Tuesday, April 15, 2008

William Blum: “Goodness has nothing to do with it”

International Socialist Review, ISR Issue 58, March-April 2008

A speech by WILLIAM BLUM, author of Rogue State

UP UNTIL recently I had been in effect banned from speaking on college campuses. This ban lasted for a full year, ever since January of last year when Osama bin Laden, in one of his audiotapes, recommended that Americans read my book Rogue State. With this announcement I was swamped by the media—CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBC, and many others. People who called in to the TV and radio programs I was on attacked me as if I and bin Laden were friends and I had asked him for the endorsement. I had to point out that he and I were not really friends; in fact, I hadn’t spoken to him in more than a month.

Interviewers pressed me to repudiate bin Laden’s support. Wolf Blitzer on CNN was genuinely annoyed with me because I wouldn’t do so.

My reply was this: “There are two elements involved here: On the one hand, I totally despise any kind of religious fundamentalism and the societies spawned by such, like the Taliban in Afghanistan. On the other hand, I’m a member of a movement that has the very ambitious goal of slowing down, if not stopping, the American Empire, to keep it from continuing to go around the world doing things like bombings, invasions, overthrowing governments, and torture. To have any success, we need to reach the American people with our message. And to reach the American people we need to have access to the mass media. What has just happened has given me the opportunity to reach millions of people I would otherwise never reach. Why should I not be glad about that? How could I let such an opportunity go to waste?”

Continued . . .

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