Thursday, December 08, 2005

Harold Pinter is So Truthful It Hurts

Famous, old and ailing British playwright, Harold Pinter, nailed the US and UK in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech yesterday. The 75-year-old author of 32 plays, 22 screenplays and works of prose and poetry, made his living as an actor under the pseudonym, David Baron, before writing his first play, “The Birthday Party” in 1960. Pinter was diagnosed with throat cancer a number of years ago. His doctors would not permit him to travel and his speech was delivered via a video recording that was played yesterday at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm. Pinter has been increasingly anti-American in recent years and he has not kept his views to himself. In a report about the Pinter speech in the NYT this morning (“Playwright Takes a Prize and a Jab at U.S.”), Sarah Lyall quoted Pinter saying that the US had lied to justify the war in Iraq and "supported and in many cases engendered every right-wing military dictatorship" in the last 50 years. "The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis,” Pinter said. "I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road,” Pinter said, “brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be, but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self-love." Pinter said American leaders anesthetize the public. "It's a scintillating stratagem…language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words 'the American people' provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don't need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and your critical faculties but it's very comfortable." He accused the United States of using torture in Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, and called the invasion of Iraq (he also said Britain was responsible) "a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law." He said Prime Minister Tony Blair should be tried before an international criminal court. It’s the duty of the writer to hold an image up to scrutiny, Pinter said, and the duty of citizens "to define the real truth of our lives and our societies…if such a determination is not embodied in our political vision, we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us - the dignity of man.” The man is right.

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