Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Peace activists and suicide bombers

Jerry Stratton, November 21, 2005

Unlike James Lileks, I am a big fan of Kurt Vonnegut’s fiction, and I will continue to be. I still tend to agree with most of what Lileks says about Vonnegut’s support for suicide bombers as it was reported in The Weekend Australian’s US author lauds suicide bombers:

“They are dying for their own self-respect,” [Vonnegut] 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.”

Personally, I think it’s a worse thing to deprive someone of their own self-life.... You have to admit that it’s better to be alive, even if you have to deal with VOA satellite transmissions telling you your race is so worthless that it deserves a democracy like Iowans and Britons and Japanese. Oh, we could just nuke your cities and take your oil, but we hate you so much we’re going to stay here and bleed and force your warring factions to hold subcommittee meetings on the constitutional process. It’s bored our people to tears; now it’s your turn.

But, I do have to take issue with his comment about the article itself:

Vonnegut is described in the article as a “peace activist.”

As a wise giant said in The Princess Bride--“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

What Australian journalist David Nason actually wrote as far as I can tell is:

Vonnegut’s comments are sharply at odds with his reputation as a peace activist...

It seems to me that Nason knew exactly what “peace activist” means when he wrote that.

Further, Lileks opines on whether this will mean that Vonnegut’s reputation will be sullied among journalists and reviewers, and guesses that it won’t. But the answer is in the article, where the journalist ends with:

But Vonnegut’s latest comments are likely to make many people wonder if old age has finally caught up with a grand old man of American letters.

Now, I’d like to see the full transcript before passing judgement on Vonnegut, but it certainly seems to me that Lileks’s fears about the meaning of “peace activist” are unfounded, at least with regard to this article.

  1. <- Proposition 75
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