If you were looking for weirdness, you wouldn’t need any drugs today. Just switch on the news and let the weirdness wash over you but never fear that it might run out. There’s plenty of serious weirdness in the world this last 24 hours or so, and for sheer lunatic, ignorant madness, it would be hard to beat Rick Perry, addressing an audience in South Carolina.
Turkey, according to Rick, is ruled by Islamic terrorists.
Let’s give him some credit before we go any further, or perhaps the credit should go to his election team, who explained to him that Turkey is a country not a big chicken. His redneck audience is probably still scratching its head. That boy talkin’ ’bout a turkey-shoot?
Perry is talking about an ally of the United States, a Nato member and a country with a secular government which has experienced its share of religious fundamentalist violence. Now, admittedly, there is the unresolved matter of the Armenian genocide which Turkey still denies, but there is also the matter of the Kurds, so abominably treated by successive Turkish governments. However, the oppression of minorities isn’t something that worries this presidential candidate.
His reason for saying that Islamic terrorists run Turkey? They protested about the piracy of the Mavi Marmara and murder of Turkish citizens by Israeli military personnel.
I protested vehemently about the attack on the convoy, which, I suppose makes me the world’s first atheist Islamic terrorist.
Somehow, in Perry’s demented vision, the Gaza flotilla transmutes into the anti-Israel flotilla, which strikes me as doubly ironic considering the bunch of drooling rednecks he was addressing. This constituency has a history of Klan activity and they weren’t averse to stringing up the odd Jew along with the uppity blacks, but of course, I forget. This is American Republican politics in all its ill-informed, overweight, burger-munching glory.
In the land of the sound-bite, the idiot is King.
But if you think that’s insane, flip on over to the conversation between the harbourmaster in Isola del Giglio and the captain of the Costa Concordia, Francesco Schettino.
Get back on board! orders the port commander. That’s an order!
It seems I was too kind to Francesco in an earlier post. The reports now are suggesting that he deliberately ran the ship close to the shore so that a crew member could wave to someone on land, and it also seems that this is a fairly common practice. Imagine that. You’re in command of a giant ship that cost the guts of a billion euros to build. It has thousands of people on board, but you decide to scoot it past an island like you’re driving a Vespa. Ciao, Signorina!
After crashing his enormous ship onto a rock, what did Schettino do?
Well, obviously, he did what any professional ship’s captain would, didn’t he?
No. He issued the order to abandon ship and then he ran for it. Women and children first? Well, yes, but not before Il Capitano.
Now look. I don’t know about you, but I always imagined that the people in charge of ships, from the smallest river-steamer to the mightiest ocean liner, are highly-trained experts. I wouldn’t have assumed for even a second that the man in charge of a magnificent vessel like the Costa Concordia would be anything other than a consummate professional, but instead, what do I hear in the recorded conversations broadcast tonight? A bumbling coward doing his best to bullshit a real professional, the Giglio harbour-master, who can’t believe his ears as he instructs the craven fool to get back on board his vessel and behave as a captain should.
Weird. Weird. Weird.
Where can we turn for a dose of anti-weirdness? Well, what about turning to the great Muhammad Ali, whose 70th birthday is today and who has more dignity in his trembling hand than either Schettino or Perry have in their entire bodies.
Remember that interview Ali gave with Parkinson?
Why do you box in the Deep South? They all hate you.
Yeah. They’re sayin’ whup that nigger, whup that nigger.
And I’m sayin ‘ ten thousand twenty thousand
Whup that nigger
Forty thousand fifty thousand
Whup that nigger
He is one clever man, but I wonder what Rick Perry’s South Carolina Jew-hatin’, Jew-lovin’, nigger-hatin’ conflicted Klansmen really think about this thoughtful man who refused to kill people in South-East Asia on the very solid grounds that they never did anything to him? Let’s not forget that Ali sacrificed his entire career to defend a principle, and as a consequence, the world never saw him at his peak, which is an astonishing thought. If the artistry he displayed was only a preview, what might he have shown us if the US government hadn’t chosen to prove a point by drafting this young black man?
His refusal to enlist wasn’t cowardice. The likelihood is that Ali would never have seen action, and he was smart enough to know that. They’d have put him on the Elvis circuit, and he would have been required to endorse a war he considered immoral.
He could have gone along with the lie, as so many other celebrities did, but he chose not to, and that will stand to his eternal credit.
Thank you Muhammad Ali. Reliable as always. Just when I thought we were going to sink in a sea of weirdness, I’m rescued by a man of principle.