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Getting it taped
Hysteria sells well in the US; “the gentle, much-maligned torquemada”; Bin Laden’s reading habits; and the importance of thinking globally and acting locally.
Eamonn McCann, 19 Mar 2003
Many commentators have suggested that the advice given last month by US Homeland Security supremo Tom Ridge to the American people to stock up on duct tape indicated that hysteria had begun to set in. Or, alternatively, that the Bush administration was trying deliberately to freak the populace into a state of paranoia in which they’d acquiesce in whatever mad bombing campaign Dubya was determined on next. But I have a different and better explanation.
Ridge’s assurance that duct tape would be effective in sealing windows and doors against poison gas attacks has been derided by all who know anything about chemical and biological weaponry. But that was never the point. The relevant point is that nearly half – 46 percent to be exact – of the duct tape sold in the US is manufactured by an Avon, Ohio, company founded by Jack Kahl.
Kahl describes himself as a “patriotic supporter of the democratic system.” Indeed, he supported US democracy, or at least the Republican Party component of it, to the tune of more than $100,000 in the last presidential election year, 2000.
Son John Kahl, who took over as chief executive when dad stepped down in 2002, told the CNBC network that, “We’re seeing a doubling and tripling of our sales, particularly in certain metro markets and around the coasts and borders.” The Avon plant had “gone to a 24/7 operation, which is about a 40 percent increase” over this time last year, Kahl said.
Company sales of $300 million in 2001were expected to top $500 million in 2003. “Brilliant, our best year ever,” exulted John.
The question is, would the people around Bush be so cynical, crass and opportunist as to take advantage of post-September 11 sensitivities and organise a scare which gave tens of millions of their fellow citizens the heebie-jeebies just to boost the profits of one of their snout-in-the-trough bank-rollers?
Is water wet?
I feel I have been neglecting your reading in recent times. So let’s play catch-up. Here are three just-published volumes which I can thoroughly recommend.
1. Popes Against Modern Errors by Dr. Raphael Poe – “Here, in one handy volume, are the best and most famous of papal denunciations of the ideas associated with the French Revolution which launched a host of religious, political and social errors which successive Popes fought, wrote and legislated against for over 200 years… Today, as we see these errors bearing evil fruit, exhilarate yourself with the authentic original words of ‘The Syllabus of Errors’ (Pius IX, 1864), ‘On Freemasonry and Naturalism’ (Leo XIII), ‘Syllabus Condemning the Errors of the Modernists’ (St. Pius X. 1907) , ‘On Evolution and Other Errors’ (Pius XII, 1950)” ...and, oh, so much more. “After this book, the reader will be forced to conclude: ‘The Popes were right all along’.”
2. Characters Of The Inquisition, by William Thomas Walsh – “Refutes the many lies about the Inquisition raised by the enemies of the Church. Shows why it was instituted, and how it preserved Catholic countries from the infamous witch-hunts besmirching Protestant history. This is achieved by narrating the stories of six Grand Inquisitors, including the gentle, much-maligned Torquemada. Exonerates the Church of all wrong-doing. Essential history!”
3. Eucharist Miracles – “The story of 36 major Eucharistic Miracles from Lanciano, Italy in 800 to Stich, Bavaria in 1970. Details the official investigations. Covers Hosts that have bled, turned to flesh, turned to gold, levitated, melted, danced, disappeared etc. Plus, Saints who have lived on the Eucharist alone. Proves the Church’s doctrine of the Real Presence like no other book!”
All volumes published in the last 12 months. All fully approved by the contemporary church. All available from firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I have written to the BBC to say that you are an allegedly ‘ex’ Roman Catholic and a definite communist and I have no doubt that your friends Daly and Tynan are no better. People such as you would support anybody in the world except white British people... You are deceased.”
I’m banking he or she meant diseased.
The communication came in response to a suggestion I’d made in the Belfast Telegraph that Anne Daly and Ronan Tynan’s film, Race To The Bottom should be shown asap on a northern channel.
The film, broadcast on TG4 a few weeks ago, was inspired by a newspaper report of 51 women and girls, some as young as 10, dying in a fire in a textile factory in Narshindhi, near Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, in November 2001. The doors had been locked and the windows barred, lest – as a trade union organiser explained – they grabbed lengths of cloth or fistfuls of buttons as they fled inevitable conflagrations.
The relevance of the film to the North has to do with the parallel it draws between the garment workers of Dhaka and of Derry, charting the way production in textiles is constantly on the move as business chases profit across the world.
It was low wages which initially brought shirt manufacture to the north west. But as labour costs rose through union pressure and social progress generally, and capital became more mobile, the industry reached a situation whereby no amount of hard work and clever marketing in Derry could generate the profit levels available elsewhere. The film showed Nazma Akter recruiting garment workers for the union in Dhaka, just as Rita Keyes used to in Derry. Both speak passionately about the connected experience which made them part of the same process.
Production lines transfered from Derry to Rabat and then onwards to Dhaka may shortly be shifted again to China or Vietnam where even more favourable terms are on offer to western companies. Thus are the lives of workers dragged ever further down as the race to the bottom proceeds.
The reason the film deserves wider showing is not just that it is based partly on Irish experience but that, more eloquently than any political polemic or treatise, it illustrates the necessity to think globally, act locally. The phenomenon whereby 700-plus textile workers lost their jobs in Derry in the last two months cannot be confronted by local action alone, but only by coordinated action across continents.
Those who say this isn’t possible should ponder the at least 1,000 demonstrations in 80-plus countries against the oil war on February 15 – organised within three months of the call being made at the European Social Forum in Florence in November.
In the meantime, let us ponder, too, the demented bewilderment of folk who not only believe that these views are attributable to religious upbringing and error, but who take the trouble to put their thoughts on paper for conveyance through the postal system to the object of their ire. These people are walking among us, friends, not only virtually indistinguishable from Catholics, but frequently passing even for rational human beings.
Be careful out there.
On the subject of who’s reading what, here’s John Waters in the Irish Times (March 3): “Osama Bin Laden, if he was indeed the evil genius behind September 11, has almost certainly read Don DeLillo’s novel Mao II, in which the main character...”
The mind had scarce stopped boggling at John’s confident knowledge of Osama’s reading habits, when he delivered his key conclusion: “In rendering it almost impossible for a war to be fought without the leaders of the West offering themselves for political sacrifice, our civilisation places itself at greater future risk.”
So civilisation would be safer if Bush and Blair were able to go to war without fear of political comeback...
More on this later, perhaps. Right now, we are going for a lie-down.