Today, I catalogued a glorious thing, a first edition of Slaughterhouse-Five. Being a bookish sort (a bookish Librarian? Do I repeat myself?) I couldn’t help read the first page or twenty. What struck me was the profound sense that here, in my hands, was a book that I was sure George W. Bush has never read. I’ll bet money on it. Seriously. If you can tell me honestly and truthfully that the Codpiece Killer has read this book and still thinks War in general and the bloody heap of the one in Iraq in particular is worth anything, fifty bucks is yours.
I’ve read Slaughterhouse-Five before. It’s one of my favorite books, one of those that has had a profound effect on me and my life, not just my writing. Every time I read it, I’m reminded of the madness and death that Kurt Vonnegut and millions of people have seen and are seeing, right now. And it hurts. You read Slaughterhuse-Five and if you have, you know what I’m talking about: that raw exposed nerve that you can’t help but fondle, gently at times, other times, you bash it like a drunk dentist with a rusty hook. You don’t read Slaughterhouse-Five and come away with a good opinion of war. Maybe that raw pain fades and you no longer feel nauseous at the idea of killing people. Fine. You’re less human for it, but hay, the world needs robots, apparently.
Somewhere, very likely in the vicinity of Fox News Channel or the White House (again, do I repeat myself?) there is someone right now who has accepted in their heart the idea that some human being has the power to wage a peaceful war, one in which no one gets hurt. This ignoramus has accepted George W. Bush as their personal savior. They have renounced reality in all its multiform beauty and tragedy and embraced a cult of personality the likes of which this country has never seen before. And they have not read Slaughterhouse-Five. How could they? If they had, they’d know that Bush has an asshole just like everyone. Only, he has a rare condition where his asshole is in the lower middle half of his face rather than nestled between his buttocks. That’s why he always looks like he’s just smelled something bad.
These same people of faith claim that I and others like me who are opposed to War as a general principle and the Iraq War in particular are defective humans. That we somehow aren’t right in the head because we think that mauling other people and turning them into rotting meat is a bad thing. They don’t understand how we can find the idea of burning someone’s flesh off with chemicals a nauseating prospect. This is because they’ve smelled what comes out of the hole beneath Bush’s nose for so long, they can no longer tell when something stinks.
Because once you accept George W. Bush as your personal savior, you no longer have to put up with the burden of compassion or empathy. You also get to ignore people with different opinions, people who still can think for themselves and feel familiarity with other, different humans. These people scare me because they are loud, obnoxious, vote and have never read Slaughterhouse-Five, or anything. They’re probably planning on banning it from the Public Library so that their junior ADHD brat won’t accidentally skim a few pages and have a thought or two.