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11/25/2003 Archived Entry: "Bovard on Terrorism and Tyranny"
I MET JIM BOVARD IN ACTUAL PERSON THIS MONTH. Our paths crossed during our diverse travels. After Jim debated a friendly statist about the virtues of the Patriot Act (and IMHO crushed said statist into dust), he and I spent a pleasant hour solving all the problems of the world while smoking cheap cigars on a hotel balcony. Well, he smoked a cheap cigar, anyhow. And he insisted it was actually a medium-priced cigar, but you coulda fooled me.
We did, however, solve all the problems of the world. Now, if only we could get somebody besides the snoopy old woman on the adjacent balcony to listen.
I've known Jim via phone and e-mail for a couple of years, but this was the first time I met him in reality. He always struck me as extraordinarily kind, generous, and good humored. I'm delighted to say he's even better in person. Here's the sort of guy he is: After the debate, every time anyone would come up to him to tell him how fabulous he was, he'd immediately introduce me and start singing the praises of my writing, rather than accept praise for himself. I finally had to gulp, "Hey, Jim. This is your book tour. You're here to promote your books, not mine."
If you've ever spent much time around writers, you'll know most of 'em would gladly shove any other writer off a cliff to get a bigger share of ego-stroking. So Jim was not only nice. He was ... well, he was Jim Bovard, and that's a very good thing.
Since he wouldn't ego-boost himself, l guess I'll have to do it.
First, a little introduction, since I hear there are people out there who haven't read every word Jim's ever written.
During the Clinton era, Jim was the best antidote to the poison oozing out of Washington. His books, including, "Feeling Your Pain", Lost Rights, and Freedom in Chains were (and are) treasuries of facts to counter Washington lies and spin. Jim is a championship researcher. And he's such a good, strong writer that the facts he uncovers just fly into your face from his pages -- wham, wham, wham! His books are depressing (as he's so weary of hearing). But he leavens them with dry wit. His writing is lucid and fast-paced, and never for one moment do his works even approach dull.
Besides, he makes the statists furious, and that's enough to make a libertarian happy. As his book jacket bio proudly proclaims, "His work has been publicly denounced by the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Postmaster General, the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the chiefs of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. International Trade Commission, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency."
Pretty good endorsements, eh?
With Bill and Hillary on the throne, Jim was flying high. Then came Bush -- and all of a sudden a lot of people who loved hearing about the Clintons' abuses of power weren't interested in hearing about equally bad abuses of power committed by "their" man. Then came 9-11 -- and a lot of people didn't want to hear anything negative about the U.S. fedgov (which had done such a fine job protecting the country). For a while, things were awfully quiet from Jim's corner of the world. Publishers just didn't want "his kind of books."
But now ... He's baaaaack! He hasn't lost a bit of his potency. And I think (and hope) the world is ready for his new book, Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom Justice, and Peace to Rid the World of Evil. The wave of flag-waving and my-country-right-or-wrong is passing. In the cold reality of the Patriot Act and "detentions" without trial or charges, this book is much needed.
Jim takes on the Ashcroft-Ridge-Bush "security" apparatus, rips into it, and rips it apart. Again, his weapon is facts, not mere rhetoric and opinion. Jim despises terrorists as much as anyone -- and that's one reason his facts are so telling. He shows us first how the fedgov blundered and stumbled, utterly failing to see the 9-11 attacks coming, despite heavy evidence. Then he goes on to show how we're still being left vulnerable to real terrorism while increasingly being terrorized by our own government in the name of "security."
Chapter titles tell the story: "Patriot Railroad: Safety through Servility," "Plunder and Proclaim Victory," "License for Tyranny," "The Drugs-Terrorism Charade," "Bastardizing Freedom" (about Bush's cynical use of the language of freedom to promote freedom's opposite), and "Salvation through Surveillance."
Toward the end, Jim offers "A Few Steps to Protect America." So the message is not all bleak.
I'm not finished with this book yet, and I hope to write more on it in another forum. But I can already tell you it's as strong as any work Jim's ever done. It should appeal to ACLU sorts who might not have wanted to hear what he had to say about Clinton. If the world has any sense, Terrorism and Tyranny should also reach the millions who've supported Bush while closing their eyes to what this holy crusader for the police state is actually doing to their country.
You can read excerpts, endorsements, and spin-off articles here. And buy the book here. Put this one on your reading list. And watch for anything else Jim writes.
It's good to have you back, my friend.
Posted by Claire @ 09:48 AM CST