Monday, January 15, 2007

From Blackish Shirts to Black Shorts

I don't know why the unobservant Observer continues to irritate me. Perhaps it's because I have a sense of right and wrong. As much as we Lefties regret Nick Cohen's lurch to the right. None of us would welcome Cohen's column being cut in favour of the ridiculous Jasper Gerard. Gerard's peculiar fascination with all things anal was on display yesterday when he "interviewed" the neoconservative nutter Michael Gove.

Gove remarked "My views are closer to some on the left than to, say, Henry Kissinger". Gerard mused: "Such are the curious bedfellows of the war on terror". This absurdity is pervasive: Kissinger is against the so-called "war on terror" and the invasion of Iraq. On December 17 the Sunday Times magazine had a long review of Henry Kissinger's relationship with Dubya. Kissinger, the magazine reported, "has met Cheney every month and the president every other month since he took office." Bob Woodward remarks that this is "more time with the president than almost any outsider ever" and that Kissinger's advice is "very soothing. That's why they talked to him. It's all part of the refusal to face reality".

Presumably George Junior and Cheney invite a notorious war criminal round so as to tell him how wrong he is about everything. Kissinger enjoys this kind of humiliation - and Dubya and Dick have nothing better to do than play practical jokes on Henry K. The very idea that Kissinger supported the invasion of Iraq and played a leading role in pushing for the invasion is anathema. And so a public display of dissent within the blackish shirt movement results, with Gove claiming to be closer to the Left than Kissinger's blackish shirts. Privately, however, Gove probably has a temple devoted to worshipping the neocon's neocon. This ruse has worked on the extraordinarily dimwitted Gerard.

And with the taste of bile still in my mouth I turn to the Observer's book review section. Peter Conrad writes that "PG Wodehouse contentedly reconciled himself to Britain's defeat by the Nazis; he broadcast from Berlin during the war, and adopted American citizenship in 1955 to ensure that he could not be arrested for treason if he returned to Britain (he never did)." Does Conrad know anything about Wodehouse? (Incidentally, not many Lefties are taken by PG; indeed, those Lefties who have an opinion on the great man are generally of Conrad's opinion: Wodehouse the Nazi, Wodehouse the toff who lives in a Wooster-style world of his own, etc, bloody etc.)

Conrad should brood on the case of Lord Haw-Haw if he believes that American citizenship counts for anything. Yet Conrad would have us believe that ten years after the war’s end (for pity’s sake!) the UK was still after Wodehouse. PG was an ass, as he himself admitted. He was amazingly na├»ve and a somewhat of a simpleton. But a Nazi? What tosh. What piffle. What codswallop. Let us never forget that Wodehouse brought us the hilarious fascistic figure of Roderick Spode and his organisation the Black Shorts in 1938, a time when it was not shall we say fashionable to speak out against fascism's fight against the Left. It is my considered opinion that every Leftie should read and revere Wodehouse - they'd also develop an excellent sense of humour, even if I do say so myself. And all of Conrad's nonsense got past Observer literary editor Robert McCrum, Wodehouse's latest biographer.


AN said...

PG Wodehouse was a genius, and as far s I can ake out e was abit naive making nthe broadcast, but he was no Hord haw haw or Ezra pound.
(and well done for poiting out the judiciary murder of aw haw who was conviceted of treason n the basis that he pretendedf to be British!)

Anyway, a more substantial question is Herge. I loved Tintin as a boy, but it is hard to escaoe the conclusin that his book "Shopting Star" was explicit Nazi propaganda about the occupatipon

splinteredsunrise said...

To say nothing of the notorious "Tintin au Congo" or "Tintin au Pays des Bolcheviques"...

And yes, every leftie should read Wodehouse! We can't leave him to the tender mercies of Francis Wheen - tho how Francis reconciles his love of Wodehouse with his muscular cod-Orwell Eustonianism is anyone's guess.

Tawfiq Chahboune said...

Anyone who has read Orwell knows that he would have ripped the Euston Manifesto to shreds. How expected that they stay so very quiet on the arms sale to the Saudi mafia - a sale that will keep them in power; the devastation of Lebanon; the continuing undermining of progressive forces in South America; the support for "moderate" (i.e despotic) regimes like, er, Algeria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia; the complete disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan; and the upping of the ante on Iran.
All of the above is "progress" in the eyes of the Euston Manifesto types.

It always amuses me when they claim to have the backing of progressives and the Left in the Muslim world. Nearly every section of the broad progressive movement in the Muslim world denounced the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. If you want to help the progressives in the Arab and Muslim world, who are battling the most awful oppression, the least we can do is to back them. I back them; the Euston Manifestas do not but claim they do.

Has Wheen, like Cohen and Geras and Hitchens, gone so far down the neocon road that he can't turn back? I don't know. I very much hope not. Wheen's politics are a great cause of consternation for his fans, of which I am one, but he remains one of the very few writers who is always worth reading (as is Cohen). Geras, for instance, having witnessed the catastrophe in Iraq unfold, now says that he would not have been a cheerleader for the invasion of Iraq. That's progress of sorts - I guess. I look forward to Cohen's book "What's Left". I imagine it'll be a book-length version of the Euston Manifesto, which should make for fun reading. Curiously, Cohen has stopped banging the drums of war recently. Perhaps he's kept it for the book.