Friday, September 29, 2006


According to string theory, we live in one of several parallel universes, oblivious to the others.  Even without esoteric mathematics, that's increasingly true.  Thanks to a permanently blind-sided media and a self-censoring opposition, Americans, in particular, still don't know why they're being attacked on all sides

The democratically elected president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, tells the United Nations General Assembly that they've seen the devil, in the person of the president of the United States, and Democrats from Bill Clinton to Charlie Rangel chide him.  I'm sorry I didn't catch the name of the late-night WBAI commentator who reminded Rangel that it was President Bush who brought religion into the debate by declaring that certain countries are part of an 'axis of Evil"....  Occupying a more lofty position than the NY State Representative, Bill Clinton could allow himself to say he wished Chavez "hadn't done it".  You could tell he agreed with the substance if not the form, but unlike those with privileged acces, the average voter didn't get to hear the rest of Chavez' speech, so he probably didn't catch that nuance.

Mr. Average Voter was privvy to the complaints of commentators that New York has to play host to people who insult the President, but who in the media linked this  to Chavez' suggestion that the General Asssembly meet in another country?   Reports of Chavez' foreign minister being detained at JFK like a terror suspect were justified by the fact that he arrived late for a flight and wanted to purchase a ticket with cash, as if this harassment had nothing to do with Chavez having left his silk gloves behind.  That was on the level of Bostonians wanting to get rid of the Citgo sign that has been a familiar landmark in that city for fifty years because it belongs to the Venezuelan oil company (the one that offers low-cost heating oil to poor Northeasterners...).

At least Clinton blew new life into CNN when he teamed up with Christian Amanpour to air a debate about why the world is fighting over God, with the participation of greater and lesser public figures from various parts of the world.  The contrast between Jordan's youthful Princess Rania and Israel's perennial statesman, Simon Peres, who could hardly ungrit his teeth, suggests that tomorrow's Sabras will be Palestinian.

The September 11th New Yorker provided a really useful tribute to nine-eleven: George Packer introduced Mahmoud Taha, a Sudanese who was already theorizing about a modern Islam in the sixties.  One regret: Packer fails to tell us how Sudan ended up perpetrating genocide in Darfur.  In that same New Yorker, Lawrence Wright reveals that  "for the new theorists of jihad, Al Queda is just the beginning".  What I retain from his long and  detailed essay is that, like the Communists, who believed changing the relations of production would result in the end of inequality, Islamists believe that an Islamic caliphate will "bring falseness to an end" leading the human race to "the shore of safety and the oasis of happiness."

Toping off this remarkable issue is the portrait of a major Al Queda informer by Jane Mayer.  He confirms that inequality is the real cause of modern jihad.  Even Bin Laden, who never lacked for anything, declared in the early nineties that: "We cannot let the American army stay in the Gulf are and take our oil, take our money..."

Just as in real estate the three things that count are location,location, location, it's safe to bet that the political affairs of all parallel worlds evolve around equality, equality, equality.   The devil is in the details.

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