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Vonnegut Praises Suicide Bombers
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(Via James Lileks), who starts out:

I never "got into" Vonnegut, or "dug" his work like my "buds," several of whom pronounced his work as "intense," so I am not particularly bothered to find he applauds suicide bombers, and thinks they experience "an amazing high."

Well, I actually did "get into" Vonnegut. He's one of my favorite writers. I wouldn't call his stuff "intense"'s breezy, jovial even, on the surface, but it's very dark stuff underneath. And typically its very, very good.

But I don't know if I was actually surprised at hearing this news. I'd heard stories of Vonnegut ratcheting up his denigration (criticism almost implies something constructive) of the Bush administration and its policies.

And now he's got a new book out (which is odd, by the way...he said he was done with writing a while back, but by jeezum, he must have just been driven out of retirement by the horrors of the current presidency). It's called A Man Without a Country (catchy, huh?). Sorry, I think I'll pass.

But back to the statements at hand.

But in discussing his views with The Weekend Australian, Vonnegut said it was "sweet and honourable" to die for what you believe in, and rejected the idea that terrorists were motivated by twisted religious beliefs.

Just reflect for a moment on describing someone who straps on a bomb, but also helpfully straps on a packet filled with steel ball bearings to assist in the shredding of innocent men, women, and children going about their business in a Jordanian hotel. Vonnegut's works are filled with irony. Oh how I wish he were being ironic here.

I'm reminded of Christopher Hitchens' recent essay on "anti-war" activists in which he says:

It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as "antiwar" when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side. Was there a single placard saying, "No to Jihad"? Of course not. Or a single placard saying, "Yes to Kurdish self-determination" or "We support Afghan women's struggle"? Don't make me laugh. And this in a week when Afghans went back to the polls, and when Iraqis were preparing to do so, under a hail of fire from those who blow up mosques and U.N. buildings, behead aid workers and journalists, proclaim fatwahs against the wrong kind of Muslim, and utter hysterical diatribes against Jews and Hindus.

As the Australian story points out:

Vonnegut's comments are sharply at odds with his reputation as a peace activist and his distinguished war service.

Hmm...yeah, you might think that someone who filled so many pages with polemics against the horrors of war would wince in disgust at slaughter, no matter who was doing the slaughtering.

Instead, he finds the work of al Qaeda in Iraq charming. Isn't that sweet?

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