Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Dogs are cheerful creatures and rarely, if ever, resort to self-annihilation. But dogs have never before been required to sniff for bombs at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial, not until President Bush came to India. But I am getting ahead of the story; since it is ordinary Americans and Indians who are a little blue.

Interviewed on the phone, by Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman, novelist Arundhati Roy was asked for her first impressions of Bush's visit to the country, and she responded...
"[I]t's been one of the weirdest times I've lived through, because on the streets, you have these hundreds of thousands of people protesting, and you have--we have a government that's been so obsequious that it makes your skin crawl, and we have stories in the corporate press in India which are unbelievable about how Bush arrived with 16 dogs that are staying in a five-star hotel and are not to be referred to as dogs, because they're actually officers in the U.S. Army.
The four-legged officers were cool with staying at the Maurya Sheraton, which Ms. Roy described as "the most expensive hotel in India". The doggies--excuse me--officers, were on duty later at the Gandhi Memorial, where they would have required medication, if they possessed a keener sense of irony or had caught the strong whiff of hypocrisy that clung to the air. Bush is photographed casting flower petals on the water, at the memorial of this iconic man of peace. Priceless.

Amy Goodman reported that in New Delhi alone, there were estimated to be 250,00 to 700,000 protesters to the President's visit. And aside from the President's dog-officer photo-op, there was only one other venue at which it was possible for him to appear with Laura. Once again, Arundhati Roy provides the flavor of the event...
"We have"..."the front page story today in the major newspaper"..."Laura Bush shooting with Boombah the bear"..."the front page story is why Bush missed his dessert at the banquet, and this whole nuclear deal, obviously, which sounds to me a bit like"..."I mean, I hate to be so rude, but it sounds like sort of like pimps negotiating how somebody should act with their client."

"And yesterday on the streets, while I was there, there were, you know, 53 widows, from my state of Kerala, of farmers who have committed suicide, because of the closing net of debt around them. Tens of thousands of farmers have committed suicide. And yet, you know, [Bush] arrived here with these corporates like ADS and Cogentrix and Unocal. All of them have such dubious records. It's really unbelievable, and yet if you see the way the CEOs and the corporates are falling over him--and I have to mention this, that they couldn't find a public space in India for Bush to speak, so he ended up,--the meeting was organized in the Delhi Zoo."
Bush's hosts in India wouldn't allow him to appear before Parliament, because in that kind of democratic environment, he was sure to be heckled. Clinton spoke there when he was President, but there would be no Parliament for George. And there would also be no recognition or media access to public sentiments on the street.
"I was there. In Delhi, there were demonstrations on two days continuously"...

"And yet, if you looked at the Indian news, you know, the major corporate Indian news, it is as if they never happened, because everybody's just so busy, even the heads of television stations who were invited to the lunch with Bush"..."they're being interviewed by their own employees, as if they're sort of corporate heads"..."on every channel , they are telling how Bush touched their hand or put his arm around their shoulder, and it's as if the demonstrations didn't happen."
By such accounts, we live in a world where every officer-and-doggie has his day. It is the surreal world of "Catch 22" or "Dr. Strangelove". What is approaching us, is a madhouse of the beguiled. That would be the protean, black and white world, where policies are never in error, but merely have to shift to accommodate more catastrophic circumstance. It's the world, dear reader, where you recognize that cowardice is contagious, in the Senate, and in other walks of life.

Fifty years ago, Edward R. Murrow said "We will not be driven into an age of unreason."..."No one man can terrorize a whole nation unless we are all his accomplices." This is true enough. But now, as then, it is not so much the one man, it is rather his accomplices who task us. And we have one means to prevail; we must be free of violence and lies.


Post a Comment