What role does a privileged minority play in terrorism?

Published 9:59 am Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The time is coming — not next year perhaps not for 10 or 20 years, but it is coming — when every writer will have a choice of being silenced altogether or of producing the dope that a privileged minority demands.”

—George Orwell

So what is the dope that a privileged minority demands? And who are the privileged minorities? Do they reside in Austin? Maybe I could ask Bud Higgins about this the next time I stop in his bookstore or I could possibly go to the Philomathian Religious Book store and get their thoughts.

I’ve always admired George Orwell but never really understood him. I guess I was more intrigued with writers like Richard Brautigan who shortened his life in the end. I don’t think he produced “the dope” that a privileged minority demanded. It may have been a minority to begin with his “Dreaming of Babylon,” a must read for me in the mid-70s. A book I would have enjoyed reading in school.

Another favorite was Gene McCarthy’s words and writings. I think Jane Wescott sent me a McCarthy campaign pin to Vietnam that I wore proudly for a short time until I ran into a high-ranking NCO.

Robert Bly wrote of him, “I have always loved Gene McCarthy’s sly and musical poems, so lively and so generous to the human foolishness” on the back cover of McCarthy’s book, “Selected Poems,” where one of them, “My Lai Conversation,” reads: How old are you, small Vietnamese boy?/Six fingers. Six years./Why did you carry water to the wounded soldier, now dead?/Your father./Your father was enemy of free world./Who told you to carry water to your father?/Your mother!/Your mother is also enemy of free world./You get into ditch with your mother./American politician has said,/“It is better to kill you as a boy in the elephant grass of Vietnam/Than to have to kill you as a man in the rye grass in the USA.”/You understand,/It is easier to die/Where you know the names of the birds, the trees/ and the grass/Than in a strange country./You will be number 128 in the body count for today./High body count will make the Commander-in-Chief/of free world much encouraged./Good-bye, small six-year-old Vietnamese boy, enemy of free world.

When he died I submitted a letter to the editor that was accepted in the Star Tribune that read: “On Saturday the United States lost one of its finest statesmen, Minnesota’s own Eugene McCarthy, one of the first to speak out against the Vietnam conflict, saying “as it went, you could tell people running it didn’t know what was going on.”

I suppose some of you read “The Road to Times Square” in the Sunday Star Tribune, the story of Faisal Shahzad accused of planting a bomb in New York: “Tracing one man’s journey to radicalism carves a path from an affluent Pakistani upbringing to an American college, from an average married life to anger at ‘foreign infidel forces.’” In 2006 he sent emails indicating, “the West is at war with Islam, and Muslims are suffering humiliation because they have strayed from their religious duty to fight back.” He felt that American Muslims were treated differently after 9/11. A 2008 article Shahzad gave a clear indication that he was heading down a militant path.

In the end his New York landlord said: “Where are you going to find a guy like this? Nice guy and look what happens.”

Did we have a hand in what happens I wonder?

On a softer side I find my peace and quiet walking around the Mill Pond. It’s welcoming to see the two geese couples together each couple with there three little ones. They hang together like neighbors. They must have been the first hatches. I don’t get there that often but there has been a smaller supply of geese it seems and the shoreline is not bound in gunk.

It was fun watching some young boys casting along the shoreline. I stopped at the culvert that flows into the millpond that looks like it comes from the Hormel Plant. There were about 15 fish gathered at the entrance, which is often the case, looking in. When I got down close to them they all swam away.

I haven’t taken Mello to the Mill Pond yet. I’m afraid she would bark at everybody she sees. One of the younger residents I work with is coaching me on how to discipline Mello. I have yet to neither watch the “dog whisperer” nor will I.