Saturday, July 26, 2003

Mailer, again

Damn, this guy just gets better. In the most recent New York Review of Books online, there is an excellent exchange between Robert Tiersky and Norman Mailer on Mailer's previous article for NYRB, "White Man Unburdened."

The original article: The White Man Unburdened

The exchange about the article: Bush & Terror: An Exchange with Norman Mailer

Here are the last three paragrpah's of Mailer's reply, which may be some of the finest political writing about what is at stake to appear in print. The emphasis is mine:

"Maybe we will do well to learn to live with terrorism as a chronic condition, an ongoing upheaval to all sorts of good hopes, plans, and projects. All the same, until it reaches the numbers of our annual automobile accidents (more than 40,000 mortalities), can we recognize that there may be worse things in store for our Republic than projected weapons of mass destruction (which are, after all, never easy to deliver), and one of them is the shameless exploitation of American perception? A blinded democracy is soon on its knees begging for a leader to show the road.

At present, the specter of fascism settling upon us remains just that, an exaggeration, a specter, but will we escape it if we are struck by economic miseries? That is the time when we will need to be at our best rather than gulled in thought and dulled in language by our reigning Doctors of Advertising Sciences. Tiersky concludes his letter by suggesting that the real bottom line on the Bush administration, whatever its admitted low maneuvers, may be that it is still trying to do the job of searching genuinely to provide us with security.

The answer may be that there are more important things to safeguard. What does it profit us if we gain extreme security and lose our democracy? Not everyone in Iraq, after all, was getting their hands and/or their ears cut off by Saddam Hussein. In the middle of that society were hordes of Iraqis who had all the security they needed even if there was no freedom other than the full-fledged liberty offered by dictators to be free to speak with hyperbolic hosannas for the leader. So, yes, there are more important things to safeguard than security and one of them is to protect the much-beleaguered integrity of our democracy. The final question in these matters suggests itself. Can leaders who lie as a way of life protect any way of life?"

Precisely. At what cost "security"? What are we doing to ourselves as a people?


No comments: