Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Smearing Vonnegut

Just after we got the surprise apology and retraction of the Emma Brockes' doctored interview with Noam Chomsky from the Guardian, we get this miserable hatchet job* on Kurt Vonnegut in the Weekend Australian. Or there is the shorter and even worse version, titled US author lauds suicide bombers. First of all, the interviewer David Nason is some utterly shallow clueless boob who finds Vonnegut's world view viscerally distasteful and hasn't even bothered to read Vonnegut's work before interviewing him. Then the "interview is 75% Nason and 25% Vonnegut. To top it off, Nason spends most of the article measuring him against the standards of his own self-righteous emotional correctness.

Now this Vonnegut "interview" has already started to generate a predictable wave of Vonnegut bashing even on the left similar to the earlier rounds of attacks on Ward Churchill. Any understanding of why the insurgents are fighting us in Iraq, other than "they hate us for our freedom" must be attacked and the person expressing the view must be ritually cast out from the world of civilized discourse. Contrast this piece of crap with a real interview of Vonnegut in In These Times.

And speaking of Ward Churchill, there is a good interview with him, Racism is a cowering thing in the new issue of Briarpatch.

And there is still another interesting (but short) interview with Patti Smith in this week's Village Voice about the 30th Anniversary of Horses.

*Thanks to Counago & Spaves for the reference.


At 11/22/2005 3:35 PM, Blogger Comandante AgĂ­ said...

That's funny. I've been on a Vonnegut binge lately. I read Slaughterhouse-Five and now I'm reading Cat's Cradle. I love his stuff.

You're right about the interview being all about Nason. The Weekend Australian is a Murdoch outfit, is it not? That would explain the negative portrayal of Mr. Vonnegut.

"What George Bush and his gang did not realise was that people fight back. Peace wasn't restored in Vietnam until we got kicked out. Everything's quiet there now."

Umm, yeah. The man is simply stating the facts. Of course people are going to fight back if you invade their homeland--it's natural. I'd fight back if some foreign power invaded the U.S., bombed my city, abducted my friends and killed my family members.

There's a long pause before Vonnegut speaks again: "It is sweet and noble - sweet and honourable I guess it is - to die for what you believe in."

This borders on the outrageous. Is the author of one of the great anti-war books of the 20th century seriously saying that terrorists who kill civilians are "sweet and honourable"?

The comment about "terrorists" was clearly directed at Iraq. I personally wouldn't go so far as to call a suicide bomber "honorable". I don't quite understand how desparate one would be in order to blow themselves up. But I consider myself lucky that I've never had to experience that type of utter desparation before.

At 11/22/2005 6:45 PM, Blogger velid said...

Yeah, I read it as about Iraq as well.

And the part that most outrages people is

"It is sweet and noble - sweet and honourable I guess it is - to die for what you believe in."

But this is actually just a reference to a WWI era anti-war poem Dulce et Decorum est and the phrase is to say the least thick with irony. The last line of the poem is

The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

(It is sweet and honorable to die for your country)


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