From outside one will always triumphantly impress theories upon the world and then fall straight into the ditch one has dug, but only from inside will one keep oneself and the world quiet and true. /FK (Contact: TBONotebooks at fastmail.fm. The Blue Octavo Notebooks welcomes mail, although we cannot guarantee a response. Your email may be posted in part on The Blue Octavo Notebooks unless otherwise requested.) Please enjoy the notebook entries, and thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Arab News Profiles in Courage: Hitler and Nero? Or: The Royal Refuge of Scoundrels and Other Contradictions of the Heart. The capture of Saddam Hussein seems to have momentarily jolted Arab News and opened up an actual perspective of rationality on the editorials page. But, as always, like a journalistic jouissance of the absurd, the Arab News abyss of the abysmal looms beneath such seemingly evenhanded rhetoric. This interesting enough piece in Arab News, “Give Them a Chance,” contains the following commentary:

Dictators and murderers are a breed apart. The lucky ones die in office. The majority live to suffer the humiliation and anger of their victims and those who survived them…. The Shah, Bokassa, Idi Amin, Ceausescu, Sese Seko of Zaire, Hitler, Mussolini, the Soviet apparatus, and last but not least, Saddam, the son of Hussein. The most notable of this lot were the most courageous: Nero and Hitler. At least Nero had the courage to fall on his sword and lament that Rome was losing a “great artist.” I wonder who is next.

Hmmmm, Idi Amin, you say? Funny to see that fellow’s name popping up in Saudi Arabia’s state-controlled press. After all, if Amin was such a terrible tyrant (and I’m not arguing that he wasn’t) then why, pray tell, would our dear friends the Saudis allow such a savage thug, along with his entourage, to live out not just his last days but the last ten years of his life in comfort and luxury in their royal kingdom? Amin even received medical treatment at the Saudis’ best medical institutions, including the King Faisal Specialist Hospital. Surely the kingdom would not allow the cretinous likes of Amin to live comfortably in their royal realm! Er, never mind. Did the author of this piece, Dr. Mohammad T. Al-Rasheed, write anything in protest of his royal government harboring such a murderous cretin during the ten years Amin lived in the kingdom? Just wondering. And I hope the good doctor, by badmouthing a long time guest of the kingdom, a guest to whom the Saudi government was so hospitable and welcoming for so many years, hasn’t set himself up for censure (or worse) by those in the royal family who might not appreciate their (late) special guest being described in such negative terms.

(Ah, but one wonders, as we so often must with our Saudi allies, about various things. Indeed, had Hitler not killed himself—sorry, not courageously killed himself—would the Saudi royal family of 1945 have offered this genocidal war criminal the same sorts of hospitality the Saudi royal family later extended to Amin, another genocidal war criminal? After all, if the Saudis saw fit to take in a sometimes-cannibal, mass-murdering thug like Amin, a thug who had involved himself in terrorism against Jews (not to mention his own country), why not a vegetarian, mass murdering thug like Hitler? At the least, the kingdom’s proclivity for Judenrein policies would have appealed to Hitler, and he would have even come with references from the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Give them a chance…)

Other than the remark about Nero and Hitler, this is one of the more cogent and rational commentaries I've read in the Arab News. Were the editors asleep at the wheel, or is the author merely a token voice for such occasional thoughts? I notice that the author is a regular contributor to the paper, and that they’ve censored him in the past. Go figure.

In other news, Saddam Hussein was a novelist, and a piss-poor one at that. His last delusional pseudo-epic is entitled “Be Gone Teddy Bears!” er, “Be Gone Demons!” and you’ll never guess who the arch-villain is. Would you believe an immortal, fat Jew whose presence runs throughout time? Eeek!

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