FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A New Kind of Anger About Bush

by KURT NIMMO

 

I can hear it now. Nicholson Baker wants to kill the president. He’s a threat to national security. He should be locked up. Maybe share a rubber-room with John Hinckley. If Bill O’Reilly thinks Amiri Baraka is a “pinhead” for writing a poem about 9/11, what does he think of Baker for writing prose about the assassination of Bush?

Barker’s short novel is entitled Checkpoint. It’s basically a conversation between two characters who discuss assassinating George Bush with “radio-controlled flying saws” and a “remote-controlled boulder made of depleted uranium.” It’s an absurd novel, according to Andrew Gumbel of the Independent, hardly anything to be worried about.

But then Richard Humphreys of Portland, Oregon, made an absurd and no less surrealistic comment about a “burning Bush” during Dubya’s March 2001 trip to Sioux Falls. He was sentenced to 37 months in prison for making the comment in a bar. “I said God might speak to the world through a burning Bush,” Humphreys testified during his trial. “I had said that before and I thought it was funny.”

Baker’s novel may be absurd, even comical — especially the dadaistic flying saws — but his anger is not. “[Bush] is beyond the beyond. What he’s done with this war. The murder of the innocent. And now the prisons. It’s too much. It makes me so angry. And it’s a new kind of anger, too.” Bush is an “unelected [expletive] drunken OILMAN” who is “squatting” in the White House and “muttering over his prayer book every morning.” Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld are “rusted hulks” and “zombies” who have “fought their way back up out of the peat bogs where they’ve been lying, and they’re stumbling around with grubs scurrying in and out of their noses and they’re going, ‘We – are – your – advisors.'”

No doubt a lot of people declare such things in the privacy of their own homes with trusted friends gathered — and the more prescient among them understand it is unwise to mutter such in mixed company on street corners or dark corners of bars.

As for the unwise, consider the case of Barry Reingold, a 60-year-old San Francisco retiree, who made the mistake of “talking about terrorism and September 11th, oil profits, capitalism and Afghanistan” a bit too casually at the local gym. Reingold was visited by the FBI for his effort.

On the other side of the country, in Durham, North Carolina, A.J. Brown, a Durham Tech freshman attending college with the help of an American Civil Liberties Union scholarship, had the Secret Service and Durham police knock on her door for the crime of possessing an anti-Bush poster.

In Chicago, Dan Muller and Andrew Mandell of Voices in the Wilderness were denounced to the police after they told a clerk at the post office they did not want to buy stamps bearing an image of Old Glory. They were grilled by the police and the Post Master on two different occasions.

Speaking your mind about the Boy Emperor or stepping outside parameters of acceptable right-wing behavior can be considered a contact support these days.

Ask the anti-FTAA protesters in Miami last year.

Or Steve Kurtz, the Buffalo artist accused of terrorism for creating artwork critical of biotechnology and transgenic contamination. Kurtz became a kissing cousin to Osama and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in short order due to his artwork and the books he keeps in his house — or rather the books he kept until they were confiscated by the FBI — books frowned upon by suspicious rescue workers responding to a call for help after Kurtz’s wife suffered a heart attack.

Who said AG Ashcroft’s Operation TIPS — the Stasi-like spy on your neighbor program — is dead in the water?

I can hear the Repugs now denouncing Baker. It matters not that Checkpoint is a work of fiction and not an assassination how-to manual. Simply criticizing Bush these days in public is dangerous. Ashcroft, as top cop, has said as much.

I can hear Rush Limbaugh and the vile hate radio chorus dominating the publicly owned airwaves calling for action against the indignant novelist.

It brings to mind the Muslim fundies who wanted Salman Rushdie’s head on a platter for slandering the prophet Muhammad. Of course, if the right-wingers go after Barker, they will not likely be calling for his death in a fatwa. Instead, they will likely call for him to serve time in a prison cell — and in America most prisons (with the exception of country club prisons where rich people are sent on rare occasion) are places where many people wish they were dead. For, when you think about it, the difference between Ashcroft and Ayatollah Khomeini is only a matter of minor degree. Both serve the art critic in the sky.

Of course, the whole thing may simply blow over, although it is doubtful — a link to an article reviewing Baker’s novel was posted on the Drudge Report, a sort of National Enquirer of the right web site. Matt Drudge often breaks stories. It is claimed he broke the Lewinsky story. Right-wingers flock to the site and the mention of an artist not only slamming Bush — so indecorously calling him a dry drunk and bible-thumper — but also and inexcusably fantasizing his demise so outlandishly by way of saw and uranium will certainly get their attention.

In short, Nicholson Baker’s novel is a dinner bell for irascible right-wing nut cases. I can hear Michael Savage frothing. Ann Coulter clucking. David Horowitz growling in that inimitable way only former Stalinists growl. It matters not that Barker’s book is fiction — and mainly surrealistic fiction at that — because the fact of the matter is he hates Bush and has the impertinence to say so. Literature is no excuse. Novelists are suspect. Hollywood filmmakers and movie stars are suspect. In fact, culture itself is suspect. Or culture disapproved by right-wingers, that is.

For as Hermann Goering taunted, “When I hear the word culture I reach for my revolver.”

KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent no holds barred blog at www.kurtnimmo.com/blogger.html . Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. A collection of his essays for CounterPunch, Another Day in the Empire, is now available from Dandelion Books.

He can be reached at: nimmo@zianet.com

 

 

 

 

KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent no holds barred blog at www.kurtnimmo.com/ . Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. A collection of his essays for CounterPunch, Another Day in the Empire, is now available from Dandelion Books. He can be reached at: nimmo@zianet.com

More articles by:
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered: a Fragment (Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre)
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail