Hard and dangerous and damned courageous. "It's a very uncomfortable thing to question the honesty and motives of your leaders," the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman recently said. "I'm saying that the men who are controlling our destiny are lying. Not many journalists or many people want to confront them." But Krugman is willing, twice weekly, and he has paid a price: fame and influence as a columnist for the most important newspaper in the world.
Hard and dangerous and damned courageous and self-sacrificing. "If you're an actor who is pro-war, you're a hero," the actress and comic Janeane Garofalo explained in The Washington Post. "If you're an actor against the war, you're suspect." Garofalo is a leading suspect in the anti-war group Win Without War, and she says she has been "marginalized." But she doesn't flinch: "I refuse to allow my government and the mainstream media to bully me into accepting a war that is immoral and illegal. If it means people make fun of me or think I'm a jerk, or I lose a job here and there, that means nothing to me."
Hard and dangerous and damned courageous and self-sacrificing and so very lonely, to be one of the thinking handful in a nation of dumb, deluded philistines. "Never before have so many put up with so much from so few," lamented James Wolcott, the voice of conscience at a magazine that in a recent issue published twenty-five pages of "Young Scandinavians in Their Skivvies for No Particular Reason" (sorry, twenty-two: the last three pages were a Dolce & Gabbana ad).
Despite corporate robbery, a trampling of civil liberties that makes the Red scare look like a dress rehearsal, a rapist urge to ram a paved road or oil pipeline through every nature preserve, a Tony Soprano foreign policy that fingers which dirtbag country we're going to whack next, an unaccountable vice president who pops out of his groundhog hole only to raise money for the Republican Party, or play bad cop on Meet the Press, and the corny spectacle of the president himself imploring us to visit a shut-in and say "I love you" (and they accused Clinton of being Empath in Chief!), despite all this, the huddled, befuddled masses have been as quiet as church mice. Those in power can't be accused of thwarting the will of the people, because the people seem to have lost their will, or traded it in for Powerball tickets.
Hard and dangerous and damned courageous and self-sacrificing and so very lonely and really scary. "I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers," the novelist Kurt Vonnegut Jr. said in an interview in In These Times. Vonnegut, who used to be the Conscience of Our Culture when Norman Mailer was hung over and Gore Vidal was in Ravello, went on,
It has been taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d'etat imaginable. And those now in charge of the federal government are upper-crust C students who know no history or geography, plus not-so-closeted white supremacists, aka "Christians," and plus, most frightening, psychopathic personalities, or "PP's."
Hard and dangerous and damned courageous and self-sacrificing and so very lonely and really scary and rather repetitious, especially for the global Conscience of Our Culture. "War is always the worst of solutions," declared French President Jacques Chirac in late January, asserting once again a philosophical stance toward tyranny that French governments have applied with admirable consistency since the days when the wind blew from Vichy. "We have adopted a strategy of using inspectors," Chirac said, in the days before Colin Powell was to make the case for war before the United Nations Security Council. And we have still got a strategy and it is still inspections, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin declared, after Powell had conclusively demonstrated that Iraq was continuing to defy and cheat the inspection regime, in what was clearly defined as a "material breach" of Security Council Resolution 1441, sufficient as a cause for the immediate use of force. "Why go to war if there still exists some unused space in Resolution 1441?" said the admirably consistent De Villepin, whose con-sistency was helped by the fact that his statement responding to the pre-sentation of evidence that France had demanded was in fact written before the evidence was presented. "Consistent with the logic of this resolution, we must move on to a new stage and further strengthen the inspections." Also, we must surrender.