November 22, 2005

Lileks on Kurt Vonnegut

Earlier this week, I posted on Kurt Vonnegut's praise for suicide bombers that kill innocent men, women and children:

Vonnegut said it was "sweet and honourable" to die for what you believe in, and rejected the idea that terrorists were motivated by twisted religious beliefs.

"They are dying for their own self-respect", he said. "It's a terrible thing to deprive someone of their self-respect. It's like your culture is nothing, your race is nothing, you're nothing.

Asked if he thought of terrorists as soldiers, Vonnegut, a decorated World War II veteran, said: "I regard them as very brave people, yes."

He equated the actions of suicide bombers with US president Harry Truman's 1945 decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. ... Vonnegut suggested suicide bombers must feel an "amazing high". He said: "You would know death is going to be painless, so the anticipation - it must be an amazing high."

I thought - evidently, incorrectly - that even the most ardent of my leftist trolls would not take up for this asshole. I was wrong. One individual, in particular, wrote that I was wrong to condemn Mr. Vonnegut because he was "a great American" (I was not too sure how being an American had anything to do with the fact that he was glorifying mass murderers) and that the occupation of Iraq by America and "Palestine" by Israel was what was wrong.
James Lilek's reaction to Vonnegut's statements is priceless:

I never "got into" Vonnegut, or "dug" his work like my "buds," several of whom pronounced his work as "intense," so I am not particularly bothered to find he applauds suicide bombers, and thinks they experience "an amazing high." In the literal sense, perhaps; it's possible that skull fragments may reach the third floor before they carom off a balcony and patter back to earth.

I should note that Mr. Vonnegut's comments, reported in the Australian, were made while touring to promote a collection of anti-Bush essays, and as such all attempts to refute them is intended to suppress his freedom of speech. It goes without saying he will be spending his senior years naked in a cell, fighting rats for a scrap of bread, writing brave quatrains on the wall with a shoelace-tip dipped in rat's blood, awakened daily at 4 AM with bright lights and the national anthem. Such is life in Chimpsuit McHallihitler's America. But I press on; this dissent isn't going to suppress itself....Mr. Vonnegut again, a patriot whose dissent is being cruelly ground into the nurturing earth before your eyes seems to think that suicide bombings literally happen in a vacuum, an unpopulated space where the bombers just pop like soap bubbles. It may be painless for them alas but it is not painless for the victims. You'd think such an obvious observation would go without saying, but we are dealing with an intellectual. What Vonnegut calls brave (blowing yourself up so you can fly up to the great Bunny Rahours the sky and rut with fragrant whores blessed with self-regenerating hymens) does not exactly compare to the bravery required of the survivors.

Anticipating murder for the glory of God must be an amazing high. Most people understand the emotional motivation that animates these people, but don't spend much time on it, anymore than they wonder about the joy a child rapist feels when he has the kid in the woods. It's one thing to consider it; it's another to luxuriate in your considerations. An amazing high.

Dude. Don't bogart the Semtex.

If these comments are reported accurately (if they didn't remove the part where he says "nevertheless, they are horrid madmen who willingly slaughter children in the service of a depraved concept of God and human society") then this ought to be a deal-breaker. This ought to be the point where the man is shunned, not feted, and held to account in every subsequent mention of his name and works. As in "Vonnegut, whose early works exposed the madness and nihilism of war, would later support the 'sweet and honourable' nature of men who set off nailbombs in public squares in the name of the organization that killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11." But this will be regarded as nothing more than a beloved old uncle letting off a fart at a wedding and grinning widely when people turn around. Which is more likely: a book review that says Vonnegut's criticisms of the Bush Regime must be considered in light of the author's support of suicide bombers, or a review that says Vonnegut has made statements lauding bombers, BUT he brings up troubling issues / confronts the hypocrisy inherent in Washington / speaks truth to power / speaks Hindu to houseplants / etc.

Exactly.
Mr. Vonnegut may have the right to say such things, however, this does not mean that people of conscience cannot rise up and say "shut up, you idiot"!

I really do not understand the glorification of suicide bombers by some on the left (note the use of "some" - I do not mean to imply all leftists agree with Mr. Vonnegut; although, it would be really, really nice to hear condemnation from Democratic leaders as opposed to the usual suspects: Michelle Malkin, The National Review, Bill O'Reilly, etc.).

In the context of the Palestinian intifada or Iraq, I guess that one could mistakenly cling to the notion that the murder of innocents is being done in order to "liberate" certain "occupied areas". You know, the glory of the revolution... Every one loves the "underdog", right?

Even if you agree that these groups have legitimate political grievances (which I do not, but we will have to agree to disagree on that point), the killing of innocents should be the deal breaker - you know, the moment when even the most strident supporter says "enough is enough".

There is absolutely no justification for the mass murder of patrons at a Sbarro restaurant, a bus, a discoteque, a grocery store, etc. Each such act is, by itself, an act of unimaginable barbarism that should not be congratulated, understood or respected in any manner.

These terrorists are cowards. They choose their targets for a reason: because they are easy enough to kill. The terrorists are not brave enough to fight against the military, so they target the unarmed.
The next time that someone attempts to glorify these deranged individuals, would it be too much to ask for someone to remind these people to think about the victims? Not only those that are killed, but also the people that have to live without all of their limbs and deep psychological scars for the rest of their lives.
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