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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Expecting the Islamofascists

3 for $1.00 - I couldn't resist. I began to scan the portable bookshelf that sat on the sidewalk in front of the brightly lit used book store. Immediately a thick old tome caught my eye. I took it from its place on the shelf and opened it to the table of contents when I noticed the following passage printed on the opposite page:



I quickly located two more books to complete the $1.00 trio, paid the storekeeper, and headed home with what, in the last eight years, has become one of my most treasured books. Its amazing that something so rich was purchased for a mere 33 1/3 cents!

Since the holidays are over, I have been free to catch up on my reading. During these last two weeks I have been revisiting the book which I described above. Entitled "Heart of Europe - An anthology of Creative Writing in Europe 1920 -1940", it was edited by Klaus Mann and Herman Kesten, and published in 1943.

The 65-year-old collection is made up of essays, short stories, poems, and prose that were written during the two decades between WWI, The Great War and WWII, The Big One. Its 975 pages are divided among writers from twenty European countries who at the time reflected the psyche and suffering of the peoples who survived one war only to be swept into another.

It is said that history repeats itself but that only occurs when the lessons that history has to offer are deliberatly ignored. Whenever I open "Heart of Europe" I not only travel the continent and experience cultures other than my own, I also journey back in time to the years in which fascism developed from its inception to dominate Europe and threaten the entire globe. We should be thankful that some very brave writers chose to
warn their respective fellow citizens of that rising threat. Their words still bear heeding as they ring true for today's America.

Note - Although the wars color many of the offerings in this book, the included works also cover a wide variety of writings on love, middle age, the law, everyday life at the time, and beauty as well as many other topics.


The poem "Expecting The Barbarians" jumped off of the page of my copy of "Heart of Europe" last week after witnessing a televised speech given by John McCain. During his performance, McCain, the candidate, practically foamed at the mouth every time he spat the religiobabble phrase "ISLAMOFASCISTS" into the camera. This fearsome talking point seemed to be the theme of his tough talk harangue. Following McCain's tirade, we were treated to the dire hissings of George W. Bush who warned of (or threatened?) attack if Americans, who do not want to be spied upon, allowed FISA to lapse. The Barbarians are coming...

Penned by Greek poet C.P. Cavafy, "Expecting The Barbarians" was translated by Marguerite Yourcenar and W.H. Auden for the 1943 copy of "Heart Of Europe". I prefer their translation to the more modern translations I viewed online. It has more impact.

Give it a read and then replace the term Barbarians with Islamofascists to put its message into current political context. And Do think of our impotent Democratic Congress. Enjoy.

...........................EXPECTING THE BARBARIANS............. by
C.P. Cavafy

What are we all waiting for,
Gathered together like this on the public square?

The Barbarians are coming to-day.

Why this air of listlessness in the Senate House?
Why have the Senators given up legislating?

The Barbarians are coming to-day.
What good would be the good of legislating?
When they come, the Barbarians will make the law.

Why has our Emperor got out of bed so early?
What is he doing at the city gates,
With his crown on his head and such a solemn expression?

The Barbarians are coming to-day
The Emperor is waiting to receive their leader.
He has even prepared a charter
Granting him honors and titles.

Why are our two consuls and our praetors
All got up in their embroidered scarlet robes?
Why are they covered with bracelets and rings?
What are they gong to do with their precious staffs,
Wonderfully filigreed in silver and gold?

The Barbarians are coming to-day.
And such things impress Barbarians.

Then why are our famous orators not here to make speeches
And display their usual fluency?

The Barbarians are coming to-day.
And the Barbarians do not appreciate fine phrases or long speeches.

Why, now, all of a sudden, this disturbance?
How solemn everybody's face has suddenly become?
Why are the streets and the squares all emptying so quickly?
Why is everybody going home looking so blue?

Because night has fallen and the Barbarians have not come.
And some people have just got back from the frontiers
Who say that there are no more Barbarians.

And now, without the Barbarians, what is to become of us?
After all, they would have been kind of a solution.

Islamofascist is such a scary term. When one considers that is was a Christofascist president who conspired with Judeaofascist advisors and plain old corporate fascist greedmonkeys to launch a preemptive fascist invasion, and an ongoing massively destructive war against a sovereign country and its people, it appears that the Islamofascits have some pretty terrifying close relatives.

Got to go, I've got some reading to do
..........Kitchen Window Woman..........

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Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Sounds like an interesting read. I was at a garage sale a few months ago and found a bunch of old Readers' Digests from the 1950s and early '60s. It was too funny, seeing all these articles warning about the Communist Menace.

The names have changed, but the Powers That Be want us to stay focused on an outside enemy so we won't be paying attention to what our own "leaders" are doing.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Tim in Cleveland said...

Mr. McCain is forever being shown to be a hero of the Vietnam War. Anyone who wants to see what a real hero of the Vietnam War looks like can click here:

6:11 AM  
Blogger Kitchen Window Woman said...

Tom Harper...
I love old books and magazines. Magazines are good for looking at the old ads, too. I collect old cookbooks.

"Heart of Europe" also has some pages that haven't been cut apart. They were somehow placed in the book with folded edges still intact. My aunt told me that many books came out that way during the war. One had to cut the pages open with scissors or a letter opener. Some of the edges of the pages are also rough almost as as if they were torn.

An "enemy" outside offers the perfect cover for corrupt leaders to commit crimes against the people they are supposed to be working for. Americans need to pay attention to the enemies within!

Hi, Thanks for the article. I printed a copy - it looks like a good one.

McCain is worrisome on many levels. I do not think that he has ever been treated for PTSD after having been a prisoner of war - he is not the type to seek treatment. It may be one of the reasons he has such an easily triggered, volatile temper. He needs to be deprogrammed.

10:04 AM  
Blogger deuddersun said...

Well, when I first started reading the poem I thought, "Hey, this looks like it would work better if I substituted the word Republicans for Barbarians instead." Then I got to the end. Unfortunately for America, the Republicans did show up and here we are today.

What I wanna know now is how do we get them to leave?


5:18 AM  

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