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Saturday, March 05, 2005

Heil Me!

I was watching a Czech movie on TV the other day while I ate my lunch, and a phrase was uttered that I must have heard a thousand times throughout my life, and spoken aloud in as many boyhood games of "Japs and Commandos", or "Colditz", or while playing with my "Soldiers" or whatever? A simple, chilling phrase that had been nothing more to me, really, than a thoughtless boyhood association? The kind we all collected, pulled-out the drawer while we played? For british boys of a certain age there are many: "Aiiieeeeee!!"... "Banzai!!"... "As you wish, Effendi"... "Take that, Fritz!"... "Achtung! Schweinhund!"... "For you, Tommy, ze war is over."

And, "Heil Hitler!!"

Or, "Heil Hitler!!"<*-click-*> as we used to say - for it was always to be accompanied by a sharp snap of heels. Like I say: unthinking.

What struck me this time - I suppose for the very first time - as I watched the movie, aged forty-two, was the "Hitler!!"? It dawned on me that it must have required an extraordinary degree of insecurity to be so controlling that an everyday "Hello" had to be usurped to the cult?

Silly, really. But after that initial connection had been made, once that switch had been flicked, it was as though blackout curtains had suddenly parted and a darkened room all-at-once illuminated by a flood of images? Pictures that had hitherto stood outside together, huddled at the window, stamping feet on the frosty ground and wrapping arms about breath-steamed bodies, waiting impatiently for that moment? Images acquired, thoughts that popped, small connections made, all of them randomly collected over time, but set aside or buried or otherwise discarded until now? All came crowding in at once. Bearded, Erwach!

Pictures of Brezhnev and goose-stepped May Day parades; of Ayatollahs carried high in angry crowds; of Saddams and Assads and Kim Jong-Ils - or whatever Great Leader - glaring out of every wall; of NKPD's and KGB's and DPRK's and GDR's and PRC's, sinister initials whispered in hush? Of expectorating chhh-juntas, Galtieris, Myanmars? Of chests burdened by heavy medals, never earned. Of radio voices speaking ill; of loudspeakers hung on lampposts; Haw-Haws hanged by the neck; of Tokyo Roses and gimpy Göebbels, whose diary I long ago read but never since found in any bookshop? Of all the massive State and Party and Führer paraphernalia? All of it suddenly unified, gathered under one brooding flag, shouting and bullying "No other God but Meeeeeeee!!"

Odd, these strange epiphanies? As I grow older they manifest more frequently - things that I had always known, it seems, but never really noticed? All the tiny pieces I've collected begin to coalesce, and mutiny.

I try as a rule to avoid writing about politics, events, or whatever controversies arise out of the day. Chiefly because I'm not very good at it. Whenever I do I'm always left embarassed by the evident poverty of my rhetoric and the sophistry of my reasoning? It is no secret here in the home that I, Bearded, can not will not argue my way out of a paper bag; can be spun and runaround and rigmaroled by kiddies teens and grown-ups all. In other places - work places, say - I hide my disabilities behind a stoney-faced crabbit demeanour and brooding quietus. I am helped in this by the natural fall of my face while at rest, which is contrary the norm: Yours smiles, mine scowls. The consequent impression, I have been told, is quite unsettling; one of having been grilled in silence, and of having failed to convince. Sinister really, but completely false. How does the saying go? "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your gob and remove all doubt"?

But sometimes, it would seem, opinions must out: some small thing is noticed, and riles the subconscious to action. For me, the meek, it is an unvoiced loathing of all-consuming Cults of Self, of "I am the Boss of You". For me, the secretive closet obsessive, who hides his thoughts, opinions, sometimes even from himself - for me even me, some things have to be said out loud? I do not want to think of myself as being pro-war, but in the end I am. Who the hell would want to label themselves so? Certainly not an arthritic armchair chickenhawk liberal like me. It sounds so wrong - to be pro-war. It conjures images of havoc-steeped lardies wielding Browser of Power(+2) to summon dread Aries or flashing-eyed Athene, and casting them hither and thither about the darkenened earth at pointy-headed foes? Of yelping "8d12 - haHA!"

But so it is. My confession: I am pro-war. Pro-this-war. Pro-other-wars. I support the War on Terror, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, in all its current manifestations bar torture. And have done all along. It brings me no joy to say so, no glee, no rubbing of hands nor skipping steps: it is what it is, and it had to be. Saddam's card was marked the day the towers fell. I'm sure I'm not the only one to have thought so at the time? And though he had nothing whatever to do with the catastrophe, he had everything to do with the solution. That it was Bush whom I despise, or Blair, whom I admire, that it was either of them that did it worries me not. I'm glad they did, and I'm glad the bastard fell with all his accoutrements.

And though it is not over, not by any long chalk, and though you argue its consequences were unintended or otherwise; it seems to me, sitting here in the comfort of my living room - my chicken-livered "War Room" if you must - it seems to me, to draw some small analogy, that blue-stained fingers in Iraq have also hit hit a power switch? A bigger one than mine, for sure, but a switch nevertheless? That the curtains are slowly parting; that the tethered unconcious of an entire region is having its say, if not yet its day? That images of a different kind are clumping together and stamping their feet, content to be stood in the cold no more?

I hope to heaven it is so? You may think otherwise: you may have mustered a hundred darker pictures of disaster and misadventure waiting in the wings? You may sit now, as I do, but with your finger poised to hit your "TOLD YOU SO!!!!" scream button, having enumerated and elaborated every one of a thousand potential failures, one of which must come true one day some day any day twixt here and the ending of the world, proving you a master of prophecy? Anything, anything, preferable to "Bush was right" or "Blair did good"? But you all have your own blogs. Here in the Xenoverse, where small worlds collide, here we are not ashamed to say "Good job George", or "Good luck Tony." Here we hope for change. Here we offer our support, paltry though it is, to others in the world whose lives are harder, harsher, darker, than our own.


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