Going Down (On) Roberts’ Road

Going Down (On) Roberts Road

“Alongside the military struggle, which dates from November 1954, an intellectual battle was being waged in France, particularly from the spring of 1957, in which the methods used by the French military both in Algeria adn in France itself were condemned. One of the key moments in this campaign was the publication in March 1957 of Pierre-Henri Simon’s book Contre la torture, which claimed that torture had become institutionalized in the French army in its dealings with Algerians.” — James Knowlson, friend of Samuel Beckett, author of Damned to Fame

“Risked his life, Lindon did. We need not do so, here… at this time… in this place. [Long pause.] Risk so yet.” — Samuel Beckett to The Ox at the Museum of Modern Art with Alan Schneider, taking a break from prep for their Film, between viewings of Buster Keaton footage, 1964.

I used to live on Roberts Road in Los Gatos, California. What a horror that was for a number of personal reasons.

My friend Janine Roberts, an excellent journalist, was almost beaten to death as per the encouragement of the BBC. For exposing elements in Africa’s diamond industry. Few people believe that. Less ask me for my documentation. What an abomination on all counts.

But I’ve got something else — much worse — for you to consider as you walk down Roberts Road with me… for a few moments right now. That’d be your complicity in torture… as I write.

Forgive me, but I can’t write about this subject without injecting something silly, approaching it from an odd angle. It’s much too painful otherwise.

“Some Americans, unable to face the criminality and inhumanity of their own government, maintain that the government hasn’t tortured anyone, because water boarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” are not torture. This is really grasping at straws. As Ron Paul points out, according to US precedent alone, water boarding has been considered to be torture since 1945, when the United States hanged Japanese military officers for water boarding captured Americans.

If the Obama regime does not hold the Bush regime accountable for violating US and international law, then the Obama regime is complicit in the Bush regime’s crimes. If the American people permit Obama to look the other way in order “to move on,” the American people are also complicit in the crimes.”

So says, Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, in http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts05282009.html.

You must travel down Roberts’ road. For there is no other side to the story respecting our use of torture today. With and without Obama’s clear approval.

You don’t want to be the Good German, do you? Of course not.

Samuel Beckett once told me about the bravery of his publisher, Jerome Lindon. JL took a very dangerous stand against French torture of Algerians in the fifties, and SB praised that action to high heaven.

You can do no less. The very least you can do is to contact me (at headburg@yahoo.com) about my plans to counteract our current momentum, atrocities.

And to motivate you, I feel compelled to invoke Beckett’s line about habit in Waiting for Godot. Something about habit being the great deadener.

You don’t want to be on automatic regarding saluting your flag, following Obama’s lead, and so on.

I know that I don’t. For one of the extreme horrors for me on Roberts Road all those years in Los Gatos was encountering the walking dead, people who were victims of their routines, unquestioning souls… citizen subjects of Habit.

Special note: This was written not just out of a sense of obligation to those who have their testicles squeezed and eyeballs burned, but in honor of people like Jerome Lindon and Janine Roberts… who are so very different from those who provide “the news” for the vast majority of the “civilized” world.