FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Dan Senor is Safe!

by RON JACOBS

 

On May 22, 2004, Counterpunch published a piece of mine simply titled “Turnaround.” This piece was a faux newspaper article written as if a freelance reporter sent it from Baghdad’s Green Zone. The article itself detailed a confession from Coalition spokesman Dan Senor that acknowledged that the US version of events regarding its recent attack on an Iraqi wedding that killed over forty people was a lie. It ended with Senor telling the assembled media that he had been willing to lie for the US because he thought that Saddam Hussein should be removed, but he couldn’t stomach lying about the murders of children. In the parody, he was then taken away by security contractors in mid-sentence. I thought I had made it clear that the piece was a parody by making the following the last sentence of the piece: “The White House went further, suggesting that Senor had either lost his mind or forgotten who was signing his paychecks.”

Imagine my surprise then, when I opened up my email late Friday and found a half-dozen emails from various readers asking me for verification of the story. Apparently, (and to my great surprise) many people thought the story was true. In fact, it was more than a half dozen. By Monday morning, I had received close to fifty emails asking me to verify the story. I responded to each email with the news that the piece was not true and was intended to point out that the people who run this government and its wars are shameless liars. They gladly lied about the WMDs, the invasion’s aftermath, and the nature and scope of the prisoner abuse, so why should we believe their version of the wedding attack? Once informed, the majority of the readers laughed at themselves and moved on. Others took offense at my work, calling the piece “not funny,” and irresponsible.

To be honest, I considered adding a disclaimer to the piece before I sent it in to the Counterpunch editors. After the first six emails, I considered such a move again, but decided against it, after a brief discussion with Jeffrey St. Clair. After all, how could someone not recognize the article for what it was-fantasy of the grandest order (grand because the scenario it suggests is grandiose, not because of the writing or anything)?

At first, this series of events reminded me of songwriter Randy Newman and the city of Boston. In the late 1970s he released a song titled “Short People” that poked fun at prejudice and discrimination based on appearances. The song was subsequently banned in Boston because the city government failed to recognize satire, taking the song at face value instead. (Boston had another comparable experience with Newman’s song “Rednecks.” This song poked fun at the redneck mentality and was taken up in all sincerity by some of the most racist elements of the white-skinned Bostonians who opposed school busing in that town). In short, the censors in Boston had no understanding of the mechanics of satire. One could argue that they didn’t even know what the word meant.

As I think about the responses to what I thought was quite obviously satire, I began to realize that something deeper was at hand. My piece attempted to point out that rulers are by the nature of their position liars. Furthermore, when they are put in the position of defending a war, they become even greater liars. However, the responses were based on something different. Some of the folks who emailed me were curious as to the article’s truth because it confirmed their worst fears: the US had truly become the police state that they feared. Most however, were coming from a different direction. They wanted to believe that Senor had finally seen the folly of his ways and was distancing himself from the murderous debacle in Iraq. The government of the United States is capable of salvation and it just takes a few conscientious people in positions of power to return that government to its providential place. Interestingly, it was pointed out to me that a good number of these responses came from a listserv set up by and for supporters of former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean. This makes sense. These folks held out the hope that if their man became president then this country would be a “good” country again. It would carry the mantle of US enlightenment and liberalism to those people in other lands who haven’t seen the light. Redemption of our role in the world is possible.

Of course, this perception fails to take into account the fact that the war in Iraq is not Dan Senor’s war, nor is it George Bush’s. It’s not Donald Rumsfeld’s, no matter how much I want to blame it on him. It is America’s war and we have been fighting it since before 1990. The two major candidates in the 2004 presidential elections are not debating why the war was started or how to end it. They are debating only how it was “managed.”

Despite the obvious unreality of my piece, many readers assumed it to be real. In other words, the times we live in have become so unreal that fantasy has become reality and reality is the stuff of fantasy. It’s as if we walked into a Philip K. Dick acid trip on Bob Dylan’s Highway 61.

RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is being republished by Verso.

He can be reached at: rjacobs@zoo.uvm.ed

 

 

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
Eoin Higgins
Please Clap: the Jeb Bush Campaign Pre-Mortem
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Invisible Epidemic: Radiation and Rising Rates of Thyroid Cancer
Andre Vltchek
Europe is Built on Corpses and Plunder
Jack Smith
Obama Readies to Fight in Libya, Again
Robert Fantina
As Goes Iowa, So Goes the Nation?
John Grant
Israel Moves to Check Its Artists
Dean Baker
Market Turmoil, the Fed and the Presidential Election
John Wight
Who Was Cecil Rhodes?
David Macaray
Will There Ever Be Anyone Better Than Bernie Sanders?
Christopher Brauchli
Suffer Little Children: From Brazil to Flint
JP Sottile
Did Fox News Help the GOP Establishment Get Its Groove Back?
Binoy Kampmark
Legalizing Cruelties: the Australian High Court and Indefinite Offshore Detention
John Feffer
Wrestling With Iran
Rob Prince – Ibrahim Kazerooni
Syria Again
Louisa Willcox
Park Service Finally Stands Up for Grizzlies and Us
Farzana Versey
Of Beyoncé, Trudeau and Culture Predators
Pete Dolack
Fanaticism and Fantasy Drive Purported TPP ‘Benefits’
Murray Dobbin
Canada and the TPP
Steve Horn
Army of Lobbyists Push LNG Exports, Methane Hydrates, Coal in Senate Energy Bill
Colin Todhunter
“Lies, Lies and More Lies” – GMOs, Poisoned Agriculture and Toxic Rants
Franklin Lamb
ISIS Erasing Our Cultural Heritage in Syria
David Mihalyfy
#realacademicbios Deserve Real Reform
Graham Peebles
Unjust and Dysfunctional: Asylum in the UK
Yves Engler
On Unions and Class Struggle
Alfredo Lopez
The ‘Bern’ and the Internet
Missy Comley Beattie
Super Propaganda
Ed Rampell
Great Caesar’s Ghost!: A Specter Haunts Hollywood in the Coen’s Anti-Anti-Commie Goofball Comedy
Cesar Chelala
The Public Health Impact of Domestic Violence
Ron Jacobs
Cold Weather Comforts of a Certain Sort
Charles Komanoff
On the Passing of the Jefferson Airplane
Charles R. Larson
Can One Survive the Holocaust?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail