It was a historic trip. Bizarre, yes, the motive unclear and unexplained. Most likely, it was just basic good will. Who got that ball rolling? Why and how Dennis Rodman? Don’t get me wrong: when I first heard of the two-day informal, unofficial good will gesture between two nearly equally bizarre cult celebrity figures, my heart warmed. Good old Rodman, the Worm! Being from Michigan but a fair weather basketball fan—only the Celtics-Lakers match-ups in the late ’80s every got me truly excited, and the Pistons never could—still, I couldn’t help but feel, not the usual fan-pride attached to pride of place, of city or state, but a sense of love when I watched Dennis Rodman, not on the court but off it, especially as he began to unravel, exhibiting ever stranger behavior with each new day. Why love? I don’t know, I really felt that, though, looking back on it. That time, the ’80s, was so dull and homogenized, any change seemed impossible, and here came someone who was real—the whole rap keep it real culture had not yet permeated every white suburb, hamlet and even rural community in the country. He was real—with wild emotions all over the place, you could say crazy (like any sane person), with opinions, with a brain, with feelings. In short, a real human being, someone trying to break out, to escape from the box, to break the chains, to allow human thought, feeling, expression, intelligence, to burst forth from the droning machine of electronic, highly monitored, predictable modern society. And, at least the impression I got back then from the media was, he was damaged, deeply hurt from early childhood perhaps; still a child, still looking for love. Well god damn!–who isn’t, in our western ‘civilization’: of broken families, broken ways, broken people, of making sure each individual flower is pounded into the same plastic square hole, where aggression, intolerance and hatred are nurtured by our masters, where memory, especially collective memory, is not allowed, where the powerless individual sits in his square box, on its square block, in some grid city—no squares or straight lines exist in nature, and they are very damaging to the psyche, as well as the literal flow of energy, but Master knows this—watching his square t.v., reading his square newspaper, thinking ‘scientifically’ because he’s got all the ‘facts’, his life fully regimented by clock and calendar, and thinking he is free!
Again last week, after a break of around twenty years, Dennis Rodman came and warmed my heart. This brilliant comedian, this big-hearted giant, reached out to pariah number one, an original axis of evil member, an alleged mass murderer, an oppressor and starver of millions of people. No, not Clinton, Bush, Blair or Obama—nobody on that scale, with literally millions—lots of women and children in there of course—murdered, maimed, starved, left to die easily preventable deaths, between those four Dear Leaders. Just the tiny, rather wacky Kim Jong something or other, from the utterly insignificant country of North Korea. Evil of course, you understand, letting his people starve, power mad, control freak. The usual petty dictator with his fetish for Americana—basketball, movies, fashions, fast food, cartoon characters, with probably a dose of longing for our pure corn-fed white girls in there too. Who could really blame him? As someone, an American, who has spent many miserable years abroad (not forgetting the disillusionment found in what was once home when I returned to the States for periods), I can finally get the obsession with the United States. As someone who spent three years in Korea (the southern part), I can finally understand why the Korean word for the USA is miguk–‘beautiful country’. Forget what ignorant soldiers did to turn that around—presumably they heard it all the time during the Korean War, as I did every single day I lived in Seoul: Miguk! Miguk saram! The GI’s most likely brought that term into their everyday parlance, because it sounded funny—me gook. Those Gooks! And revived it in Vietnam, cuz what’s the diff’rence ‘tween them slanty-eyes. So, they admired us, they loved us, and we returned that love with spite, indifference, racism, sarcasm—and of course, utter devastation and mass murder in the form of war. Still, I very much see America’s appeal. It is, or up till very recently was, an overallvery friendly place, something that can only be appreciated by an American when they’ve been abroad, preferably for many years: people ain’t nice. Many, perhaps most Americans at least until recently have always been very idealistic, the types to open their hearts completely, to do the right thing of their own good will, to hate being told what to do, to have little respect for and much suspicion of ‘authority’, of politicians and other ‘leaders’. So: it is open, people talk to their neighbors (try living in England—they don’t), people are active, positive, and genuinely friendly (again, give England a shot, you gluttons for punishment). Above all, though, the place is hilarious. Even today, with all the paranoia and hardness, bitterness, anger, hatred and utter mistrust, mirth rules in the USA. Try it out. All you have to do is be funny, and people will flock to you, it’s true. Americans generally don’t put on any ‘proper airs’, like you get in, oh, England—they just genuinely want to be friends, to laugh together, to open up and bond. A great country—the greatest—I finally must admit this after more than fifteen years of fighting it.
Let’s get back to Rodman’s embassy of genuine good will, done in good faith—so rare is good faith these days—to reach out to another human, and to another people. No resemblance, in fact the exact opposite, literally, to all of the official foreign visits of boundless cynicism, the type Hilary loved to make, where all is lies, where everything said is the opposite of what is meant, where everything is in bad faith. The US government, in fact, literally NEVER does the right thing—I don’t want to go into every specific case right now, but, and this is unthinkable to far too many Americans, it is true. Human rights is never a concern—that sums it up, as that’s what our bogus foreign policy is based on, to make it palatable to all the decent, unsuspecting people at home. The truest human right, the longing to be genuinely free, to have true political power, which is to say the power to control one’s own life, is Public Enemy Number One to our masters. Any country which shows collective sanity, which decides it knows what’s best for itself, must be violently attacked—shocked and awed—lest this ideal of freedom begin to spread. Vietnam. Chile. East Timor. Yugoslavia. Palestine. Venezuela. Even Libya, if one looks just a bit outside the mainstream (and it is a constant, relentless stream of) lies, had many positive aspects, free health care and education, for starters. What happened to free speech? At home, what happens to protesters? They’re locked up, cordoned off, beaten, pepper-sprayed. What happened to a Free Press? What about any fledgling anarchist bookstore? Infiltrated, raided, boarded up: I saw this myself in Denver, where when a talk was given at the anarchist bookstore, now long-since raided and gone, the police would write down the license plate numbers of every car within a few block radius—in other words, anyone parked nearby has got a file. Voices of sanity, of compassion, of common decency must be crushed, priests organizing in the jungle must be murdered, bogus ‘grassroots’ organizations—the Tea Party and other fundamentalist mobs of complete ignoramuses—must be heavily funded and covered on the news with their message of intolerance and hatred and bigotry. Being war-ready is the goal, because war-ready people are easily swayed this way and that—remember 1984’s ‘now we’re fighting _____ and we’ve always been fighting _____’. I once happened upon a Tea Party ‘rally’ at the Capitol Building, again in Denver. There were hardly thirty people there, each with a well-printed hate message on his signboard, but at least three t.v. networks were present ‘covering’ this ‘event’, with their vans, and booms, and crews, and talking, vacant sorority girls (or ‘reporters’). On these same Capitol steps at around the same time I saw large protests, real ones, war protests and others, that literally got no media attention.
Rodman goes with an open heart, man to man, people to people—not forgetting too the hilarity. What wasn’t hilarious about the whole thing? He brought America with him, he brought hilarity. I watched Kim Jong Un, too, and was reminded of the Korean hilarity: those people have a great sense of humor, maybe more than anyone on earth, and they ain’t dumb either. So the whole affair was heart warming in this daily-more-grim world. A slap in the face to the Obamas, the Clintons, the Bushes, to the great propaganda machine (aka the Media), the learned professors—apologists for mass murder, for war (and they’re everywhere).
Rodman comes home, gets interviewed. I watched the Stephacrapolous interview—faux horror that he could play into the hands of a Human Rights Violator, and a good, lofty admonishing of this ghetto creature by Whitey. Now, you won’t go and do that again, nowwill you Dennis? Now, Rodman, he’s not your neighbor or your best friend, he’s a celebrity, he’s super-rich, he’s a pampered superstar athlete, he’s not really one of us. Ego, colossal—have I met him, do I know this? No. But I know superjocks, they’re a type, and John Elway or Isaiah Thomas or George Brett, nice though their public images at least once were, are no exceptions. So no illusions: don’t waste your life admiring jocks and celebrities, they don’t deserve it.
Rodman seemed to have been on a binge. Dark glasses. Slurred speech. Incoherent thought. Fuzzy. Not sharp. I don’t know if he’s always like that or not, I only know what I saw in this interview. Again, he’s no politician, no historian, no brain surgeon—not that he’s dumb. Everything Is Politics. Know this. Stephacrapolous said something like this himself: don’t you realize that you were playing into the dictator’s hands, into his propaganda machine? The same applies in God’s Own Country. If you throw up your arms and claim ignorance and say ‘oh I don’t know, I’m not political’, you are playing into our propaganda machine. There were so many chances, Dennis! I wanted to jump into the t.v. screen and coach you. From the Ever-So-Caring and Humanly Righteous Nanny State, here’s…..
Head Nanny: You call him an awesome guy. Were you aware of his threats to destroy the United States, and his horrendous record on human rights?…Don’t you think you had a responsibility to ask him about it, so you don’t be [sic] perceived as propping up his regime, his cult of personality?
Rodman: …he grew up in that kind of environment, especially when your grandpa, and your father…You know, one thing, the kid’s only twenty-eight years old–
Stephacrapolous: You called them great leaders, do you really believe that?
Rodman: He’s a great guy…
Stephacrapolous: A great guy who puts 200,000 people in prison camps?
Rodman: Well, you know and guess what? It’s amazing how we do the same thing here.
Stephacrapolous: We have prison camps here in the United States?
Rodman: No, we don’t have prison camps…………
Stephacrapolous: But it sound like you’re apologizing for him.
Rodman: No, I’m not apologizing for him. I think the fact that, you know, he’s a good guy to me. Guess what, he’s my friend… I don’t condone what he does…..
Stephacrapolous: Someone who hypothetically is a murderer who’s your friend is still a murderer.
Rodman: …..It’s just like we do over here in America, right? It’s amazing, we’ve got Presidents over here that do the same thing, right? It’s amazing that Bill Clinton could do one thing and have sex with his secretary and get away with it and still be powerful…
Stephacrapolous: How can you compare that to prison camps?
(Then Rodman sort peters out, and Stephacrapolous ends the interview before Rodman might start getting warm, because it’s obvious he has a pretty good clue about hypocrisy in the US.)
Now wait a minute. We’ve got something like two and a half million American citizens in our private, profiteering prison system—our Gulag—one of or possibly the harshest and most brutal in the world. Nearly one in a hundred people of our entire population is, yes, in prison. Human beings—just like you, locked up in cages, being raped, brutalized, murdered. Never a rehabilitated convict—just cruel and unusual punishment. Interesting Stephacrapolous had the presence of mind to say ‘here in the United States’, regarding prison camps. Because he certainly knows we’ve got them all over the world, Guantanamo being the most famous, these ‘black sites’–where there is no rule of law, no accountability to anyone, where torture is the norm and people, many of them innocent, are left to rot and die. And let’s consider Bradley Manning for a moment—we should all stop and consider this great hero every single day, and wish to emulate him. This is someone who has been held without charge for almost three years, nine months of it in solitary and in conditions that under international law constitute torture. For what? Going back to an earlier point: for being Public Enemy Number One, that is, a moral, compassionate person, a truthteller, a whistle blower—someone who could no longer stand by and helplessly watch as the day to day humdrum murders of civilians by the military continued. The ‘Collateral Murder’ video is simply work-a-day war: ‘keep shoot’n…. keep shoot’n.’ Manning knew the truth about war, and the truth that all of the horrors of Iraq and Afghanistan are whitewashed everyday by the whores of the press—no photos of the dead, no one even allowed to witness Americans coming home in caskets, endless euphemisms like ‘collateral damage’, when indiscriminate slaughter would be an accurate term. No one in the mainstream corporate press ever standing up and shouting (or writing): ‘God damn it! This is ALL WRONG. All war is wrong!’ I wish Rodman had said these things. He started to, in a vague way—but the spin meister of the Clinton Administration made short work of him.
And what about the ‘a murderer who’s your friend is still a murderer’ quip from this very cynical apologist for the greatest empire in history, for the most powerful and murderous military in history, for Iraq, Afghanistan, the ‘War on Terror’–for endless war? This weasel was himself a top adviser and friend to the mass-murderer Clinton, who willfully killed half a million children in Iraq during ten years of sanctions and bombings before the Iraq War, as well as the great humanitarian mission of carpet-bombing in Yugoslavia, among lesser crimes. Tut-tut, though, says sanctimonious George.
There was also the retired Col. Stephen Ganyard, USMC, smilingly saying to introduce this slick propaganda interview, ‘There’s nobody at the CIA who could tell you more, personally, about Kim Jong Un than Dennis Rodman, and that in itself is scary.’ This little throwaway remark, like everything in our highly-tuned propagandist media, has a purpose. The purpose here is tried and true: the ‘Awe-shucks, we’re just sort of bumbling around here’ image of the government and this most murderous secret police organization, the CIA. Do you think that it is true? Do you think Dennis Rodman really knows more about Kim than the CIA, which has information about literally everyone on earth, and no doubt a whole department dedicated to North Korea? Whose highly sophisticated hacking, spying, and satellite surveillance can find out pretty much anything about pretty much anyone?
Let me recommend a single book on Korea: The Hidden History of the Korean War, by the truly great muckraking journalist I.F. Stone, who actually went there–he didn’t just reprint dispatches sent from military high command in Tokyo. (In Korea at the same time was the great Australian muckraker, Wilfred Burchett, the first westerner into Hiroshima after the A-Bomb. I’ve not yet read him, but watched a fascinating interview with him on John Pilger’s website: whatever the story, he always went there. That was his very sound mantra. He lived in Communist Vietnam, covered the Korean War from the North, etc.) Parts of it will make you cry. I gaped through most of it. The short of it is, the entire Korean War was a military training exercise, MacArthur’s pet project (he was, literally, the Emperor of the East, based in Tokyo and overseeing a vast realm of yellow people, who very apparently were as expendable to him as vermin).
The whole ‘North invades South’ line was a hoax. He really, really wanted China to come in so he could exercise some more nuclear weapons, but the Chinese wouldn’t bite. Still, he was able to burn Seoul to the ground—the U.S. Military literally set it ablaze after evacuating it, ostensibly so the evil commies couldn’t get any booty. And all the starvation, the millions dead—this was all created by General Douglass MacArthur, with Truman’s consent, just really for fun, and of course big corporate contracts, new markets, etc. Read it.
Dan Trompeter isn’t sure if he’s working hard or hardly working. He also hates fascists, lies, greed, social control, the educational system, any system, royalty, the corporate-military structure, and meanness. He says, ‘Don’t be afraid. Stand up and be counted. Have moral courage!’ He lives in the UK, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.