Week in Review:
November 18 — 24 , 2002
Angry Islam Boots Out Miss World.
To Final Battle.
Endeavour Soars to Lofty Orbit.
Monday, November 18
War, terrorism, and the conjoined themes of fear and worry continue to dominate mainstream reports. Caught-up in the mainstream and unaccountable, we dwell there by necessity in these last days on Planet X.
Thirty United Nations weapons inspectors arrived by jet in Baghdad to scour Iraq for biological, nuclear, and chemical weapons of mass destruction. To the pacific souls of the planet, the inspectors represent the last great hope for peace. For others, world-weary realists and hawks on the prowl, the arrival of the weapons detectives signaled the final prequel to USA's inexorable march to a final battle against the evil Saddam. Will Saddam submit, or shall he defy and die? A deadline of some sort was set for December 8, by which date the Iraqi regime must account for its arsenal, but the purpose of the timestamp was ambiguous at best. Uncertainty reigned.
Tuesday, November 19
Michael Jackson, pop ghoul personified, tightened his grip on the primal eight ball. Quick and stunning, his miserable deed in a Berlin hotel beside the Brandenburg Gate made for superb television. Excited by a blob of fans on the street below, the Freak of Pop grabbed his baby boy, Prince Michael the Second, in his right arm, rushed onto the hotel room balcony, and dangled the unfortunate toddler over the railing. He did! The melodrama intensified as father Michael adjusted a white towel covering the babe's head with his left hand while struggling to maintain his grip on the child, whose fat little legs swayed in the open space beyond the railing. Just like that he jerked Prince Michael the Second back to safety and retreated into the room. "I made a terrible mistake," Jackson stated in a press release. "I got caught up in the excitement of the moment. I would never intentionally endanger the lives of my children."
In Washington, D.C., fourteen months after Nine Eleven, USA's mission to foil terrorism on home soil was given formal organizational structure when the Senate voted, 90 yea and 9 nay, to approve formation of the Homeland Security Department. "The most massive restructuring of the government in half a century," a CNN doll reported. Today's White House Office of Homeland Security will morph into tomorrow's cabinet-level ogre of 170,000 minions and a budget of thirty to fifty billion dollars.
Wednesday, November 20
USA President Bush arrived in Prague for a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) meeting. He chose an appearance at the Prague Atlantic Student Summit to further state his case against Saddam by connecting history with the now and comparing today's climate of terrorism with the rise of fascist power in nineteen-thirties Europe.
We were alerted to the speech by a headline in Australia's Sidney Morning Herald: Saddam the new Hitler, Bush tells Europeans. Upon investigation, we noticed that the Herald's headline was based on a typical mainstream stretch of fact to fit the prevailing local agenda. Truth be known, Mr. Bush didn't mention Hitler; the connection between last century's most infamous leader and Saddam was vapid newsroom factiousness.
Mr. Bush said: "Members recently added to NATO and those invited to join bring greater clarity to purposes of our alliance, because they understand the lessons of the last century. Those with fresh memories of tyranny know the value of freedom. Those who have lived through a struggle of good against evil are never neutral between them. Czechs and Slovaks learned through the harsh experience of 1938, that when great democracies fail to confront danger, greater dangers follow."
Several minutes later Mr. Bush mentioned Saddam:
"Today the world is uniting to answer the unique and urgent threat posed by Iraq. A dictator who has used weapons of mass destruction on his own people must not be allowed to produce or possess those weapons. We will not permit Saddam Hussein to blackmail and/or terrorize nations which love freedom. Last week Saddam Hussein accepted U.N. inspectors. We've heard those pledges before and seen them violated time and time again. We now call an end to that game of deception and deceit and denial. Saddam Hussein has been given a very short time to declare completely and truthfully his arsenal of terror. Should he again deny that this arsenal exists, he will have entered his final stage with a lie. And deception this time will not be tolerated. Delay and defiance will invite the severest of consequences."
Thursday, November 21
"Sweeping changes in homeland security, but is it enough to keep you safe?" a Fox News Live promo alerted the viewing public. Could we accuse the mainstream media of promoting fear? Do you fear for your safety? If so, who frightens you?
Muslim anger is a constant on the USA watch list. Finding it somewhere on the planet is easy enough. On Thursday it surged in Nigeria, purportedly because a local journalist disrespected the Prophet Mohammed by aligning the divine spirit with the Miss World Pageant, whose contestants had gathered in the African nation to compete for primacy in the all-too-human realm of wishes and charms. By the day's end about fifty Nigerians lay dead from the Muslim anger and subsequent retaliation by the stricken and their police protectors. Four or five churches fell in smoldering rubble. The beauty queens sequestered behind heavy guard in a hotel in Abuja.
The journalist, a sports writer by trade, wrote in a Nigerian newspaper: "The Muslims thought it was immoral to bring 92 women to Nigeria and ask them to revel in vanity. What would Mohammed think? In all honesty, he would probably have chosen a wife from among them." On the pretext of grievous offense to the Prophet, the Muslim clerics of Nigeria raised a mob, set fire to the offending journalist's newspaper office, then engaged Christians in hand-to-hand combat.
Criticism of the Prophet Mohammed, either intended or accidental, ranks just above self-expression by women as justification for mayhem, destruction, and mob murder by adherents of Allah. Could be.... but we suspect the cause is not so simple. Religion is a veil to conceal power-seeking by clerics and the merchant-landed classes who support them. The Miss World Pageant is a perfect foil for their demagoguery.
In the fog of our proletariat existence on Planet X, hidden behind ramparts of illusion in the deserts and backwaters of USA, we spy the outline of a connection. Nigeria and Iraq, oilfields and shopping malls, petroleum and lines of supply, material backwardness and capitalist exploitation — we detect hierarchies within the planet's economy, note their eruption into tragic temporal melodrama. USA's hunger for the natural resources of the planet is insatiable. To devour them like raw meat is to maintain that familiar beast, "the American way of life," which feeds most heartily upon fossil fuel energy, gathered at the source in remote and faraway places.
Lean and nubile, the fashionable young women who contest for the crown of Miss World are traditional objects of sexual desire, cultural prototypes of feminine beauty, extreme flash points of an archetypal quest for temporal power. To certain men of wealth and influence, the beauty queens are an ultimate physical reward; to opportunists within the priesthood, the too lucious young women are readily molded into symbols of sin and Satan. The clerics see the desire they inspire, realize that the power of Allah cannot keep Muslim women of Nigeria behind the veil before the onslaught of such a formidable secular foe as popular materialism and its deep well of worldly passion. The government men in league with Islam are also in league with big oil, but unable to keep the wealth of the nation in local coffers for service to the community.
Human nature begets anger, but materialism incites it, inflames desire for the unattainable. Men want the beauty queens for their public dining tables and private beds; women want the luxury and privilege their beauty attracts. The clerics want pious sheep gathered in flocks — the natural order.
Over one hundred dead. Who are the one hundred? How were they slain? On what basis were they chosen to be slain? Were they defending property? Did they refuse to bow before Allah's overbearing champions of dogma? Did they bear the identifying mark of an alien idea, either Christianity or some obvious aspect of popular culture aligned with non-Islamic values? How does a newspaper's Saturday commentary juxtaposing the Prophet Mohammed's imagined bride with a favorite damsel among the Miss World contestants lead to the death of one hundred residents and the destruction of homes, businesses, and temples of worship? Islam in this context ceases to be religion, becomes instead the rallying symbol of the dispossessed and the disenfranchised denizens of the urban African shanty, who are easily incited by the demogogues of the mosque.
Observe the preview of life in USA when the Dissolution matures. Which may be a long away, or the season next. Event conspires with man to cast the dice.
Friday, November 22
Besotted by end-of-week weariness, we made note of the continuation of the Miss World mayhem. News services were fully engaged with the Nigerian violence; the slash and dash prose of the correspondents and editors provided a rousing read. In Prague the demonstrators aligned against NATO were reported to be fewer in number than expected, not so rambunctious as predicted, and cowed by cold weather and a riot squad restless to the extreme. Editors at CornDancer approved our unexpected winding down, even as the launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour from its pad in Florida was scratched because of poor weather conditions in far away Spain.
Saturday, November 23
Video imagery of President Bush speaking to Romanians in Bucharest — soft rain falling upon the urban scene, hundreds of thousands of liberated good comrades standing 'round the great man, the shield of bullet-proof glass in a rectangle encasing him, all in celebration of the long-suffering nation's proud new membership in NATO — reminded us beyond the sanctity of context of the fallen Nicolae Ceausescu and past revolutions gone bad. "God smiles on us," Mr. Bush at the end of his speech when a rainbow appeared in the sky.
In Nigeria, the leaders of Miss World yielded to Islam and moved the pageant and its beautiful contestants to London. Christians roused to opposition were burning mosques in the sunlight of Ramadan.
Above Florida the mighty rockets of Endeavour lifted the spaceship into orbit above the planet. The number thirteen had played a prominent role in pre-launch speculation by prophets of doom, who noted a concordance of numerological omens that presaged another Apollo 13, perhaps even the arrival of the dark double of Challenger. Not so! The astronauts and cosmonauts of the shuttle would some days hence be joining the three weary inhabitants of the International Space Station for Thanksgiving dinner in lofty orbit.
Sunday, November 24
We went out and searched for news. It was everywhere, nowhere all at once. The Christians were worn out and resting in preparation for the next round of production, the Muslims hungry and waiting for sunfall to break the fast and make merry, the Pagans marking time 'till the solstice, the abject heathens watching ballgames and raking autumn's leaves. We decided to call it a week, slip 'neath the sheets, and ponder continuing issues of homeland security, space exploration, the war against terrorism, and the psychic peace of the planet.
| David Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles |
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