Saturday, May 21, 2005


Ok, I had to comment on this. I had the news on in the background while I was sorting papers and I hear Laura Bush, who is currently visiting the Middle East as the American champion of women's writes, saying that "freedom, especially freedom for women, is more than the absence of oppression. It's the right to speak and vote and worship freely. Human rights requires the rights of women."
I take no issue with this so far, but the punch line is the anchor woman's closing comment, which followed this tasty little sound bite - women are allowed to vote in all of the countries of the middle east, which hold elections, with the exception of Saudi Arabia. Now, I don't mean to take cheap political shots when I remind my reader of the recent pictures of Laura's hubby walking hand in hand with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

Do you imagine they were discussing the voting writes of Saudi women? Perhaps they were comparing the ambiguity of the word "citizen" in English and in Arabic?

I had coincidentally been re-reading Harry Frankfurts essay "On Bullshit" just moments before. Originally published in 1988 as part of a collection, this philosophical essay has recently been reprinted by Princeton University Press and has been making the a little stir in the media read as a statement on contemporary political rhetoric. Bullshit, sayd Frankfurt, differs from the lie in that its main intent is not the representation or, rather, misrepresentation of reality, but rather the information it communicates about the speaker. Bullshit concerns the presentation of the self through particular ways of presenting reality. Laura Bush's speech at the World Economic Forum were bullshit. This is echoed in much of the media coverage of Lady Bush's visit, which is often cast as damage control, an attempt to recast America's image in the world.

On another topic, the Bay Area news also keeps playing Warren Beatty's speech at the commencement ceremony for the School of Public Policy here at Berkeley. They particularly like his comments criticizing our pumped up governor Arnold. Two actors squaring off on politcs in the media spotlight. Man, I'm going to miss California.
Political theorist Benjamin Barber and columnist Maureen Down were also here this week. They haven't been in the news.


At 6:15 PM, Blogger Radical Rag 1 said...

Hmmmm...interesting, hope you don't mind if I quote you on my blog;)
(I too am reading "On Bullshit", good book-er-essay-er-whatever.


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