Tom Hauser is not everyone’s friend. For reasons personal, pathological, and in no small part self-created, he has made, and continues to make, enemies, but say what you will about last year’s Nat Fleischer Award winner, nobody has ever been stupid enough to call him dumb.
But calling him disingenuous might be another story.
In his latest essay on SecondsOut.com titled “More Important Than Boxing,” Hauser turns his gaze away from the vagaries of boxing to give his full attention to the vagaries of electoral politics, specifically this week’s critical midterm election in the U.S.
As he recounts, a little less than two years ago, timed to coincide with President George W. Bush’s second inaugural, Hauser wrote an article castigating Bush’s reactionary reign, and the response from some fight fans was underwhelming, if not downright pissy that they had to read about politics from a boxing writer. As one disgruntled reader wrote, “A friend gave me your new book. If I want to read about politics, I'll buy a book about politics.” As if to emphasize his point, the same reader wrote “shove it.”
Hauser didn’t take that critic’s advice to heart, but he abandoned the politics of politics for the more familiar turf of the politics of boxing, and dissent was muffled, muted, squelched, until now. In his latest piece, Hauser goes into attack dog mode, sinking his teeth into George Bush, who, “acting in concert with the Republican-controlled Congress, has done more damage to the United States than any other group of politicians in our nation's history.”
No argument there. Bush’s fear mongering, race baiting and grotesque incompetence have been de rigueur since the glorious days of “shock and awe,” but the methodical Hauser breaks down the methods and madness of King George, while the mob on the right has grabbed hold of their scabbards.
Like most critical yet conventional thinkers who never fought a day on anything other than the battlefield of life (where, admittedly, casualties and MIAs abound), Hauser writes that the “invasion of Afghanistan was a necessity. We didn't take military action there on the pretense of bringing freedom to the Afghani people. We did so because the government of Afghanistan condoned, aided, and sheltered the terrorists who were responsible for 9/11.”
Yes, possibly, maybe, so they say, so they’d have us believe. But “necessity” and sheltering the “terrorists who were responsible for 9/11” aside, those who see deceit and profit behind every convenient (mis)truth link Afghanistan inextricably to oil, black gold, and to the zillion dollar production of poppies (i.e. opium, morphine, heroin trade), which has as much to do with our war in Afghanistan as it had to with our wars in Indochina (The Golden Triangle), the fallacious “domino theory” notwithstanding.
Hauser’s writes that the “invasion of Iraq was a poorly-chosen war of choice,” which is old news at its newest, whereupon he breaks down the foibles, follies and plain old screw-ups of this administration and its decider-in-chief: (1) the Saddam Hussein/weapons of mass destruction boondoggle; (2) the let’s bring democracy to our friends the Iraqis smokescreen; (3) the clever but transparent smoking gun/mushroom cloud duopoly of deceit; and (4) the steady drumbeat of agitprop which accompanies Bush and his cronies’ conscious effort to destabilize the Middle East, to their (and Israel’s) own ends.
Hauser, to his credit, leaves no stone unturned (well, some stones are better left where they are) in his condemnation of Bush the Mendacious and his cowboy foreign policy. He draws attention to Baghdad’s lack of electricity (after four years!) and the fact that billions in aid earmarked for the new Iraqi government has somehow disappeared, much of it, incongruously, into the bomb-throwing/gun-toting hands of insurgents. Hauser also draws attention to the “alarming number of [American military] recruits who belong to militant white-supremacist and neo-Nazi organizations.”
Were not enough, Hauser shines a light on the “slaughter of innocent civilians” in Haditha and the perversions (aka torture) at Abu Ghraib, as well as the concomitant “extraordinary renditions” to “secret prisons around the world.” If that strikes you as some form of hell on earth, better keep it to yourself, because Big Brother, not the TV show, the tyrant, is watching, and waiting to pounce. But there’s more: (1) handing over our port security to the Arabs of Dubai; (2) the inevitable mega tax breaks for the mega rich; and (3) the government report which lists “77,069 potential terrorist targets in the United States,” where Indiana is listed number one and Wisconsin number two as the states most likely to be attacked by Islamic Fundamentalists, highlighted by such likely “terrorist targets” as a petting zoo in Alabama, an Amish popcorn factory in Pennsylvania, and a Mule Day Parade in Tennessee.
Throw in the thieves, fools and perverts in the do-nothing Congress, the rise of Iran and a nuclear North Korea, the antipathy to cutting edge science and the health of the nation, the economic malfeasance that has left the economy in tatters, the Hurricane Katrina debacle (Nero fiddled while Rome burned, whereas Bush played air guitar while New Orleans drowned), and you have what ought to be a perfect recipe for change… if only there were something genuine to change to, and not just more of the same old, same old posturing (i.e. change for change’s sake).
Hauser writes that “The world is moving dangerously close to an irrevocable tipping point. We are living in a time that cries out for a leader like Franklin Roosevelt.” Is that the same Franklin Roosevelt who did nothing to prevent the bombing of Pearl Harbor, even though he had advance warning, because he needed an excuse for an isolationist nation opposed to war for engage in World Wat Two(shades of 9/11)? The same Franklin Roosevelt who was dragged kicking and screaming, against all odds, by his wife Eleanor into the progressive (the opposite of regressive) camp? The same Franklin Roosevelt who sat on his hands while knowing about Auschwitz and Treblinka and Bergen-Belsen during WW II, yet whose enemies derogatorily called him Franklin Rosenfeld for not cozying up to Hitler and the Nazis? (Yes, Virginia, there were fascists hereabouts even way back when.)
Tom, we love ya, but stop mythologizing and let’s get real.
Hauser says the way to begin to turn things around “is by electing a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress on November 7th.” Sounds good on the face of it, but what exactly have the Democrats done lately, like in the last 40 years, to deserve our support, except for the fact they’re not their opponents?
Having a false choice is, sad to say, hardly better than having no choice at all.
(The complete text of Thomas Hauser’s “More Important Than Boxing” can be read at SecondsOut.com)