You might remember “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” the fine movie from almost a quarter century ago about a group of English yuppies who set their lives’ clocks to the chimes of wedding bells and, alas, the inevitable funeral, a scene memorable for John Hannah’s recitation of W.H. Auden’s “Funeral Blues”:
This being 2017, the world has been turned upside down. In the past couple of weeks we’ve had four funerals and a wedding. Each tells a story about what we’ve become. Honorable is the least of it.
On May 30th, some 80 people were killed in a terrorist bombing in Kabul. It was barely mentioned on the evening news shows, never mentioned by President Trump, who was too busy inventing the word covefefe, and forgotten the next day. So it goes when Muslims or people with darker skins are killed, whatever the numbers. If not grief and mourning, the bombing might have at least elicited some strategic reflection. We’ve been at war in Afghanistan for 16 years. It’s by far the longest conflict in American history. 3,560 American soldiers and contractors have been killed there. We’ve spent upwards of $1 trillion so far, by conservative estimates, a lot more when contingencies and costs of veteran care are added in. We’ve lost plenty, gained nothing. Yet Trump is planning another “surge.” To what end? Covefefe.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
The June 3 terrorist attack in London resulted in eight deaths. The clocks did stop for that one. Shock, mourning, sympathy, vows of revenge. The works. The victims were white, Christian, English-speaking. The now-beleaguered Prime Minister Theresa May, a female version of our own invertebrate Paul Ryan, wasted no time calling for a civil liberties crackdown, or rather a further crackdown, given that England is one of the most policed and unfree nations in the West: a camera on every street, detention without trial, warrantless searches. That’s a British norm, thanks to previous terrorist attacks dating back to the days of the IRA. Clearly, waging war on one’s citizens doesn’t work, but that’s no reason to end insanity. Just look at our own war on drugs. At least the English, unlike their American cousins, know a fraud when they see one: May, after her unwittingly prophetic “enough is enough,” lost her last election.
Then came Monday. Five English-speaking Christians were mowed down in Orlando in one of the worst mass killings of the year in the country, but again, barely a peep. Why? Because the attacker was not a so-called terrorist. Because he was no Muslim. His victims were killed as would be any victims of terrorism, the means the killer used were as terrorizing as could be, but he was just a disgruntled warehouse worker. He was white, probably Christian, so it doesn’t count. Nothing to see here. But please, this being Florida, keep buying guns. Since neither official Washington nor Rick Scott’s office felt it necessary to eulogize the victims of this latest Orlando mass killing, so near to the first-year anniversary of the previous one, Auden will have to do.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
Then we had the terrorist attack in Tehran. Seventeen killed there. Not to worry: they were all Muslims, and that particularly low form of life, if we’re to apply the Eric Trump standard, curiously similar to Salafist Sunnis’ standard, of what is subhuman: Shiites. (Admittedly, Eric was referring to Democrats, but they are America’s Shiites for now.) As with Kabul, London and Orlando, Trump the elder, if such a word could be applied to the infantilized-in-chief, couldn’t bring himself to show any kind of sympathy, finding it easier to blame the victims, as he did in the London attack. Paris is turning off the lights on the Eiffel Tower in sympathy for Teheran, but Tump is taking to the golf course. Nothing surprising there, until you get to the wedding.
That would be the nuptials between Trump and his Saudi concubines, the source, the sugar daddies the spiritual fount and heart of darkness, in Wahhabism, of the 9/11 terrorists, of the Taliban, of al-Qaeda, and now of ISIS. The Saudi regime will have you believe that its princes themselves aren’t the financiers of terror, that it’s society’s rich private Wahhabis and their Salafist mercenaries who are spreading the hate. Strictly speaking they’re right. The regime exists only because of its arrangement with Wahhabi clerics going back to the founding of the House of Saud, a simple arrangement, really: clerics were granted free reign over policing Islam in exchange for money—and legitimizing the regime while leaving it alone to politick as it wishes. But it’s the world’s most lethal co-dependent relationship, an unholy alliance of plausible-deniability. One cannot live without the other. There is no separation. And there’s no mystery as to where the money comes from. It’s oil. It’s Saudi Aramco, the world’s richest company, wholly owned by the House of Saud. ISIS’s money may be laundered the way bin Laden’s was, but you can’t launder bloodstains’ DNA. It’s still the House of Saud’s. That’s why Saudi Arabia is one of the most repugnant, most regressive, most terrorist-sponsoring nations on the planet. It is ISIS in power.
And that’s the nation Trump chose to declare the world’s best hope to defeat terrorism.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
Not as long as our own polygamous president and his honeymoon suite in the Kremlin marries into the House of Saud. Like I said: a world upside down. And that’s just the last two weeks. Onto the next funerals.