Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Vonnegut Gets Murdoch’d

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Instapundit and the rest of the right-wing nutosphere have already latched onto this idiotic ‘Vonnegut Supports The Terrorists’ meme, so I might as well mention it.

Listen: Vonnegut does not support terrorism. He’s a pacifist, you idiots.

The confusion deliberate misrepresentation is coming from an interview he recently gave to an Australian newspaper (a Murdoch paper, naturally). David Nason in The Australian alleges:

But in discussing his views with The Weekend Australian, Vonnegut said it was “sweet and honourable” to die for what you believe in, and rejected the idea that terrorists were motivated by twisted religious beliefs.

As MetaFilter explains at length, for starters the writer of the hit piece didn’t realize Vonnegut was quoting a well-known antiwar poem:

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori — it is sweet and right to die for one’s country. That’s the old lie. Get it? And the longer interview makes it perfectly clear that this is Vonnegut’s intended meaning:

There’s a long pause before Vonnegut speaks again: “It is sweet and noble – sweet and honourable I guess it is – to die for what you believe in.”

For an encore, the writer goes out of his way to misrepresent Vonnegut on basically everything and takes him at his word when he’s quite obviously playing around. (Again, compare the newswire piece to the longer interview and see for yourself; even Nason recognizes that Vonnegut’s amusing himself and not actually defending suicide bombers.) A person wouldn’t have to have actually read one of Vonnegut’s books to get this distinction; just having ever heard of Kurt Vonnegut ought to have been sufficient.

He’s a black humorist for Christ’s sake. What do you think black humor is?

Finally Nason just accuses Vonnegut of suffering from dementia. All in all it’s a real home run for journalism.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 22, 2005 at 8:35 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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