This is simply one of the funniest, most frightening, and outrageous exposes of neocon culture I’ve read in ages: Ship of Fools: Johann Hari Sets Sail with America’s Swashbuckling Neocons. An English journalist, on assignment for The New Republic (which must be doing penance here for shilling for Bush’s Iraq war), infiltrates a National Review cruise and spends the next few days eviscerating the foibles and delusions of his fellow guests. While I appreciate Johan Hari’s wit and courage in taking on this assignment, I also wonder how he could’ve survived the lunacy without jumping off the ship to ease the pain he had to endure. All I can say is I’m glad it was Hari on that ship and not me.
Here is a taste of what’s in store if you follow the above link:
I am standing waist-deep in the Pacific Ocean, both chilling and burning, indulging in the polite chit-chat beloved by vacationing Americans. A sweet elderly lady from Los Angeles is sitting on the rocks nearby, telling me dreamily about her son. “Is he your only child?” I ask. “Yes,” she says. “Do you have a child back in England?” she asks. No, I say. Her face darkens. “You’d better start,” she says. “The Muslims are breeding. Soon, they’ll have the whole of Europe.”
I am getting used to these moments – when gentle holiday geniality bleeds into… what? I lie on the beach with Hillary-Ann, a chatty, scatty 35-year-old Californian designer. As she explains the perils of Republican dating, my mind drifts, watching the gentle tide. When I hear her say, ” Of course, we need to execute some of these people,” I wake up. Who do we need to execute? She runs her fingers through the sand lazily. “A few of these prominent liberals who are trying to demoralise the country,” she says. “Just take a couple of these anti-war people off to the gas chamber for treason to show, if you try to bring down America at a time of war, that’s what you’ll get.” She squints at the sun and smiles. ” Then things’ll change.”
I am travelling on a bright white cruise ship with two restaurants, five bars, a casino – and 500 readers of the National Review. Here, the Iraq war has been “an amazing success”. Global warming is not happening. The solitary black person claims, “If the Ku Klux Klan supports equal rights, then God bless them.” And I have nowhere to run.
Hari’s interviews with fellow tour-guests Norman Podhoretz, Ken Starr and Ward Connerly are priceless and not to be believed.
A little research uncovered that Hari’s idea is not new. Eric Alterman first attended the Nation Review cruise in 1997 and wrote an equally withering critique. Bloggers, like journalists, like to be the first to cover a story or come up with a new angle on one; and alas, I discover (after writing this) that Rachel Sklar has already covered this well at The Huffington Post.