Friday, March 24, 2006

A Christmas Carol for NeoCons

Commentary by Martin Kelly
December 29, 2004

It was very late on Christmas Eve, almost midnight, when the bell tolled for George Ebenezer Bush. But as he lay awake, well past his bedtime, the knocking at his door grew louder and louder.

‘Who is there? What fell spirit has come to disturb me?’ he cried out. Then, as the door opened, he saw the ghost.

It was tall and thin, with small round glasses and a goatee beard. Tied to its body were some domestic dustbins, on each of which was scorched the word ‘History’. Around its neck was an anvil on which was written ‘I am the Father of the Red Army’. On its head was perched a sombrero, through which protruded the handle of an ice pick.

Its hands were dripping with blood.

Ebenezer gasped. ‘You are the ghost of Leon Trotsky! What do you want with me?’

‘Tonight’, said Trotsky, ‘you will be visited by three ghosts. They will show you what was, what is and what is to come, so you may know the error of what I taught you’. In a flash, the ghost was gone.

At first Ebenezer was stunned. ‘Ah’, he thought, ‘it is just a lumpy piece of gruel that has disturbed my digestion. Better outsource the cook.’ He slept fitfully, until he heard another knock at the door.

‘Who is there?’ he said. And when it spoke, he knew whose ghost it was, for during his life the ghost had called them the most frightening words in the world.

‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help’.

And Ebenezer knew it was the Ghost of Christmas Past.

He was shown his previous Christmases; that one in Tijuana had been even better than he had remembered! But then he saw the path his life had taken; innocence lost; the gradual hardening of his heart; until he had reached the stage where he had been happy not just to promote, but become finally responsible for, the execution of the politics of neoconservatism. It had all seemed so bold and purposeful once; now, he could see it was all just lies and broken promises….

The Ghost turned to him and said, ‘Ebenezer, you once called yourself a ‘compassionate conservative’. Where is the compassion in your heart now?’

He woke up with a start. ‘What a terrible dream’, he thought. Then came another knock. He was petrified.

‘Who is there?’ he asked.

‘I come so that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth’.

The Ghost of Christmas Present showed him the whole of the great Republic as it prepared for Christmas. He saw it all, from the mountains to the prairies, stockings being hung up in homesteads, childish notes being left under Christmas trees, even in poor homes – there seemed so many of them! As he grew tired, the Ghost took him to a party.

It was high on Fifth Avenue, a gathering of new and old money, the new looking garish and sounding boastful, the old staying quiet, looking ashamed. He could hear one new money boasting, ‘I shaved 5 per cent off operating costs by closing the factory in Cleveland and re-opening in China. Man, I bought a new yacht with that money!’ Another said, ‘Just between us, we wouldn’t be doing half as well as we are if it weren’t for the illegals. They work for next to nothing, they never call in sick and if they cause trouble, like, the INS is just a phone call away.’

Ebenezer felt sick listening to them. But what a third one said chilled his heart.

‘Good old Ebenezer! The lower the dollar goes, the more I’ll make hedging against it! Only in America!’

‘Please’, begged Ebenezer,’ let us leave this place, these people – they disgust me!’

‘Ebenezer’ said the Ghost, very quietly, ‘these are the people you called ‘your base’. And in a second they were gone.

They were standing in a diner in Cleveland, Ohio. The waitress behind the counter looked beat. A young family were in the corner, a mother, father and two small daughters, trying to be happy. It was clearly their Christmas dinner.

‘This man’, said the Ghost, ‘lost his job when that factory owner sent it to China. He voted for you, you know, but he hasn’t been able to find another job since – something about being underskilled.’

The Ghost turned round on him and glared at him in fury. ‘Was it for this, Ebenezer, that your countrymen spilled each others’ blood at Shiloh and Gettysburg? Did I gamble the very future of our Republic - for this?’

Ebenezer woke again, shaking with fear. He waited and waited for the knock.

‘Wh-who is there?’ stumbled Ebenezer.

‘I cannot tell a lie. I am the Ghost of Christmas Future’.

In a second, Ebenezer was whirling through time and space. It lasted but a moment, and Ebenezer found himself far away from home. He was in another country.

It was a dry, hot land, and everything was still. There was no sign of life, until a small, bundled shape emerged from a doorway and moved towards him.

‘What is that?’ said Ebenezer, terrified.

‘Don’t you know, Ebenezer? That is a woman.’

‘But why is she dressed in such heavy clothing? Does she not suffer from the heat?’

‘When you were President, Ebenezer, you invaded Iraq. It was the Iraqis who bore the brunt of the suffering at the time. But you did something to perpetuate their suffering after we Americans finally went home’.

‘What did I do?' said Ebenezer, aghast. ‘This night has taught me that I have sinned, and will do anything to repent, but what did I do?’

The voice of the Ghost was grave. He was tall and stern, his face marked by the cares of having been the first leader of his great nation.

‘You endorsed a constitution for Iraq that included Islamic Sharia law as a source. Because of your actions, the people of Iraq now have no freedom. Their journey has ended in the opposite direction to the one my brothers and I started in 1776 – tell me, Ebenezer, were we more enlightened than you? You live in a great land of plenty, where none need ever want – but did we know more of liberty than you?’

And then Ebenezer saw Sharia justice.

He screamed.

He awoke. It was dawn outside. Ebenezer immediately reformed, becoming the kindest man in the neighbourhood, and they said no man ever enjoyed Christmas more.

God bless us, every one. May you all have a happy and peaceful holiday season.