"Oooh...thank you for coming back, Gari, and entertaining us with some snooty and patronising nonsense from across the sea!'
No, you're quite welcome. I'm going to do this, though, by means of a Russian interlocutor. I will refer, you see, to the legalize torture bill upon which the president and his moderate republican friends have settled.
See, if there's any country with less recent experience of torturing people than America, it's England. We stopped killing our citizens in the 1960s, and our police brutality has of late been rather low key. Which is why I would refer you to this article by Vladimir Bukovsky, which should have the subhead "I've been tortured before, it's rubbish, and will hurt you as much as it hurts me."
The piece starts with a morbid soviet era secret police joke, climaxes with the author's description of how a clumsy force-feeding left the supervising doctor in tears and blood pouring out of his nose. In between, we get some observations such as this:
This is a new debate for Americans, but there is no need for you to reinvent the wheel. Most nations can provide you with volumes on the subject.
So, why would democratically elected leaders of the United States ever want to legalize what a succession of Russian monarchs strove to abolish?
Which will both enrage the people most in need of heeding their message. Seriously, why do we, and here I'm referring to the earth's non-Americans, bother? When we have some of the US' more sober-minded politicians spouting stuff like this:
I want President Chavez to please understand that even though many people in the United States are critical of our president that we resent the fact that he would come to the United States and criticize President Bush"
I must say that insulting foreign statesmen is every citizen of the world's birthright, and is basically why we have navies - to protect us from the consequences of our less sensible utterances. Seriously, I have a suspicion that the bulk of America's reprsentatives wouldn't have lasted five minutes as governor of Hong Kong.
What Rangel should have said was: "look, the man's a bit of the loon, I'm sure a stint in a South American military would do that to the best of us. Thanks for the cheap heating oil, and all that, but its rather hard to digest criticism coming from a man who's used to being greeted with. "“I dare to say you are like the king of Venezuela, ... Hello President.”
I was led to expect upon moving here that Americans were very concerned with their reputation abroad, but have decided that this is only true of the sliver of coastal cosmopolitans. Even the mecha-Liberals. It is, after all, probably best to dismiss these ravings, or engage in ones even more intemperate. To do otherwise is to get very wound up.