Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Even George Bush recognized the antiwar movement in a speech over Memorial Day weekend at the Tomb of the Unknowns. He praised their valuable protest when he said that “America has always been a reluctant warrior.” Too bad he is not made of the same stubborn reluctance of those who opposed the illegal Iraqi invasion and, instead, is one of those bully Americans (the religious right, the neocon right) always in a fever to excuse and invent reasons to invade sovereign nations.


The following short book review is from our largest, locally owned bookstore, Auntie's, and shows us in yet another way how badly neocons and other religious fundamentalists perform when they run the world. What's happening to "Riverbend" (if she's a legitimate writer telling a true story and not a plant somewhere by some agency with an ax to grind on someone's side other than our own) was foretold as yet another possible result of our invasion of Iraq. I recall the possibility of religious tyranny arising in Iraq as being one of the many possibilities that our religious neocons brushed aside in their rush to become war criminals. And here it comes—straight down the pike and into your living room—religious tyranny very much like the fundies here in America would like to impose upon us if they can just pack the Supreme Court to their liking. Fundies are great at acting without thinking, based on vague moral principles which don't apply to the way humans really act and think. If only they had the artist's and psychologist's knowledge of human behavior to go with their penchant for shooting first and asking questions later. Face it, neocons and religious fundamentalists everywhere, you've made a mess for all of us, not only for Riverbend.

[Open quote] BAGHDAD BURNING By Riverbend

$14.95 paperback / Feminist Press

Who is the writer called "Riverbend"? We know she's a young Iraqi woman in her mid-twenties, with a younger brother she calls "E" whose family lives with the daily terror of war. In August 2003, Riverbend began posting her "blog" on the Internet. Now, the first year of her dialogue has been published.

Whether or not you believe the decision to send our military into Iraq was right, you'll find Riverbend's reportage to be disturbing and moving.

Before the war, Riverbend had a job as a computer programmer, earning equal pay to that of men, and felt she had a bright future. Currently, she can't go outside her home without a male family member and fears for her life.

According to Riverbend, Iraq has gone from being a secular leader in the Middle East to a country awash in the tides of fundamentalism. She is able to discriminate between well-meaning Americans and what she believes to be misguided policies that plunged her country into chaos, however. Don't miss this poignant, moving diary written on the front line in Iraq.

Linda Bond [Close quote]


I'm amazed at how often what is going on today was an issue in the 1950s to such intellectuals as Stevenson and others in the Democratic party. Here's another Stevenson speech that could just as well be directed to today's neocons and religious fundamentalists as to the McCarthyites of yesteryear.

"As to you, the press, a last word. It is the habit of journalists, as of politicians, to see the world in terms of crisis rather than continuity; the big story is turmoil and disaster, not the quiet spectacle of men working. I trust that there will be none among my party who will hope for just a small, dandy little catastrophe to vindicate us. I am aware of the thesis that bad news sells papers. But neither politicians nor publishers have the right in this age to hope for the worst. Every newspaperman has talked at one time or another of how to handle the story of the end of the world; but who will be around to buy the 'extra'?

"Every lesson of history is that democracy flourishes when speech is freest. No issue is more important—and more troublesome—in this time of conflict with massive repression than the preservation of our right, even to bore each other. (I was flattered, by the way, by an unsigned letter last week that said: 'Please start talking again, Governor, or we'll be bored to death before we're starved to death.') Never was the responsibility of the majority press greater to make clear that it is concerned about the freedom of all Americans, and not merely about its own liberty to agree with itself. Your typewriter is a public trust. Its sound may be the most beautiful noise you know, but it has meaning and justification only if it is part of the glorious symphony of a free society." —Adlai Stevenson (as reported in Adlai Stevenson and the World by John Martin, p. 15)


What do you make of people who laugh at pain? Of course, in movies, we sometimes think we are watching people who laugh at pain and chortle at danger, but in reality, laughing when in excruciating pain is a whole 'nother kettle of molasses altogether. Though some people can do just that. Read the following paragraph.

"So perhaps in this patient the insular cortex was normal, so he could feel the pain, but the wire that goes from the insula to the rest of the limbic system and the anterior cingulate was cut: a disconnection similar to that seen in the Capgras patient. Such a situation would produce the two key ingredients required for laughter and humor: one part of the brain signals a potential danger but the very next instant another part—the anterior cingulate—does not receive a confirmatory signal, thereby leading to the conclusion 'it's a false alarm.' Hence the patient starts laughing and giggling uncontrollably." (Ramachandran's A BRIEF TOUR OF HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS, pp. 22-23)

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