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‘This Place Is Broken’: The Gore Vidal Interview Part II
Posted on Mar 8, 2006
By Sheerly Avni
Last week, Gore Vidal spoke with Truthdig’s Sheerly Avni about a range of topics, including this year’s Oscar-nominated films (see Part I). He also commented at length about many of the real-life concerns these films attempt to address, including terrorism, war, propaganda movies and, finally, the troubling relationship between the U.S. government and the American entertainment industry, which Vidal refers to as White House East and White House West.
Sheerly Avni: We were talking about “Munich,” “Paradise Now” earlier, and how both of those films faced the criticism that they were too soft on terrorists.
Gore Vidal: I wish the word terrorist would be erased from our language. All meaning has been pumped out of it by our rulers and their media, who wish to demonize everyone or -thing they dislike starting with Us The People. Certainly under the name of fighting terrorism we are conducting wars with everyone on Earth, shifting feverishly from old loyal employees like Noriega and Saddam Hussein to new servants to be abandoned in due course. We are treacherous friends. Meanwhile, thanks to all this maneuvering, more and more of our freedoms are being erased.
So you would be comfortable using the word fascism to describe the direction we are heading in now?
No, most uncomfortable. After all, the original fascist Mussolini could never explain just what fascism was in his native Italy. Let’s say arbitrary, dictatorial government that says any law may be ignored if the leadership dislikes it in the interest of fighting terrorism, which is… whatever the controlled media tells us that morning. Although the 9/11 bombings released all sorts of fascistic measures, as I listed in my “President Jonah” piece, the detonating trigger was not 9/11 but Oklahoma City. When the federal building was struck, the Clinton administration came up with an anti-terrorist Bill of Wrongs which is still at the heart of the USA Patriot Act and other curtailments of our liberties. And it is also clear that there is no terrorist army supported by an evil empire out there. Angry Muslims who have nothing to lose will always do some suicide bombing, to blow up our buildings and so forth, but with decent intelligence and a moderately competent government we can anticipate them and thwart them.
If I had been in charge of things at the time of 9/11, I would have called the police. You don’t declare war on an innocent - two innocent countries - Afghanistan and Iraq that had nothing to do with September 11th. A bunch of crazy religious zealots from Saudi Arabia did it all, and I would go to Interpol. I’d say, “Arrest these guys”—out of religious frenzy, they’ve just blown up a part of New York, a part of Washington. Arrest them, try them, do whatever you like with them, but get them.
Unfortunately we were waiting for an excuse to attack Iraq and Afghanistan, and establish American bases up and down the Middle East, for all sorts of nefarious purposes, starting, dare I say?, with oil.
How far back does this “waiting” go?
The early terrorism legislation was cooked up by Janet Reno and the Justice Department under Clinton: as usual, a lone crazed killer, T. McVeigh, was found guilty. But it’s my impression that there was a considerable conspiracy, and the FBI didn’t follow up. One newspaper editor, Joel Dyer, got hold of all the FBI interrogations of suspects who might have been involved in the blowing up of the federal building in Oklahoma City. They didn’t follow up on one of them.
I remember reading that you said it would have taken nine people to load the bomb in the truck.
Yes, this skinny little guy could not have loaded it, much less - have you ever driven as much explosives as he is supposed to have driven? A forensic expert in Ireland who had examined a lot of explosions found that the IRA was constantly blowing themselves up, they would put the bomb on a board across their lap, and then drive the car across bumpy roads, and the car would often explode. And all that would be left of the drivers would be the genitals, because they’d been covered by a board.
Everything else blew up, except that treasured part, which would be in the dust under the cars. It was a grimly funny report.
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