Forget the whales, let's save the West
By Linda S. Heard
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Sep 27, 2006, 00:41

As each day passes, I'm convinced I've stepped through a mirror and slipped into a confusing parallel reality where nothing is what it seems. Either that or western societies are in need of urgent saving.

Take Britain. Its Labour prime minister is a rabid neocon in left-of-centre clothing. Hardly anybody wants him including 70 percent of the British people while even his own cabinet is salivating over the thought of his exit.

Those tree-hugging Brits complain the prime minister flies with the Potomac hawks, but instead of taking the hint and cancelling his subscription to the National Review, Tony Blair is going around berating Europeans for being anti-American, while he hobnobs with the right-wing media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Murdoch is, of course, the owner of Fox News, a network which calls itself "Fair and balanced," which is rather like saying, "I'm a pigmy from Outer Mongolia."

A trip to the Fox News website finds Bill O'Reilly, having given up his fight against a war on Christmas (that nobody else has ever heard of), now advocating torture. Little wonder the most viewed video on that site last week was "Beware of bagged spinach."

But what can you expect in the "Land of the Free" where the president endorses eavesdropping on his citizen's private phone calls and shifty intelligence agents coerce librarians into giving away the secrets of America's reading habits just in case they're tempted with tomes titles "How to make a bomb in ten easy steps."

They even launched a programme called TIPS that urged TV repairmen and piano tuners to rifle through your drawers in search of suspicious objects while you were out walking the dog or icing the carrot cake.

Horror of horrors

In a country where you can be bumped off a flight for wearing a T-shirt emblazoned in Arabic or, horror of horrors, for secreting a jar of face cream it's no wonder people consider Popeye's favourite nibble the most sensible viewing option.

But who am I to talk when my own country the 51st state, is little better. There they make mothers taste their babies' milk at airports while little old ladies must hand over such deadly weapons as a nail file or a prosthetic leg.

As for puffers of the dreaded nicotine they are shortly to be criminalised if they dare to light up in the local pub or, God forbid, in a restaurant, in case the staff keel over from the fumes and pollute the soup.

Worse, the 25 per cent of Britons who have committed the heinous crime of being obese may shortly be refused fertility treatments or hip replacements unless they promise to say "no" to donuts.

Not that I want to criticise the security services or the police who do a fantastic job. Unless that is you happen to be a bearded Muslim when you can be shot down in your own home by chemically-suited Bobbies, who may accuse you of turning your breakfast beans into a deadly WMD.

Some of my regular readers say I'm too hard on the US and Britain. I'd append a few of their emails except most are unprintable. So in the spirit of Fox News's fairness I should point out that these two fine examples of western democracies are altruistic enough to gift democratic values to poor unfortunates in the Middle East.

You must admit they've done a tremendous job in Afghanistan where people are once again free to cultivate pretty red flowers to their hearts' content. Even the Taliban, who used to frown on such agricultural pursuits, have seen the light. The black-turbaned ones have offered their protection to farmers in return for a cut with which they buy weapons.

In Iraq, they've really excelled themselves. Inside Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, democracy is flourishing to the extent they change their prime minister every year. There's just one problem. Those conveyor belt Iraqi leaders have rarely stepped out from behind the walls unless they are summoned to make obeisance in Washington or decide to pay a neighbourly visit to their buddies in Tehran.

The Iraqi people are enjoying the fruits of American-style democracy too. Who needs electricity, jobs or functioning hospitals when they can vote? And, as an extra bonus, be applauded around the world for their bravery in stepping beyond their front doors to dodge trigger happy Marines and show off their driving skills evading roadside bombs.

It may soon be lucky Iran's turn to join America's new Middle East thanks to its uranium enrichment programme sanctioned by the NPT but forbidden by the self-appointed rulers of the New World Empire. In this topsy-turvy universe, countries that sign up to the treaty such as Iraq and Iran and allow inspectors from the nuclear watchdog the IAEA to crawl all over them are ripe for invasion. On the other hand, countries that pooh-pooh the NPT are often recipients of jolly pats on the back from the US president, whose own nuclear facilities are naturally beyond inspection.

Egypt isn't immune from the trend either when its pro-western, pro-democracy Kefaya movement is calling for an end to the Camp David peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. What's next? Will the Brotherhood send their children to Kibbutz summer camps?

I will end with one piece of gratuitous advice for all my puffing, burger-chomping, Kumbaya-warbling, genuine freedom-loving kindred spirits. Now is the time to stand up to be counted before the Age of the Robots is upon us. And, as a glorious first step in defiance, don't forget to eat your spinach even if

Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at

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