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US Writer Opposed Lying & War

Gore VidalGore Vidal (1925-2012)

Outstanding American writer Gore Vidal died this week. Gore Vidal was a  brilliant American writer and a resolute opponent of the interconnected evils of lying and war. Eugene Luther Gore Vidal ( October 3, 1925 – July 31, 2012) was a writer of essays, novels, screenplays and Broadway plays. His numerous books included “Myra Breckinridge”, the  historical novels “Julian”, “Burr” and “Lincoln” and “The City and the Pillar” that was  notable for featuring explicit homosexuality. [1].

Gore Vidal was anti-war and demolished  his barbarous critics with scathing wit. Gore Vidal has died but lives on in his writings and comments as exampled below.

Gore Vidal on lying in a UK interview with Melvyn Bragg (2008): Gore Vidal: Unlike most Americans who lie all the time, I hate lying. And here I am surrounded with these hills [in Hollywood] full of liars — some very talented. Melvyn Bragg: What do you mean by lying in that sense? Do you mean telling fictions? Vidal: Yeah, about themselves, about their beliefs, about their histories. Degrees, from universities — this is piled up lies. Americans are not interested in the truth about anything. They assume everybody is lying because they go out and lie everyday about the automobile they are trying to sell you…This is a country of hoax. P.T. Barnum is the god of this republic, which is no longer a republic alas. It is an oligarchy and a rather vicious one. Bragg: Can I quote a bit from Montaigne — something from Montaigne that you quote and refer to several times in these memoirs [of yours], from his essay on lying –Vidal: yes, wonderful…Bragg: “Lying is an accursed vice. It is only our words which bind us together and make us human. If we realized the horror and weight of lying, we would see that it is more worthy of the stake than other crimes.” Vidal: … and I’ll drop the match [to set aflame the convict].Yes, it is … — you see this whole American society is based on advertising, which in turn grabbed on to something called television which could just perpetrate lies everywhere into this society and does and did. So I have lived in a rather troubling time.” [2].

Gore Vidal on Apartheid Israel and the Israel Lobby (1997): “Sometime in the late 1950s, that world-class gossip and occasional historian, John F. Kennedy, told me how, in 1948, Harry S. Truman had been pretty much abandoned by everyone when he came to run for president. Then an American Zionist brought him two million dollars in cash, in a suitcase, aboard his whistle-stop campaign train. 'That's why our recognition of Israel was rushed through so fast.' As neither Jack nor I was an antisemite (unlike his father and my grandfather) we took this to be just another funny story about Truman and the serene corruption of American politics. Unfortunately, the hurried recognition of Israel as a state has resulted in forty-five years of murderous confusion, and the destruction of what Zionist fellow travellers thought would be a pluralistic state - home to its native population of Muslims, Christians and Jews, as well as a future home to peaceful European and American Jewish immigrants, even the ones who affected to believe that the great realtor in the sky had given them, in perpetuity, the lands of Judea and Samaria. Since many of the immigrants were good socialists in Europe, we assumed that they would not allow the new state to become a theocracy, and that the native Palestinians could live with them as equals.

This was not meant to be. I shall not rehearse the wars and alarms of that unhappy region. But I will say that the hasty invention of Israel has poisoned the political and intellectual life of the USA, Israel's unlikely patron. Unlikely, because no other minority in American history has ever hijacked so much money from the American taxpayers in order to invest in a 'homeland'. It is as if the American taxpayer had been obliged to support the Pope in his reconquest of the Papal States simply because one third of our people are Roman Catholic. Had this been attempted, there would have been a great uproar and Congress would have said no. But a religious minority of less than two per cent has bought or intimidated seventy senators (the necessary two thirds to overcome an unlikely presidential veto) while enjoying support of the media.” [3].

Gore Vidal on 9/11 and the Iraq War in an interview with Amy Goodman (2008): Amy Goodman: And so, here we are, moved into the sixth year of the war with Iraq, longer than the US was involved in World War II.  Gore Vidal: Yes, incredible. That was such a huge operation on two great continents against two modern enemies. And we’re fighting little jungle wars for no reason, because we have a president who knows nothing about anything. He’s just blank. But he wants to show off: ‘I’m a wartime president! I’m a wartime president!’ He goes yap, yap, yap. He’s like a crazed terrier. And look where he got us. I didn’t realize — I think I’ve always had a good idea about my native land, but I didn’t think that institutionally we were so easy to overthrow, because it was a coup d’etat, 9/11. The whole went crashing. And when we got rid of — when they got rid of Magna Carta, I thought, well, really, this wasn’t much of a republic to begin with. [4].

Gore Vidal on American Empire in an interview with Amy Goodman (2008): “Amy Goodman: How did we get to be so hated, Gore Vidal? Gore Vidal: Well, there are many odious traits that Americans have that the rest of the world doesn’t like. Constant boasting with not much to boast about, that gets on other people’s nerves. The idea that, somehow or other, the whole world belongs to us and everybody should do what we tell them to do, they don’t really like that. Weird, but they don’t. There has never been a people less suited for world dominion than the Americans of the twentieth century and twenty-first century.  Henry James was very good on that subject. The time of the Spanish-American War, he was a violently against that war and saw it as the beginning of imperialism, and he was not an imperialist. And he said, “You know, where empire civilized the British, empire will corrupt us even more, and we will extend the reign of Tammany Hall to every island country on earth.” [4]

For decent people around the planet who have almost no effective speech in the democracies turned Murdocracies and Lobbyocracies, Gore Vidal was one of the rare champions who could demolish the liars, the racists, the homophobes, the war mongers and war criminals with his brilliant, biting wit. The UK Guardian  paid tribute to the passing of Gore Vidal by presenting 26 of his most memorable sayings of which the most relevant to American “democracy” are  "Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates" , "Fifty percent of people won't vote, and fifty percent don't read newspapers. I hope it's the same fifty percent" and “We should stop going around babbling about how we're the greatest democracy on earth, when we're not even a democracy. We are a sort of militarised republic". [5].

People likewise opposed to lying and war  will be very sorry at the passing of Gore Vidal. However the racist, warmongering, genocidal, and endlessly lying Neocon Americans and Zionist Imperialists are evidently delighted. In 2006 Gore Vidal was among 18 writers , including 3 Nobel Laureates, who signed a letter condemning Apartheid Israel’s  ongoing Palestinian Genocide as: “[Israel’s] long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation.” [6].

A continuing  tragedy is that out of 7 billion people in the world there are so few leading intellectuals like Gore Vidal prepared to stand up for Humanity and declare “zero tolerance for lying” and “thou shalt not kill”.

[1]. Gore Vidal, Wikipedia. 
[2]. Gore Vidal interviewed by Melvyn Bragg on the “South Bank Show”, 2008.
[3]. Gore Vidal, Forward to Israel Shahak “Jewish History, Jewish Religion” (Pluto Press, 1997)..
[4]. Gore Vidal interviewed by Amy Goodman, “Legendary author Gore Vidal on the Bush presidency, history and “United States of Amnesia”,  Democracy Now, 14 May 2008. .
[5]. Gore Vidal quotes: 26 of the best”, Guardian, 1 August 2012.
[6]. 18 writers, “A letter from 18 writers including 3 Nobel laureates”, The Nation, 18 August 2006.

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