My arm is in a sling. It was my turn to beat Mrs. Drew and in my excitement I pulled a muscle in my forearm. I should make more of an effort to control my emotions.
—Kenneth Patchen, The Journal of Albion Moonlight
Even in the 19th Century too many Europeans persisted in the belief that kings and queens and such were somehow some higher order of human. Floating still as a derelict on the waters of the continental consciousness the atavistic notion that there was something at least semi-divine about royal folk; that said humans literally lorded it over others because The Sky Lord had, for reasons that passeth understanding, ordained it that way.
Imagine the surprise, then, of young Hans Christian Andersen, when his mother took him out one day to see, live and in person, Frederick VI, King of Denmark, and occasionally of Norway. And, from his perch in the crowd, young Hans perceived that the royal fellow resembled more the man in the street, than the man in the moon.
“Oh!” Hans cried out. “He’s nothing more than a human being!”
His mother, horrified, hushed him. “Have you,” she hissed, “gone mad, child?”
Although this is not the rabbit hole down which I intend to go, it is worth noting that some people believe that Frederick was Hans’ biological father. And this empurpled personage did express something of an unusual interest in the lad, paying, for instance, for part of the young man’s education.
In any event, when in 1837 Andersen inscribed “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” he remembered this event—seeing the king as he was. In that tale, a couple of sharpies convince an emperor, wholly besotted with his personal apparel, that they possess a magic material from which they can weave a fine set of threads that will remain invisible “to everyone who was unfit for the office he held, or who was extraordinarily simple in character.”
The emperor commands that these garments be prepared at once. And so they were.
Of course, in truth, no clothes existed at all. The rogue tailors pocketed the silk and gold they had requested for inclusion in the royal robes, and, when they announced their task completed, presented the emperor with precisely . . . nothing.
The emperor, presented with nothing, says to himself: “How is this? I can see nothing! This is indeed a terrible affair! Am I a simpleton, or am I unfit to be an Emperor? That would be the worst thing that could happen!” And so he effusively praises the miscreants for their magnificent work. As had his ministers and courtiers before him—likewise fearing that their perception of the non-existence of the emperor’s new clothes signified some fault within themselves, rather than the Reality that the clothes did not exist at all.
And so the emperor proudly dons his new non-suit, and proceeds to parade, nude, before the people.
The people too had been apprised that their lord would be clad in clothes visible only to the worthy. And so, rather than comment on the spectacle of the royal one wandering naked before them, they gabble madly of non-Reality: “Oh! How beautiful are our Emperor’s new clothes! What a magnificent train there is to the mantle; and how gracefully the scarf hangs!”
Till some anonymous little boy gives voice to the true: “But the Emperor has nothing at all on!” At which point the farce collapses. Except to the emperor and his minions: “The Emperor was vexed, for he knew that the people were right; but he thought the procession must go on now! And the lords of the bedchamber took greater pains than ever, to appear holding up a train, although, in reality, there was no train to hold.”
Andersen’s story was at the printer, when he decided to change the ending. Originally, there was no boy. And the emperor passed through the whole of the people without a soul speaking the truth. All believed it wiser to remain silent.
The peculiar penchant of humans for believing that identifying something as Wrong is somehow worse than the Wrong itself, is everywhere manifest.
It was recently on display at the Orange Place. When there appeared a Diary inscribed by a survivor of grievous childhood sexual abuse, who wasn’t much moved to mourn the passing of Joe Paterno, erstwhile emperor, because Paterno chose to continue to fiddle about with boys brutalizing each other on a lawn over a ball, rather than acknowledge that his once and future lieutenant was off in the weeds engaging in child-rape and other sexual mayhem.
Umbrage, in the comments, and in feeder diaries, was repeatedly expressed, on such matters as the diarist’s decision to employ the word “fuck,” or to select the moment of Paterno’s passing as a time to note that this emperor diddled with passing lanes and body blocks, while his charges were shoved into showers and criminally stripped of their clothes.
The Diary, in short was Rude. And the Rude, so went the complaint, trumped the Wrong.
“I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said ‘shit,’ than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”
The “shit,” then, so much more Wrong than the starving, dead children.
Who, whenever they are invoked, deserve at least this benediction, from Richard Crashaw, inscribed back in the day when humans could still naively, touchingly, blind themselves that another, better world, exists after this one:
Go, smiling souls, your new-built cages break,
In heaven you’ll learn to sing, ere here to speak,
Nor let the milky fonts that bathe your thirst
Be your delay;
The place that calls you hence is, at the worst,
Milk all the way.
The dawn of the Obama administration brought forth the phenomenon of ceaseless howls of outrage directed at people with functioning cerebrums, all of whom observed racism in this country resurgent with the installation of a black man in the White House.
Any human not in a persistent vegetative state has seen that, as an example, the teabaggers were born and bred of, and depend upon as their very oxygen, racism.
That, as Jill Lepore put it in The Whites Of Their Eyes, this racism so inflames teabaggers and others of their ilk that “everything about Barack Obama and his administration [is] somehow alarming, as if his election had ripped a tear in the fabric of time.”
An observation last week repeated by Lee Siegel, in a piece in the New York Times, explaining the appeal of Mitt Romney as the whitest motherfucker to run for president in living memory: “[W]hether he means to or not, Mr. Romney connects with a central evangelic fantasy: that the Barack Obama years, far from being the way forward, are in fact a historical aberration, a tear in the white space-time continuum.”
And yet one can hear, for 12 hours every day, on the hate-radio programs that blanket more than 600 radio stations, which wave their fetid air into every household in this land, that voicing these correct perceptions of racism, are of several magnitudes Worse than the racism itself.
Alleged leftoids went through something similar, some will recall, there on the Orange Place. Where, for months, for years, deafening lamentations sounded, garments were feverishly rended, at expressions of the correct perception that racism exists too on the left, and, yea verily, demonstrably on that very site.
That this was denied is, in a way, as touching, though exasperating, as those who would cling to Crashaw’s 400-year-old delusion that starved-unto-death children go to a Heaven where there is “milk all the way.” Rather than just . . . wink out. Forever.
That the emperor has new clothes: it’s a dream, that dies hard.
As the Obama administration too consists of humans, it is not immune to this malady.
And so this week we have been subjected to the spectacle of former CIA agent John Kiriakou indicted for allegedly speaking to reporters, and/or criminal-defense attorneys, and/or other such miscreants, of “classified information,” concerning the torture of the War on Terra prisoner Abu Zubaydah.
Though, so far as is known, no one involved in actually torturing Zubaydah, has been brought to account, at any level.
Here, the Obama administration subscribing to the notion that speaking of the Wrong, is greater than the Wrong itself.
As I wrote here, Abu Zubaydah is, to me, the ground zero, the original sin of the War on Terra. In addition to that piece, I have previously written about Zubaydah here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here. I imagine I’ll be writing about him for so long as I write.
Though—it’s curious—nobody really knows where he is. It is thought that he is in Guantanamo. But nobody really knows.
Though I know of one place he is. Every day. And that’s in my head.
Abu Zubaydah was of the inheritance that Barack Obama received from George II. And that Zubaydah has not been released, is not being cared for, is still somewhere in the gulag of the War on Terra—this is, to me, Obama’s “to kill a mockingbird” sin.
Because this is a man who is literally insane. Was known to be insane within days after he was apprehended. Was further known to be of no intelligence value whatsoever. As useful to the pursuit of the War on Terra as any grievously mentally ill man or woman picked up off any American street.
And yet he is still out there. In there. Somewhere.
Because Kiriakou has been indicted for passing on “classified information,” I want to begin by making my position clear on such information.
I don’t believe in it.
I don’t  believe in secret intelligence. A couple years ago, I said on this site that I believed that all intelligence collected by the nation’s ever-expanding array of intelligence agencies should be posted on the web, so that the American people—who after all are those for whom this intelligence is collected—may read it and judge it for themselves. I was promptly pronounced a loon. Maybe so, maybe so. But is a fact that if all the intelligence collected by BushCo about Iraq were to have been posted to the web, neither the Congress, nor the American people, would ever have sanctioned Operation Iraqi Fiefdom.
At any rate, I don’t care what Kiriakou supposedly murmured that was “classified.” I am currently immured in the United States of America, and that means I am obligated to fork over money that is then paid to various humans who gather information that is subsequently classified as “secret.”
Since I pay for it, I have a right to hear it, read it. And since “America” and “American” are nonsensical, larval constructs that have no weight or meaning in the real world, all peoples elsewhere on this planet have a right to hear it, read it, too.
Where Kiriakou transgressed Reality is not in dribbling forth “classified” information, but in the spin he fitfully put upon it.
He originally publicly claimed that Abu Zubaydah had been waterboarded, that the waterboarding caused him to give up useful information, and that therefore waterboarding, though probably torture, was useful.
The first assertion is true. The second two are bloody lies.
Because this is what we know of Abu Zubaydah.
Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries “in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3″—a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail “what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said.” Dan Coleman, then the FBI’s top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, “This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality.”
Abu Zubaydah also appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations; rather, he was al-Qaeda’s go-to guy for minor logistics—travel for wives and children and the like. That judgment was “echoed at the top of CIA and was, of course, briefed to the President and Vice President,” Suskind writes. And yet somehow, in a speech delivered two weeks later, President Bush portrayed Abu Zubaydah as “one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States.”
When CIA Director George Tenet told George II that Abu Zubaydah was grievously mentally ill, with no useful intelligence embedded anywhere in his sadly disordered brain, this is what took place:
“I said he was important,” Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. “You’re not going to let me lose face on this, are you?”
“No sir, Mr. President,” Tenet replied.
Bush “was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth,” Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, “Do some of these harsh methods really work?”
Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a waterboard, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety—against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, “thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each . . . target.”
And so, Suskind writes, “the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered.”
It is possible, if not probable, that one or more arms of Darth Cheney’s “dark side” octopus snatched the lives from three Saudi princes and a Pakistani air force general, after they were falsely fingered as Al Qaeda contacts by the mad, tortured Zubaydah.
And here we see: a fatal “emperor’s new clothes” world. George II had said publicly that Zubaydah was “important.” That he “was a top operative plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States.”
And so they tortured him. Until, from desperation, from the desperation of believing that he was drowning, dying, he became what they wanted him to be. And from what they wanted him to be, they fanned out their “dark side” squads, to bring death and destruction, upon the figments he had hallucinated, in agony, in hopes they would let him be.
They created their own clothes. Emperor George II. And all his little people.
For reasons that passeth understanding, ObamaCo keeps on keeping on. As if the BushCo myth of Abu Zubaydah were Real.
Though, as I’ve detailed here and here, the judges in the federal courts are by now well aware of Mr. Zubaydah. And heave right out of any case any “evidence” attributed to him. And so much War on Terra “evidence,” as these cases demonstrate, flows back to this insane, tortured man.
For those in the know, like these judges, the wheels have completely come off the Zubaydah outrage.
But, as in Andersen’s story, “the procession must go on[;] and the lords of the bedchamber took greater pains than ever, to appear holding up a train, although, in reality, there was no train to hold.”
And all George II’s aforementioned “little people,” of course, constitute the American people.
Because the dirty little secret of torture in America is that the American people don’t give a damn if it continues.
They proved this in 2004, when they re-elected George II. Even as all the facts of Abu Ghraib had been laid out before them. They didn’t care. They returned the torturer-in-chief to office. That is what they wanted to do. And so that is what they did.
Further, Guantanamo is today not closed, and the NDAA is today the law of the land, because the American people want it that way.
More inconvenient “emperor’s new clothes.”
For no piece of legislation passes so massively through both houses of Congress, as these have, unless great clots of congressmembers tremble in fear that if they do not vote the way that they do, they may be driven from office by their constituents. They are controlled by fear, these congressmembers. As are the voters whose fears control them.
It’s simple, really. Getting to this place. All humans have to do is Otherize. And they’re very, very good at that. Are humans. Especially American humans. Who founded this nation by exterminating one people. Built it by enslaving another. And sustain it today by grinding a third, and a fourth:
what’s all the fuss
they ain’t like us
they don’t matter anyway
Almost all the humans in America, they’re ready to beat on Mrs. Drew. Only difference separating them, is the identity of Mrs. Drew.
Which is why so many purported leftoids too often make me ache.
Every day, I come to the Orange Place, and if I spend too much time there, I feel like I’m attending a fucking hanging party. I feel the Frankenstein mob, all around me. Torches and pitchforks. Somebody to hung.
Would be nice if they looked at themselves. Reviewed their history. Sieve their comments.
Those who want to have this and that arrested. Who want this and that locked away in a cage. Who want this and that prosecuted. Who want this and that perpwalked. This 1000 and that 10,000 locked away with no key. Who want this and that waterboarded. Who want this locked away forever, and that blown up. Who want this pronounced “evil.” That pronounced “evil.” All pronounced “evil.”
So often, for their draconian desires, they marshal no more evidence than did those who put away Abu Zubaydah. But they think you do. Because it’s all clear in their minds. True-believer minds. True-believer minds . . . just like BushCo minds. From true-believer minds, they would visit on people like BushCo, what people like BushCo visited on its victims. And would feel just as righteous as did they.
Such folks: Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
And I know this: in the world to come, nobody belongs in a cage. Nobody.
Ask somebody who been there sometime. What it’s like. When the left sets up tribunals.
American humans are very good at erecting war memorials. Someday, inevitably, some memorial will be erected, somewhere, in some fashion, to the War on Terra.
Heretofore, all such memorials have been static. They did not move. But here in the 21st Century, humans are so beyond that. They can build anything. And so this is what they should build, American humans, to commemorate their War on Terra. In three dimensions, and in constant movement. What they—you—have made of Abu Zubaydah. What he’s out there, in there, somewhere doing. As this piece you read.
“He spent all of his time masturbating. Like a monkey in the zoo. He went at it so much, at some point he injured himself. They had to intervene. He didn’t care that they were watching him. He masturbated constantly. He wasn’t facing the camera, but it was rigged so there was no place for him not to be seen.
“He complained to the interrogator that he would never have the chance to feel a woman’s touch again, and lament that he would never have children. He freaked at one point, because there was blood in his ejaculate. He saved it for the doctors in a tissue, to show them in the morning.
“The doctor said not to worry.”