Thursday, December 08, 2005

A voice here rarely heard

The text of Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize speech, presented by video last night in Stockholm, is available here. (Courtesy of the Guardian.)

As a U.S. citizen, it is difficult reading. It is also quite possibly essential. The difficulty of being a U.S. citizen, a member of the world's most powerful democracy, is that we cannot deny responsibility for a government that increasingly wishes to inflict itself on the rest of the world. Our current administration may be a particularly sickening embodiment of this tendency, but the it is a taint which touches every administration, Republican or Democratic, of the past fifty years.

And through them, it touches us. The government is mine, whether I voted for the other guy or not. If these things are allowed to continue it is through my support, because I allow the security and prosperity of my family and my children to blind me to the poverty and death inflicted in my name.

As a citizen, it is a matter of an immoral and unsupportable government. As an artist, I face the possibility that my language will become an immoral agent of its own. I love English, but if my literature does not begin to express its outrage and the possibility that the world could exist in some other fashion, I will be guilty of an unforgivable abdication.

For a political philosophy that claims a monopoly on absolute truth, our president seems to have forgotten a few things. Torture is unforgivable. Our comfort cannot justify the deaths of innocents at our hands. It is time that we count the Iraqi dead. It is time that we demand economic opportunity for all, at home and abroad. It is time to demand the rule of law, on individuals and states. It is time to take a seat in the international community as an equal, not a demagogue.

I have no desire to renounce my citizenship, even though I cannot deny that the idea has at times held appeal. I must instead recognize my obligation, and begin to work to fulfill it, in any way I can.

As I deflate, and consider the limitations of my pen and my keyboard, I can at least mention that Pinter's Paris Review interview from 1966 is available here.

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