Al-Hayat, December 30, 2008
Pinter was one of those who created this culture and built its modern renaissance in philosophy, poetry, theater and novel. More importantly, they built its living conscience, by standing against totalitarian thought, against their own governments, which were democratic at home and racist and authoritarian abroad. They supported the liberation of peoples, just like liberating the mind from old and new myths and superstitions. The old was represented by the thought of the Middle Ages or even earlier, a mindset that was renewed by politicians and intellectuals in order to justify the US government's wars of annihilation, which were called holy wars, and which stank of oil.
Upon receiving his Nobel Prize for Literature, Pinter abandoned the decorum of the occasion. He did not deliver a sermon on theater or poetry. He rather talked about US wars from World War II until today, whether a Democrat or Republican was in the White House, from Nicaragua to Iraq, whose invasion he considered an act of banditry. Pinter said that President George Bush and Osama bin Laden were two sides of the same coin, even though each one was dead set against the other.
This moral stance by the European elite, which prevailed during the second half of the 20th century, has not been absent from American intellectuals like Noam Chomsky and Miller, who once stood with Pinter at the American embassy in Ankara to protest Turkey's authoritarianism and harsh repression of the opposition, causing extreme embarrassment for Washington vis-à-vis one of its closest allies.
This is the shining face of Western culture. But it has another, dark side, one represented by intellectuals who stand with the authorities, the speechwriters of presidents who are sunk in the labyrinth of political hypocrisy. Perhaps America's neoconservatives are the best example of these racists. Bush's visions were derived from such types. One of these theorists, Norman Podhoretz, who inspired the US president to use the term "Islamofascism," once said: "Spreading learning and prosperity in the Islamic world can't end terror, as was the case in Europe after the Second World War (Marshall Plan); therefore, there must be war and an ideology of containment, economically, politically and militarily. We must boost these three aspects so that they lead to victory."
Which Western culture do we choose? Some of us have chosen the backwardness of the neoconservatives. They accompany the US or Israeli tanks to spread the coming peace in the Middle East, in Iraq and Lebanon, and recently Gaza. They recite the verses by Pinter, as a type of praise, and not cynically like he did:
God bless America:
Here they go again,
The Yanks in their armored parade
Chanting their ballads of joy
As they gallop across the big world
Praising America's God.
The gutters are clogged with the dead
The ones who couldn't join in
The others refusing to sing
The ones who are losing their voice
The ones who've forgotten the tune.
The riders have whips which cut.
Your head rolls onto the sand
Your head is a pool in the dirt
Your head is a stain in the dust
Your eyes have gone out and your nose
Sniffs only the pong of the dead."
Glorifying impending death in the name of peace.
Original head: "Glorifying Impending Death in the Name of Peace"