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Blair, death and Dignity
Who, one wonders, is really in the business of death?

March 14, 2005

8 August 2004

It is a hot day in England. Phil and I have been in the garden reading papers. One of the stories was about a funeral service company that had lost money due to a drop in the death rate in the UK in the past six months. But the company was confident this was merely a ‘quirk’ and that the death rate soon would pick up.

Dignity, the firm in question, specializes in horse-drawn carriage treatment. In life this is reserved for royals but in death for anyone with a few bob to spare. The horses in question are jet black, rather pretty creatures, their seats draped with ornate crosses on velvet, with purple outlines. Black plumes sway above their heads as they clip-clop to the cemetery, delivering another body to the earth and “happy” customer to the company.

But who, one wonders, is really in the business of death -- the people who own these horses or Tony Blair and his government? Two weeks ago a member of the British intelligence services was fired after having told a documentary that he had balked at the idea of Iraq being an imminent threat to Britain when Blair had made WMD his battle cry. Some weeks ago Piers Morgan, editor of the Daily Mirror, the vociferously anti-war tabloid, was dismissed for publishing what turned out to be fake pictures of torture victims in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary who this time last year was close to losing his job over the death of Dr David Kelly, has been in Gibraltar to mark 300 years of British rule -- a perceived snub to Spain for pulling its troops out of Iraq. The people of Britain have failed to claim a single scalp from their deceptive government. The gangsters still strut, smiling.

Harold Pinter referred to the US-led assault on Iraqis as a ‘gangster war’ last year on BBC radio. He published a book of poetry on the war at that time which was criticized, by many in both the anti- and pro-war camps, for not being ‘poetic’ enough -- his style was accused of being too candid. This was a misplaced criticism as poetical devices were daily being used by ministers to twist truth. What was “weapons of mass destruction” if not a metaphor for oil?

Pinter was being frank where politicians were beating around the bush -- what poetry usually does. How many times did we have to hear statements to the tune of: “There is no evidence to suggest that British forces were involved in bombing of X civilian district and until the bureaucratic body of nobodies delivers its reports.” Anyway, I mention this as Pinter received the Wilfred Owen prize for war poetry last week, a rare instance of truth managing to out. Even today Saddam and Iraq are talked of as if they were a single entity. Saddam had to go, but Iraqis did not have to be bombed.

Meanwhile the British National Party -- which has far more claim to being Nazi than national -- is reeling after being infiltrated by a BBC journalist who caught its führer Nick Griffin telling a group of fascists in a pub that rape is and always has been integral to the spread of Islam.

While reporting this, however, no newspaper is asking how it is that a political leader who insults Muslims has his party’s bank accounts frozen and is subjected to an investigation, but one whose policies result in the killing ten to thirteen thousand Muslims gets a slap on the wrist from an obedient judge. Perhaps the British government should offer one of its prized Iraq contracts to Dignity, the funeral company, so that every Iraqi killed by coalition forces from now is escorted to the grave by its horses. That way we could count the dead and it would be good for business.

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Peyvand Khorsandi



Book of the day

My Uncle, Napoleon
A Comic Novel
by Iraj Pezeshkad
translated by Dick Davis

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