A persistent claim against this column is that it doesn’t deal enough in local events. Fair enough. This space could deal in the currency of hanky-panky surrounding local council meetings, nincompoop legislators, pipsqueak workers in the public sector with loads of paid vacation, or such knuckleheadedness. But then you’d be asleep, wouldn’t you?
It’s so much more fun when the world is your stage. And it’s so much more urgent as our nation marches remorselessly toward war. These are dark times, and not just because gas threatens to hit $3 per gallon. (Got your attention?) Ever since Herodotus penned his Histories, the Western world has viewed non-Western, non-democratic cultures as one big den of savages. No wonder we want to bomb the Middle East into oblivion.
• Last fall, as President Bush defined and redefined “terrism,” our leader told us we must hang Saddam Hussein’s head on a wall before “one single American is hurt.” Now he tells the nation we’re going to Iraq “not to conquer anybody, but to liberate people.” Someone ought to tell him it’s OK to admit that U.S. interests in the region boil down to O-I-L. We “liberated” Kuwait in 1991, and women there still can’t vote. We “liberated” Afghanistan a year ago, and President Hamid Karzai is still dodging bullets as we nation-build. It’s telling, too, that one of our most valued allies in the coming regime-change is former Iraqi general Nizar Khazraji, currently held in Denmark on charges that he led a late 1980s campaign that killed up to 100,000 Kurds. Do we pick winners, or what? No word on whether Bush Caesar plans to punish Denmark for hindering our efforts to combat “terrism.” Unlike Iraq, North Korea has already bagged their U.N. inspectors. That nation is also the world’s biggest distributor of ballistic missiles. Heck, we let them sell Scuds to Yemen. The Stalinist state, which has starved an estimated one-third of its people, also possesses chemical and biological weapons, not to mention weapons-grade plutonium.
• The war on drugs has obviously given way to our war on “terrism.” One of the U.S. pilots who mistakenly bombed four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan claims his shoddy aim was brought on by the ingestion of dexamphetamine, or “go pills.” An Air Force official admitted the voluntary use of the pills by U.S. pilots is accepted.
• Movie-goers thrilled to the anti-government rants of gun nut James Nichols in Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine. Now The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report magazine revealed that the brother of Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols took the white supremacist’s “Soldier’s Ransom” oath that declares war on Jews, gays and racially-mixed couples.
• It’s Lott time again. When Cherokee High School in Canton, Ga., banned wearing the Confederate flag on the premise that it disrupted the learning environment for black students, some white students threw out the old argument about “Southern pride.” They also donned shirts reading, “Jesus and the Confederate Battle Flag: Banned From Our Schools But Forever in Our Hearts.” As the bumper sticker says, “The South Will Whine Again.” Or something like that.
• In yet more Southern news, a trio of U.S. senators, one retired, got brief face time as Confederate officers in the Civil War movie, Gods and Generals. Sen. George Allen, R-Va.; Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W. Va.; and old Sen. Phil Gramm of the Lone Star State signed on. Unlike Lott’s comments and Attorney General John Ashcroft’s Confederate sympathies, this is only a movie.Ben Fultonbfulton@slweekly.com