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May 23, 2004 6:12 pm

A Newly Discovered Canonical Prophet ...

Gabriel Ash at translates a recently discovered text by a canonical prophet. His words sound prophetic enough:
And the Lord said: who is this nation, whose good fortunes are surpassed only by its hypocrisy? Who is this nation, that preaches the world my name, whose deeds besmirch my name to the world? Who is this nation, whose coins bear my name and whose actions are stamped with the name of Caesar?

Who is this nation, whose poor are sheltered in dungeons and whose wicked are exalted in churches? Who is this nation, whose soldiers can see in the dark and whose leaders are blind in broad daylight?

Who is this nation, that joins house to house, that lays field to field, till there be no place, so that it be placed alone in the midst of the earth? Who is this nation, that would not walk behind me but fancy I walk ahead of it?

Here is a translation of the entire text. Thanks to wood s lot for the tip.

Recommended additional reading: Slavoj Zizek, "What Rumsfeld Doesn't Know That He Knows About Abu Ghraib" at In These Times. Thanks to Amish Lovelock at The Weblog for the tip.
Susan Sontag, "Regarding the Torture of Others", New York Times Magazine. Thanks to Steve Horwitz at Liberty & Power for the tip.

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Richard Henry Morgan - 5/24/2004

You're right, Ralph, I can't know that the internal review processes would have continued apace -- any more than Zizek can know they wouldn't have. And we don't know but that a few may be left holding the bag, any more than we can know that but a few are guilty. I did get a kick out of watching a civilian attorney, representing one of the accused, appearing on TV the other day, pointing his finger at everybody but the accused. His civilian world skills as a diffuser of responsibility, and as an attempt to try the case in public, will prove to be an incredibly fruitless venture. The accused are going down, whether they got orders or not, and the jury will have no sympathey for their attempts to duck responsibility.\

There is much I have sympathy for in Sontag's essay -- I never thought I'd ever write those words. And yes, I haven't seen an undergrad paper lately, I just remember my own covered in red (and the red did not refer to grammar).

Ralph E. Luker - 5/24/2004

Now, Richard, if you believe that last sentence of yours, you simply haven't seen an undergraduate essay lately. Zizek at least has the rules of grammar under his belt. And, in fact, you do not know that the internal review processes would have proceeded apace had it not been for the certainty that the evidence itself would become public knowledge. And, in fact, we don't know but that a few footsoldiers are going to be left holding the bag for practices that they thought they were encouraged to do. There's much in Sontag's moralism with which you might have some sympathy.

Richard Henry Morgan - 5/24/2004

This is the sort of breezy fluff one often sees in, say, the Nation or the Guardian.

Zizek says that only the disclosure in the media forced the US to admit the crimes. In fact, Taguba had already submitted his report, the whole matter had already been submitted to CID for criminal investigation, and the command in Iraq had already publicly announced the investigation. He also breezily climbs from Rumsfeld's comment that the first pictures were just the tip of the iceberg, to the conclusion that such practices were widespread. Nor am I aware that the US military's immediate reaction was to claim the soldiers hadn't been instructed in the Geneva Conventions. If this were an undergrad essay, it would be covered in red ink -- which of course is not a barrier to its publication.

Ralph E. Luker - 5/23/2004

We're all looking forward to the exciting news, aren't we?

Adam Kotsko - 5/23/2004

The question here is whether the A. Sullivan's "Sontag Award" will go to Zizek or to Sontag herself.

Ralph E. Luker - 5/23/2004

Exactly. Someone once said that a prophet doesn't foretell; a prophet forthtells the word of the lord.

Jonathan Dresner - 5/23/2004

The test of prophecy, in the Jewish tradition, is not its predictive power, but its demand that we return to righteousness.

Zizek's article is interesting, too, thanks.