23 December 2010

Open Letter to John Whittingdale, chairman of the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee

Mr Whittingdale,

The Guardian writes today: "John Whittingdale, chairman of the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee, attacked Boyle's comments as "deeply offensive" and hard for Channel 4 to justify. He also called for an immediate Ofcom investigation."

Your comments are outrageously hypocritical and blatant, cheap demagoguery that one would expect from a ruling member in a totalitarian state, which is what this country's government is increasingly beginning to look like.

Anyone with half a brain could see that Boyle's use of the terms, as Channel 4 state, was "clearly intended" as satirical. It is apparent that John Stuart Mill's comments on Conservative's are right on the ball where you are concerned. Either you are incredibly stupid or, as I suspect, you are a deeply cynical, amoral phsycopath.

What is 'deeply offensive', however, is that you sir, voted for an illegal, criminal war of aggression on Iraq. You voted for rejecting a second UN resolution, you voted to reject the motion that the case for was unproven, and you voted to reject the motion that the case for war was not established. Your voting record on this issue puts you firmly on the same moral level as the 1939 Nazi party led by one Adolf Hitler, and clearly shows your hatred of true democracy, as you ignored the democratic wishes of the British people, the majority of whom were firmly against the war, and could see through the lies used to sell it.

What is 'deeply offensive' sir,  is your complete lack of concern, for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan civilians, or as  Frankie Boyle stated,  "we are murdering a load of shepherds. What gets me is our callousness as a society when we read out our dead on the news first, because our lives are more important. Other people's aren't worth as much."

I suggest you read Mark Curtis's book 'Unpeople' to read the history of the British government's "Ministry of War, department of nigger bombing,", and his article "The colonial precedent", which ends with this passage, remarkably similar to Mr Boyle's remarks: "Iraqis are in practice regarded as "unpeople" whose deaths matter little in the pursuit of western power; the major block on committing atrocities is the fear of being exposed and ministers will do all they can to cover them up. The public is the major threat to their strategy, which explains why they resort to public deception campaigns." It is this public deception which Wikileaks is highlighting, and to which Boyle was referring.

I also suggest you take a good read of Pullitzer prize-winning journalist Chris Hedge's piece at truthdig.com: "Bitter Memories of War on the Way to Jail" in which he writes:

"War perverts and destroys you. It pushes you closer and closer to your own annihilation—spiritual, emotional and, finally, physical. It destroys the continuity of life, tearing apart all systems, economic, social, environmental and political, that sustain us as human beings. War is necrophilia. The essence of war is death. War is a state of almost pure sin with its goals of hatred and destruction. It is organized sadism. War fosters alienation and leads inevitably to nihilism. It is a turning away from the sanctity of life.

And yet the mythic narratives about war perpetuate the allure of power and violence. They perpetuate the seductiveness of the godlike force that comes with the license to kill with impunity. All images and narratives about war disseminated by the state, the press, religious institutions, schools and the entertainment industry are gross and distorted lies. The clash between the fabricated myth about war and the truth about war leaves those of us who return from war alienated, angry and often unable to communicate. We can’t find the words to describe war’s reality. It is as if the wider culture sucked the words out from us and left us to sputter incoherencies. How can you speak meaningfully about organized murder? Anything you say is gibberish.

The sophisticated forms of industrial killing, coupled with the amoral decisions of politicians and military leaders who direct and fund war, hide war’s reality from public view. But those who have been in combat see death up close. Only their story tells the moral truth about war. The power of the Washington march was that we all knew this story. We had no need to use stale and hackneyed clichés about war. We grieved together.

War, once it begins, fuels new and bizarre perversities, innovative forms of death to ward off the boredom of routine death. This is why we would drive into towns in Bosnia and find bodies crucified on the sides of barns or decapitated, burned and mutilated. That is why those slain in combat are treated as trophies by their killers, turned into grotesque pieces of performance art. I met soldiers who carried in their wallets the identity cards of men they killed. They showed them to me with the imploring look of a lost child.

We swiftly deform ourselves, our essence, in war. We give up individual conscience—maybe even consciousness—for the contagion of the crowd and the intoxication of violence. You survive war because you repress emotions. You do what you have to do. And this means killing. To make a moral choice, to defy war’s enticement, is often self-destructive. But once the survivors return home, once the danger, adrenaline highs and the pressure of the crowd are removed, the repressed emotions surface with a vengeance. Fear, rage, grief and guilt leap up like snake heads to consume lives and turn nights into long, sleepless bouts with terror. You drink to forget.
The masters of war are slaves to the idols of empire, power and greed, to the idols of careers, to the dead language of interests, national security, politics and propaganda. They kill and do not know what killing is. In the rise to power, they became smaller. Power consumes them. Once power is obtained they become its pawn. Like Shakespeare’s Richard III, politicians such as Barack Obama (and indeed one John Whittingdale. DS) fall prey to the forces they thought they had harnessed. The capacity to love, to cherish and protect life, may not always triumph, but it saves us. It keeps us human. It offers the only chance to escape from the contagion of war. Perhaps it is the only antidote. There are times when remaining human is the only victory possible.

The necrophilia of war is hidden under platitudes about honor, duty or comradeship.

I personally will not be happy until you and all your cronies who voted for this illegal war are standing in the dock of the ICC. You are a disgrace to this country and to any peace-loving person.

Yours most sincerely,

David Sketchley


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