Saturday, June 25, 2005

"Get Out, You Damned"

According to Al Jazeera, a novel that Saddam Hussein is said to have "finished writing . . . a month before the U.S. occupation toppled his regime in April 2003" will be published in Jordan next week:
Get Our, You DamnedJordan's independent Al-Arab Al-Yawm newspaper said it had already received a copy of the Arabic-language book titled "Ekhroj minha ya mal'un", which can be translated into "Damned one, get out of here".

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Al-Arab Al-Yawm said that English and French copies of the novel are to be published later as well.

"Get Out, You Damned” tackles the life of a man called Haskeel who moves from his hometown to a city, where he starts making conspiracies to oust the local chief. At the end of the novel the chief's daughter, succeeds in kicking Haskeel out of the city with the help of a knight. ("Saddam’s 'Get Out, You Damned' Novel Out Next Week," Al Jazeera, 23 Jun. 2005)
Sounds like a potboiler, but I'm struck by the fact that in Iraq even a tyrant, who could control the masses through fear, felt he needed to show them that he was cultured enough to write novels (Get Out, You Damned is Hussein's fourth novel).

Can you imagine the current POTUS reading a novel, let alone writing one? Lack of cultural pretensions, however, is an asset in American politics. Or at least a carefully cultivated appearance of the lack is. Recently, it was revealed that John F. Kerry's grade (a cumulative 76) at Yale had been worse than George W. Bush's (77) (Michael Kranish, "Yale Grades Portray Kerry as a Lackluster Student," Boston Globe, 7 Jun. 2005) -- much to the surprise of both Democrats and Republicans. How Bush managed to come off as much less intellectual than Kerry and why Kerry failed to leak his transcript early in his campaign are mysteries.

Of course, both men's grades say nothing about their intelligence. Rather, they say everything about their privilege: they both came from such wealthy and well-connected families that they felt they could settle for gentlemen's Cs and still aspire to the highest office in the nation, unlike a son of a poor family in Iraq who yearned for cultural capital as well as political and economic power.

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