While I am clearly one of those nervous wrecks and wusses that Mark Latham has recently railed against, as I should be attending to the Rugby League Grand Final at this moment, I have nonetheless quite unashamedly been listening instead to Harold Pinter and Romana Koval on Radio National. (Sirdan is doing his bit for manhood though, as he actually has gone to the Grand Final, and Pinter is at least a noted Cricket tragic, about the only thing he shares with his near-contemporary John Howard.)
There was plenty of strong stuff, as you will see in the transcript linked above, and a wonderful reading from The Birthday Party. Here is a short taste.
Audience Question 7: Mr Pinter. I came from Iraq. In the medical school, all over the wall there were notices to the students, ‘Don’t forget to ask why’.
Harold Pinter: When was this?
In the medical school in Baghdad.
Harold Pinter: When?
In the early 50s. And the medical school in Baghdad was the same style as the medical school in Edinburgh. My professors were all British. Now I come back to terrorism and suicide bombings. Why, if we ask the question why they are doing it, as if we are committing crime. I remember a journalist asked President Bush why they are doing it, once, he said, ‘They are jealous of us.’ What is your view about that, why the media and the people do not ask the question why they are doing it?
Harold Pinter: Well I think I’ve already tried to say that these desperate acts of suicide bombing, all over, are essentially in my view acts of retaliation against western domination of the world. And these are terrible facts, there’s no question about that. They’re horrific facts. Nevertheless, I think they are logical and inevitable. And until we take a totally different view of our political responsibility, and I would particularly like to remark upon Israel’s position in this now. Until Israel takes a totally different attitude to the Palestinian state of affairs, we’re going to get nowhere. Because it reverberates, rebounds, and is never-ending. And Israel has a great responsibility, as, of course, the United States, which arms Israel to the hilt, also has. So the ‘why’ comes out of…it would be silly to put all blame either the United States or Israel, or Britain for everything, for all the terrible things that are happening every day of the damned week throughout the week. But I think we have far, far more responsibility than we’ve actually accepted and recognised. And until we see that military force gets nobody anywhere—I’m talking about that, the iron fist—it doesn’t work. And what it does is bring about what you’ve just been talking about. [Applause]