Dear ITT Ideologist: Bin Laden’s Neighbor Wants Some Answers

Pete Karman

(Illustration by Terry Laban )

Dear ITT Ideologist,

I am the neighbor of the very nice Bin Laden family. Late Sunday night there was a lot of ruckus next door. In the morning, my kids found spent cartridges on the ground and we haven’t seen the Bin Ladens since. I would have reported the incident, but the authorities in our town tend to be indolent and corrupt, so people generally avoid them. I was thinking that perhaps I should contact President Barack Obama, since he is now the protector of our country. Does he actually concern himself with local matters like ours?

– Ali bin Dere, Abbottabad, Pakistan

Dear Mr. Bin Dere, 

You’ll be happy to know that, despite the parlous state of America’s finances, President Obama and the U.S. Government remain generous and willing to aid and advise Pakistanis from the village to the national level. 

For example, you may recall the recent incident where an American agent took the initiative to enforce traffic rules in Peshawar by sanctioning two misbehaving motorcyclists with his Glock. You may also be aware of America’s ongoing drone program aimed at relieving population pressures in your border regions. Therefore you may be confident that Washington has your best interests at heart. To report the above-mentioned incident in Abbottabad, contact President Obama’s special Pakistani Affairs Bureau, Block C, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Dear ITT Ideologist,

My junior high class is doing a project on chauvinism in the mainstream media. I was wondering if you could give me an example of this phenomenon. 

– Timmy Smith, Inkwell, Okla.

Dear Timmy,

Funny you should ask: I recently came across a particularly dazzling one in the New York Times. To set the stage, imagine you saw a July 4th newspaper headline reading America Commemorates Failure of British Colonialism.” That might knock your socks off, since on July 4th Americans celebrate – rather than commemorate – not the failure of British rule but the success of their efforts to end it. 

You would likely think that such a headline was penned by a hoary Empire Loyalist moldering in the ruins of the old Colonial Office and incapable of imagining a perspective different from that of the dotty King George III. Now let me offer you this April 17 headline from the Times: Cuba Commemorates Failed Bay of Pigs Invasion.”

The nuance that the Times missed was the Cubans were in fact throwing a fiesta to celebrate their victory over a U.S. invasion of their country. In other words, it was their version of VJ Day – which the Times is now presumably commemorating as the failure of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

Pete Karman began working in journalism in 1957 at the awful New York Daily Mirror, where he wrote the first review of Bob Dylan for a New York paper. He lost that job after illegally traveling to Cuba (the rag failed shortly after he got the boot). Karman has reported and edited for various trade and trade union blats and worked as a copywriter. He was happy being a flack for Air France, but not as happy as being an on-and-off In These Times editor and contributor since 1977.
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