost so many lives to the Achaeans,” so starts “The Iliad,” and I wonder if rage has become the quintessential American emotion, the only one that muscle-bound America is allowed to embrace. All other emotions are unthinkable alternatives for “Democrats,” or in other words, for “sissies,” and “fairies.” Greece went to war with Troy to avenge the cuckolding of King Menelause. We must remember that here, Helen is of the kingdom of Oil, and the rage is in fact a barely disguised greed.
The only acceptable opinion left to “free” citizens is the one that approves of blind vengeance against those who kill the innocent to avenge the death of their own innocents. In blind rage, even Americans kill the innocent to revenge their losses. A vicious cycle. However, they seem to forget that apart from the tag of the victorious, there is nothing else that separates forces that are each as violent as the other. There are no heroes, and there are no villains, not in this story. When it comes to killing, they are both the one and the same. Evil begets evil, no matter the salad dressing the news tries to put on it, or which country the news agency belongs to. Any empire founded on violence and rage as its basis will inevitably be consumed by the very excesses that found it power.
Rage is a blurring, blinding emotion. It blots out reason, compassion, and any shred of Humanity left to those who seek to be Humanity’s brightest lights.
The rage of Achilles – for example – concluded in a bestial orgy of cruelty that ultimately offended the Gods – the same Gods that let millions die while they played human pieces into their silly games. In his rage, Achilles forgets what he was fighting for, who he was, what he lost and everything he failed to understand – he made a martyr out of Hector by defiling his body. For more than a week, he could not sleep or even cry. All he craved was retribution – and his own destruction – for the unthinkable things he did to someone he had so respected and loved.
Homer ends “The Iliad” with a funeral, not the victory of the Greeks. It is possibly the most mournful and understated ending in all the literature of the ages, “They buried Hector, tamer of forces.” With that grace note, we see all that lies before the people who survived the conflict they themselves began in rage: the enslavement, the ashen consequences of destruction without creation, the shameless, universally reviled rape of “enemy” Troy and the return of the Greek heroes to a land abandoned for ten years to the conspiracies of usurpers, to fallow fields, and to bankrupt treasuries. They go home to the hatred of once loving wives who now plot to murder them. Their sons have become social parasites – drinking, whoring, and brawling in their decadent palaces. Their dogs expire at their feet after one last, faithful look. They find nothing of what they left behind. The hero Odysseus spends years returning home in punishment for his pride and wrath.
The land for which the Greeks fought was no more. For nought did the sons and fathers of Greece die. Their victory was pyrrhic, their civilizations crumbling with their palaces. They disappeared from history, and their deeds were relegated to myth and their culture to arcane scholarship. It is ironic how Troy is remembered as the Noble state and the Greeks as the rabid dogs who threw away reason and civilization for conquest.
Such is the cost of vengeance and war, as all of Greek literature tells us.
Next to such a profound vision of the tragedy of war, can America justify its irascible thirst for blood? Can it truly? It is a landfill of hedonist entertainment much like Greece of old — a neo-Roman Coliseum which plays out the fantasies of sex and violence to appease a nation incapable of grieving, of walking in the shoes of sufferers, and above all of the healing to be found in redemption and forgiveness.
Maaf batin dan zohar – Forgive me from the inside and outside – even in the midst of a proselytized violence, Islam understands the value of forgiveness.
Plato once said he would ban poets from the ideal republic. Today, people reading him are shocked that he was so philistine as to ban those that culture dictates we respect (but ignore). We must consider that in the age of Plato, the poets were the right arm of tyranny. They authorized it, sang praises to it and were well paid for it.
This is why I don’t watch films made by Hollywood, the primary American voice for ideological pathologies like power, dominance, and cruelty. It does not surprise me that most Americans know so little of politics, history, and even morality. How ironic are their immoralities in a country run on the tenets of the Christian faith? Let’s not dissect the inexistent separation of Church and State, it must be painful for Americans to ignore the very constitution that afforded them the freedom they are so eager to disseminate to the world.
Gandhi once said, “I love your Christ, so compassionate and forgiving, but I do not love your Christians, so unlike your Christ.” The American state believes in God, sure. Have you seen movies like “Flags of our Fathers,” or even worse, that other commercialized story of war and tragedy and death, “Pearl Harbor?” You know the message. God bless America, and no one else. May a million infidels die so a single American can live! We are still drowning in the ocean of blood spilled by the perennial medieval crusades. The West advocates blood-thirsty war-mongering and blatant media untruths – but they censor the name of God from television.
This is why Americans are famous. This is why they are worshipped. These are the “liberal” ideas for which they are rewarded. Graded by the judgmental and overly subjective moral standards they maintain for the rest of the truly civilized world – they themselves fail. Americans still believe they are the guardians of all that is right, happy and free – the moral center of the world. They expose racism. How daring of them, fifty years after Hollywood ignored the civil rights struggle! They portray feminists climbing the corporate ladder and joining the military. Hurrah for feminism, so deftly co-opted to serve abusive institutions!
That’s Hollywood for you. They are allowed to make “controversial” movies focusing on subjects that the American Christian “Taliban” frowns upon. They address a plethora of provincial subjects interesting only to sexist, racist, Puritan America – a staggering portion of which country still believes in the reality of the Devil! Speak of bronze-age mentality! These hate-mongers are rewarded with fame, as though they have discovered a cure for cancer or AIDS. Their partisan politics are a fickle joke – they have no integrity, switching policies like a jukebox changes its tune, but only for greater prices.
O, brave new world that has such creatures in it that can’t say no to the box office! A few years from now, Hollywood will portray American lawyers saving Muslims from Guantanamoesque gulags.
Does this remind you of the nightmare George Orwell illustrated in his masterpiece, 1984? It does to me. It reminds me of the concept of Doublethink. Today, we are war with Eurasia. Tomorrow, they will say, “We are at war with Oceania; Eurasia has ever been our steadfast ally!” America armed Israel. America armed the Taliban. America armed Colombia and Cuba! Today, they wage war against them – as the enemies of civilization!
Ostensibly, they save the lives and the freedom of peoples from distant lands – but freedom in the cradle of America itself is threatened by the very government that defends it. They are the moral guide to the entire world, but they are hedonists mired in hypocrisy.
How have social reformers in the US decided to become overtly political? How have they chosen to embrace the very issues that will secure their rung on the ladder of power they help sustain through their grotesque fame, and through their abject subservience to the powers-that-be? They claim morality, but anyone who has eyes to see, and to read, knows that morality is not just dependent on how you treat those you love, but on how you treat those you hate. Answering hate with compassion ends hate. Answering hate with hate only breeds more hate.
This true definition of morality is lost on the deaf oceans and crowds of America. It has begun to sink in, though. You go to Africa, and the Africans beg you, “TAKE ME TO AMERICA!” Americans say, “I need to get out of this Godforsaken country and go somewhere nicer.” Travel reports confirm that more people are leaving the continental US permanently than moving to it permanently. People are catching on. They know where this is headed. By all means, ban America from the ideal republic. They are the real tyrants. They are the conformists, the opportunists, the hypocritical saviors of a “humanity” that they may never understand.