Dear friends and readers,
For a long time I was a subscriber to the Village Voice so that I should not miss Alexander Cockburn’s columns. I didn’t worry about him the way I have his heroic brother, Patrick (who has spent years wandering around the Middle East reporting what actually occurs and staying alive despite his blue eyes, so I know he must be recognized by many as a true friend), and be relieved when I saw a new column (an example of a typical column), but I was aware Alexander’d been around for a long time and yesterday when I read he had died of cancer, was not surprised. Today there have been many obituaries, columns, blogs honoring him, his writing, his views, his courage, his integrity, his career.
I probably can’t add to what has been said: I can qualify though. Repeatedly I keep coming across the assertion this or that writer didn’t agree with Cockburn on many issues, e.g., Jesse Walker. Why this need to distance oneself? Even Anthony Gregory feels this need to qualify, though at least not on grounds Cockburn was too much a man of the left. I admit in late years (in the Progressive Populist for example), sometimes Cockburn’s rhetoric seemed to turn him into yet another overly-fierce, reductively distrustful voice. I put that down to the increase of not just reactionary rhetoric but shameless buying and selling, killing, (in effect) lawless imprisonment, legislation which increases homelessness, unemployment, the destruction of middle class jobs, job security, any social safety nets to the extent that thousands and thousands are now dependent on food stamps to keep from starvation. Now we have the threat that the small help Obama’s Affordable Healthcare bill will offer people will not only be repealed, but only Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Cockburn’s language, stances, and jokes register this.
So, in his honor, I copy and paste one of his parodies that Jim found on a blog called Blood and Treasure. Tonight I have in mind especially anyone who talks of balance in seeking effective gun control legislation after the blood bath in Aurora at midnight at the first screening of a new stunt-man violent move, The Dark Knight:
Why Eat Human Flesh, transcribed from the McNeil-Lehrer report:
NEIL: Good evening. Reports from the Donner Pass indicate that survivors fed upon their companions. Tonight, should cannibalism be regulated? Jim?
LEHRER: Robin, the debate pits two diametrically opposed sides against each other: the Human Meat-eaters Association, who favor a free market in human flesh, and their regulatory opponents in Congress and the consumer movement. Robin?
MACNEIL: Mr. Tooth, why eat human flesh?
TOOTH: Robin, it is full of protein and delicious too. Without human meat, our pioneers would be unable to explore the West properly. This would present an inviting opportunity to the French, who menace our pioneer routes from the north.
MACNEIL: Thank you. Jim?
LEHRER: Now for another view of cannibalism. Bertram Brussell-Sprout is leading the fight to control the eating of animal fats and meats. Mr. Sprout, would you include human flesh in this proposed regulation?
SPROUT: Most certainly, Jim. Our studies show that some human flesh available for sale to the public is maggot-ridden, improperly cut, and often incorrectly graded. We think the public should be protected from such abuses.
I can also add an insightful informative interview of Cockburn by Amy Goodman.
And here is Counterpunch.
He will be missed. We need many more people like him.
An appropriate poem — by Dylan Thomas:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light …