divendres, de juliol 31, 2009

Top Ten Things About "Rasputin" By Boney M

"Comte Arnau"
Staff Top 10
Top Ten Things About "Rasputin" By Boney M

y paternal grandfather, rest his soul, only liked old jazz and big band music, with one shining exception: "Rasputin". We have no idea why. - Ian Mathers.

Modern pop music is cursed by cyclicism. Whenever something new comes out, people will immediately find things to liken it to. One thing that nothing ever gets compared to, though, is “Rasputin” by Boney M. #2 in October 1978 (kept off the top slot by ‘Summer Lovin’’), and an influence on roughly no-one at all. To be fair, claiming to have a Boney M influence to your sound will most likely lead to people thinking you’ve taken the piss. Yes, disco’s credible nowadays, but only the credible bits of it. Chic, Earth Wind & Fire, Donna Summer—come on in, we’re making a list of people we can dismiss as ripping off Gang Of Four! Boney M, though, were Belgian, and are continuing to drag themselves around Europe on tours with revamped line-ups and ‘updated sound for the new millennium’, picking up more and more derision as they go. The only certified cover of “Rasputin” that AMG throws up is by… James Last. I can’t quite work out whether or not I’d want to hear that.

This list isn’t about taking the piss out of an easy target, though. There’s a difference between enjoyment and mockery—if this was just a thing about crap lyrics, then I’d have gone for ‘Whodunit?’ by Tavares instead (“Tell Dirty Harry / We’re supposed to get ma-ha-rried!”), though that’s a quality song too. No, “Rasputin” is a whole wide world of odd—delicious odd, delightful odd, a complete and utter idiosyncracy in pop music. With disco double handclaps, obviously. What follows are my ten favourite things about it, in no particular order. We begin with:

1) It’s a disco song. About Rasputin. And that’s it.
“Rasputin,” you would think, has some clever hidden context to it. It’s about love in some way, no? Well, though he does repeatedly get referred to as “Russia’s Greatest Love Machine,” there doesn’t appear to be any kind of a context beyond that at all. It’s the story of Rasputin. The authorities didn’t like him. He was quite good at sex. Women enjoyed this. The authorities attempted to poison him. They failed. So they shot him, and he died. And that’s about it. No metaphors, nothing like that, just the ultra-ultra-ultra abbreviated summary of Rasputin’s life and sexual prowess. With disco double handclaps. From Belgium.

2) And now, some balalaikas
Russia’s impact on Western pop music is a bit muddled. So far as I can make out, two Russian acts have made the UK Top 40, and even then only recently—firstly, PPK’s ‘Resurrection’, a fairly generic trance tune that made #3 in December 2001, and whose main concession to being Russian was that it featured about a minute of what sounded like some people on a submarine talking in Russian at the end, for reasons no-one ever quite figured out. Then, of course, there were Tatu, who we could tell were Russian because one of them had ginger hair, they couldn’t speak English, and the Western world was utterly terrified of them.

This sort of fear and alienation often crops up when Western acts attempt to incorporate Russian elements into their music—Michael Jackson’s ‘Stranger In Moscow’, for instance, or Simply Red’s album Love And The Russian Winter, whose cover primarily features Mick Hucknall’s head above a big steel train, looking a bit cold. There’s also the whole ‘literary allusions’ thing—Love And The Russian Winter sounds a bit mysterious, a bit poetic, and, well, poncey. This recurs in what is perhaps “Rasputin”’s main heir, that being the opening of The Decline Of British Sea Power—some men chanting for a minute (‘Men Together Today’), before some taut, sparse guitar and a man proclaiming “Oh Fy-o-dor-you-are-the-most att-ract-tive man… HWERP!” British Sea Power, you see, read books.

Boney M, on the other hand, seemed to use the balalaika & chanting method because it’s quite good to dance to. More power to them.

3) How you like bass?
So the balalaika and the “HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY!” have got you settled in, all nice and cosy… and then, with no prior warning, in comes a bassline. This is the main sticking point for me—I can’t quite work out whether it’s utterly disorienting and jarring, or completely sublime. It’s often struck me that DJ’ing with “Rasputin” could be an extremely hairy experience, simply because that bass is so pronounced, almost like a third intro (after the drums and the balalaikas)—but crucially, not the one people would recognise. Its appearance is so sudden and pronounced that people might think you’ve messed up with the fading, and then they’ll think “Ah, he/she is rubbish at DJ’ing, I’m going to go somewhere where they play Razorlight instead.” Alternatively, they might think you’re trying to do a mash-up, and then they’ll think “Ah, he/she is rubbish at DJ’ing, I’m going to go somewhere where they play Razorlight instead.” Thing is, though, that over time you really start to appreciate how smoothly it comes in, slipping in between the balalaika and the chanting, subtly usurping the balalaika and switching the tempo and pitch considerably but still going absolutely perfectly with the slowly diminishing chants, and providing the perfect bridge into:

4) Yes, it’s the double disco handclaps
To be honest, you can probably go wrong with the old violins & handclaps approach. In fact, you definitely can. “Rasputin”, however, doesn’t. The strings are tight, clipped, and slightly jarring, always high up, aloof, swirly, slightly furious, and timed brilliantly. And the handclaps—gosh, it seems like such a meme, sometimes, liking something cos it’s got handclaps in it, but in “Rasputin” they are timed absolutely perfectly, coming in right after the “Ra, Ra” of the chorus to back up the “Rasputeen” that comes right after. It’s incredible, really. The whole arrangement of the song—that bassline, with no idea of what it’s doing other than it HAS THE FUNK and IT MUST OBEY, propelling it along, no time to stop and admire the scenery or what have you, we’ve got some disco to be doing.

5) “But to Moscow chicks he was such a lovely dear”
So, as we’ve already pointed out, doing a disco song about Rasputin isn’t the most obvious thing to do. The thing about “Rasputin” is that at no point do you ever think anyone that’s involved in the making of the song has any idea about Rasputin at all, something that the lyrics waste no time establishing:
Most people look at him
With terror and with fear
But to Moscow chicks
He was such a lovely dear
This is possibly the most confusing lyric in the whole thing (not the most confusing part—we’re saving that for later). It’s just… bedazzling, really, the way in which it shows absolutely no grasp of anything at all ever, the schism between the terror and the lust—no malice or controversy intended at all, somehow it just seemed like a good idea at the time. People could probably write whole doctorates about it, so let’s just say it’s OMGWTFLOL like nothing before or since. Or at least, outside the confines of this record.

6) It’s a little thing I like to call ‘vocal interplay’
The backing music for “Rasputin” is truly amazing, making it possibly one of the greatest disco records ever. The vocals, however, are what people tend to remember. Quite apart from that mother of all chorus hooks –“RA RA RASPUTEEN, LOVER OF THE RUSSIAN QUEEN!”—we also get the contrasting vocal styles of The Bloke Out Of Boney M and The Girls Out Of Boney M. He sounds like Leonard Cohen on the pull, slurring and leching his way through goodness knows what kind of intoxicants—“Zere lived a cerrdin man, in Ruzzher longer go…” The Girls, for their part, just sound really pissed off. When they proclaim that Rasputin “also was the kind of teacher women would—desire”, you can imagine them thinking “Was he bollocks as like. Oh Christ, the bloke out of Boney M’s on the daiquiris again.”

7) “And he really came”
Then again, when you see some of the lines the girls got to sing, you can perhaps understand why. Aside from no-one being quite sure why they’re singing about early twentieth century Russia, the storytelling can at times be a bit… muddled. When it comes to detailing the plot to poison Rasputin, for instance, it gets summarised thus:
Then one night some men of higher standing
Set a trap, they’re not to blame
Come and visit us, they kept demanding
And he really came
Rhyming’s a bitch, isn’t it?

8) Once more for the ra-ra’s
And yet, the rhyming needs to be a bitch, because the structure of the song itself is simultaneously so structured and yet oddly free. See that intro—or rather, all three of them. The drumming and the military three-clap, the balalaika (it might not be a balalaika, but I’d like to think so) and the chanting, then the bassline and the strings. The way every verse and chorus gets stuck in the exact same metre, using the rhythmic repetition with the actual rhythm section’s intensity to make it incredibly infectious—even the strings have a hugely regimented feel to them. Most of all, though—“RA RA RASPUTIN!” What a chant that is, perhaps the most plausible explanation for the song’s existence—someone just sings it to themselves one day and thinks, “Ooh, I could make a hit out of that, though obviously not as popular a hit as ‘Summer Lovin’.” It’s all so perfectly planned, and yet there’s those touches that distract from all that, a whole litany of flourishes that make it feel truly liberating. Perhaps most notable, though, are the last two points on this list.

9) “Hi, I’m Ed Winchester”
Easily the oddest vocal moment comes in the middle of the song, when, entirely unheralded, the backing gets all Morricone, and then some man comes along and says “But when his drinking and his lusting and his hunger for power became known to more and more people, the demands to do something about this outrageous man became louder and louder!” Now, spoken word interludes in themselves are not odd things. Spoken word interludes that are delivered by a quite possibly drunken man attempting to imitate Walter Kronkite are a somewhat different matter. He talks like he’s just stumbled through the front door of his house. “Darling. Summinimportant to tell you. Bloke in Russia, yeah. Has sex. People, right, nottappy. Gissa kiss.” He makes no appearance at any other point in the song, just a fleeting fifteen seconds of fame in the middle of the record to advance the storyline a bit. I can’t really explain why, but I think I love him.

10) “Oh, those Russians…”
Eventually, though, it comes to an end. There is a suspicion that the songwriters might have forgotten about that until it was a bit late:
Ra ra Rasputin
Lover of the Russian queen
They wouldn’t quit, they wanted his head

Ra ra Rasputin
Russia’s greatest love machine
And so they shot him till he was dead
And, er, that’s it.

Except, of course, for the postscript, the one thing above all others that people tend to remember “Rasputin” for: “Oh, those Russians…”

And perhaps that’s all you can say, really. “Oh, those Russians…” “Rasputin” manages to be both one of the most technically impressive yet bizarrely simplistic pop songs ever, and that one line, delivered in the bloke

dimecres, de juliol 15, 2009

Cabinet Pulls the Plug on Mexican and Czech Visa-free Travel

Cabinet Pulls the Plug on Mexican and Czech Visa-free Travel

by Michelle Collins

Published July 15, 2009

The decision to impose visa requirements on Mexico came down to one more vote in favour than against at the Cabinet table earlier this year, sources say. Subsequent months of intense lobbying by senior Canadian and Mexican officials trying to overturn the decision were unsuccessful.

And now that the decision is official, experts and insiders spanning refugee, trade and general foreign policy issues are lining up to take shots at what is being described as one of the most perplexing—and possibly damaging—foreign policy decisions the government has taken in some time.

The Final Blow

Since becoming immigration minister in November 2008, Jason Kenney has made no secret of his frustrations with Canada's refugee system, including the number of refugee claimants coming from Mexico.

In a speech to the Canadian Council for Refugees in Toronto in November, Mr. Kenney raised the possibility of a two-tier system where applicants from what he called "liberal democracies" like Mexico, Britain and the Czech Republic are treated differently than those from conflict zones or totalitarian societies.

When a United Nations report in March showed a 30 per cent increase in the number of people seeking asylum in Canada, Mr. Kenney told the National Post this was "clearly an abuse of Canada's generosity."

Mr. Kenney also said that a 90 per cent rejection rate of claims made by Mexicans at Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board "would suggest wide scale and almost systematic abuse."

Recent reports on the Immigration and Refugee Board have foretold of such crises and flatly stated the board desperately required more resources to respond to a growing number of refugee claims. Despite this, however, Mr. Kenney told Embassy in April there would be no additional funding.

"The chairman of the IRB tells me that it would require tripling the size of the IRB to deal with the current backlog," Mr. Kenney said. "That's clearly not an option, particularly during tight fiscal times.

As one senior diplomat who has previously been posted to Mexico told Embassy on Tuesday, the visa requirement is something that had been looming for some time, though only recently was it actively discussed.

According to sources, the split Cabinet vote that saw visa requirements adopted was held several months ago. The decision was taken quietly and never announced, and insiders believe the government might have been waiting until after the annual Security and Prosperity Partnership summit in Mexico in early August to make it public.

However, efforts were being undertaken behind the scenes to head off what was seen as a disastrous decision. Insiders say that for at least two months, top officials from the Mexican government have been treading through Ottawa, attempting to negotiate their way out of a visa requirement. As well, Foreign Affairs officials like Guillermo Rishchynski, Canada's ambassador to Mexico, were busy meeting with counterparts in the Prime Minister's Office, lobbying hard—though ultimately unsuccessfully—against the new requirement.

Then, over the past few weeks, reports began to emerge that the government was considering slapping visa restrictions on Mexico and re-imposing them on the Czech Republic. Those who knew the truth remained tight-lipped and extraordinarily cautious about who they told, and how much was said, but word slowly spread.

An article that ran in a Mexican newspaper, Excelsior, last week referred to such rumours, as did an earlier report in a newspaper in Prague. The article in Mexico had been penned by Isabel Studer Noguez, former deputy director for Canada at Mexico's ministry of foreign affairs.

Then, last week, a senior official with the Mexican Embassy in Ottawa confirmed with Embassy that visa requirements had been approved by the government but would not say any more. It was only Monday afternoon that Mr. Kenney went public with the news.

In a statement, Mr. Kenney cited soaring refugee claims from Mexico, which have tripled since 2005, as the reason for imposing visa requirements at 12:01 a.m. on July 14. In 2008, the number of claims reached 9,400, representing 25 per cent of all claims, the statement said. Only 11 per cent were accepted.

"In addition to creating significant delays and spiraling new costs in our refugee program, the sheer volume of these claims is undermining our ability to help people fleeing real persecution," Mr. Kenney said.

The Mexican Embassy in Ottawa responded with its own press release, just before 5 p.m. Monday, stating that it "regrets the decision."

"During the past few months Mexico has held consultations with Canadian authorities to assess other measures to deal with the problem of fraudulent claims," it read.

The Mexican government blamed the growing number of refugee claims from Mexico on illegitimate organizations that charge fees and mislead Mexicans acting in good faith. They also hammered at the delays causing havoc in Canada's overburdened, underfunded refugee system.

"Organizations have taken advantage of Canadian response times to assess refugee claims, where excessive delays have become appealing in the filing of illegitimate cases," they said.

The Fallout

Years ago when Canada, the U.S. and Mexico were negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, Demetri Papademetriou, director of the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., helped negotiate the migration sections. At that time, Canada was adamant there would be no visas.

"I recall how clear Canada was that they were not going to impose a visa for Canada and how clear the U.S. was that they were going to maintain a visa requirement," Mr. Papademetriou said. "Canada has always stuck to its guns."

But Mr. Papademetriou and others say the rising refugee claimants to Canada signalled that changes may be on the horizon. Additional factors, say experts, are the global economic recession that has wiped out jobs in the U.S. as well as remittances to Mexico, the worsening narcotics-related violence spreading across Mexico, and the Canadian government's desire to harmonize security with the U.S.

Still, while the official reaction of the Mexican government could be described as reserved—in part, sources say, because they'd resigned themselves to the visa requirements weeks, if not months, ago—there is no doubt it has punctured nerves across the country and Latin American region.

"They were extremely concerned by that, it caught them by surprise," said Mr. Papademetriou of the Mexican government's reaction when it learned of the new visa requirements. "By the time it had reached the highest political level, there was this sort of mobilization of political resources to try to see what might be possible."

But beyond the few people who had caught word of the looming visa requirement, Mr. Kenney's announcement Monday afternoon was a shock.

The Canadian Embassy in Mexico City is ill-equipped to handle visa applications and is expected to be overwhelmed for quite some time. Reports on Tuesday said the mission had temporarily closed its doors and the web site states processing of visas will take up to 45 days.

Canada's business and tourism sectors were quick to condemn the government's decision. Tourism officials warned the effects are potentially "catastrophic" and they have called on the government to delay implementation until Nov. 15, 2009.

In recent years, they say, Canada has welcomed 250,000 tourists from Mexico, 50 per cent of whom visit during July and August. Mexico is the fourth biggest overseas market for Canadian tourism, bringing in approximately $265 million annually.

Liberal Immigration critic Maurizio Bevilacqua said the Conservatives have risked erecting new hurdles to legitimate travel with a NAFTA partner, and that there could be serious economic consequences.

"We've heard concerns that there are too many false refugee claims coming from Mexico," Mr. Bevilacqua said, "But we think the need to slap a blanket visa requirement on the entire population of a country is a damning indictment of the Conservatives' broken, inefficient refugee determination system"

NDP Immigration critic Olivia Chow was equally critical and said the decision will inflict a lot of hardship on both Mexicans and Canadians.

"It's closing the door to cover up their incompetence. For two years huge numbers of vacancies were left in the Immigration and Refugee Board," Ms. Chow said. "It reminds me of Bill C-50 and how the Conservatives had the immigration backlog grow from 650,000 to 900,000, and instead of fixing the real problem they went and closed the door and froze the applications and no one could apply from March to November of last year, and now only those within 38 categories can apply."

Others, meanwhile, say this will have a negative effect on Canada's foreign policy priority of engagement with Latin America, particularly because it will appear that Canada and the U.S. are one and the same in their policies.

"I don't know why Kenney would win on this issue," a source familiar with the political wrangling that happened at the Cabinet table and behind the scenes told Embassy on condition of anonymity. "It's a loser for the government's Americas policy, a loser on the trade front, and it will harm the Canadian tourism industry. What's the win? Why did they push for this?"

Annette Hester, a senior fellow with the Centre for International Governance Innovation, said the decision to impose visas is "incredibly unfortunate."

"It adds to the list of aggravants and I think it doesn't help develop credence for Canada's Americas policies," Ms. Hester said. "It is hard to judge, but you could speculate or you could imagine that countries in the Americas observe that Canada's reaction to strife and difficulty...might be perceived as one of 'I'll protect myself' and not one of 'I understand you're having a very difficult time, what can we do to help you?'"

Carol Wise, an associate professor at the University of Southern California's School of International Relations, said that Canada's visa requirement is a harsh blow against Mexico, and signals a deterioration of relations for the continent.

"I think it's probably going to be more bitterness given that we've constructed a $7-billion wall at the border and Canadians were always seen as the partner that had better understanding and a more humane attitude toward Mexico," Ms. Wise said. "We are really, really flirting with the collapse of any sense of a North American community."

Meanwhile, Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, said she was very upset to hear of the visas and said Canada's refugee system wrongly characterizes Mexico as being able to protect its citizens when it often cannot.

"[Refugee claims] are one of the few options that people have for being able to get out of the situation where they're being abused and Mexico has been a country where there was a possibility at least for people who had sufficient money to buy an airfare, and that's much cheaper than having to pay for a smuggler," Ms. Dench said. "Unfortunately the policies of a government like Canada will force refugees into the hands of smugglers by putting on the visa requirement."


dissabte, de juliol 11, 2009

We must not forget Srebrenica

We must not forget Srebrenica

On the anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, we must commit to tackle racial and religious hate crimes fuelled by the far right

In early July 1995, during several days of carnage, Bosnian Serb forces commanded by Ratko Mladić summarily executed more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys who had sought sanctuary in the town of Srebrenica. Nearly 25,000 women, children and elderly people were forcibly deported, and rapes and beatings were common, making this event the biggest war crime to take place in Europe since the end of the second world war.

In January this year the European parliament voted to designate 11 July as Srebrenica remembrance day to ensure that the memory of this terrible crime lives on. It is a warning and a reminder that more than 60 years after the Holocaust caused an entire generation to say "never again", the dangers of sectarianism and division are as real as ever.

In this country and across Europe race hate attacks are again on the rise. A recent spate of attacks on mosques, fuelled by far-right anti-immigrant extremism, shows that even now, there are those who would exploit fear and use violence to divide us. The election of two BNP MEPs

and police warnings of a threat of terrorism from the far right highlight the need to take on this extremism, no matter where it finds root.

That urgency is underlined by the shocking murder of Marwa al-Sherbini, a Muslim woman who was killed at a Dresden courtroom by someone who hated her decision to adopt the headscarf. The muted response to her murder is equally shocking, with officials describing the tragedy as an "incident", and German media focusing on courtroom security rather than asking what motivated the assailant's deep hatred for Muslims.

Surely this is a wake-up call for all of us to reflect and resolve to be ever vigilant. The muted response from our politicians and media is astounding. In fact, many are anxious that we are creating the atmosphere for such attacks to take place. As Nicolas Sarkozy's recent remarks on women who choose to wear the burka show, too many of our leaders seek to accommodate the far right instead of tackling them head-on. We must mark the 14th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre with a renewed vigour to take on divisive ideologies and the peddlers of racial and religious hatred.

dissabte, de juliol 04, 2009

Les 'Lolitas' de Teheran

Les 'Lolitas' de Teheran
Melcior Comes / Escriptor

Els nens palestins em sembla que conformen una realitat absolutament defensable; però m'agradaria que mobilitzessin els nostres sentiments amb la mateixa mesura que les dones de l'Iran. L'opinió pública del país es va posar a fer escarafalls davant els bombardejos israelians de fa uns mesos, però ara no diu res de la continuïtat fraudulenta d'un règim polític que esclavitza, tortura i mata milers de dones des de fa dècades. Una de les nostres tan tristes paradoxes.
AMB LA LLEI A LA MÀ, UNA DONA a l'Iran val la meitat d'un home, pot ser assassinada impunement si és sorpresa en adulteri, i serà lapidada si el marit pot contenir-se i la posa en mans de la justícia. El divorci només depèn de la voluntat de l'home; i la dona tan sols podrà tenir la custòdia dels fills mentre aquests tinguin menys de set anys. Poden ser condemnades a morir amb tan sols nou anys, un cop s'ha rebaixat fins a aquest punt l'edat per casar-se. Tampoc les dones no poden anar soles a declarar en un judici. Ara mateix, hi ha condemnades a mort diverses lesbianes, esperant l'execució. Així, l'any passat, Pegah Emambakhx, una lesbiana iraniana a l'exili, temia ser expulsada d'Anglaterra i repatriada al seu país, on possiblement seria condemnada a morir de la pitjor manera. Tan sols els italians s'oferiren a acollir-la.
L'ANY 2006 UN ASSAGISTA TAN brillant com Ramin Jahanbegloo -autor de dos llibres de converses excepcionals, amb George Steiner i Isaiah Berlin, i amb obra traduïda al català- va ser detingut a l'aeroport de Teheran, en tornar de l'Índia, acusat d'espionatge pel règim sàtrapa d'Ahmadinejad. Va estar quatre mesos empresonat, tot per ser un dels opositors més notoris i escoltats d'aquella teocràcia. Un bon plegat dels millors escriptors del panorama mundial demanaven la seva posada en llibertat, entre els quals hi havia J.M. Coetzee i Umberto Eco.
A L'IRAN LES COSES ESTAN D'AQUESTA manera, encara que nosaltres preferim parlar dels mocadors que les seves dones porten al cap. ¿Per què no surten ara a les places públiques a manifestar-se contra aquest règim tots els que sortiren a bramar contra el suposat "genocidi" palestí? ¿Per què no demanar ara un trencament de les relacions diplomàtiques, o un boicot ridícul dels seus productes comercials, per exemple de pistatxos, ja que l'Iran n'és el principal productor mundial? ¿Per què una feminista tan notòria com Rosa Maria Sardà, que va treure el cap per passejar per Barcelona la pancarta que afirmava que Israel era com l'Alemanya nazi, no surt a defensar un lema semblant, ara amb més encert? A l'Estat d'Israel hi ha un règim de llibertats, igualtat de sexes, democràcia neta, laïcitat i separació de poders: res d'això no tenen a l'Iran. ¿On són ara els magribins que sortiren pels carrers de Palma o Barcelona? ¿Per què no sortim tots a demanar la democràcia i el fi de la violència a Teheran?
LA MANERA COM MOLTS marroquins tracten les seves dones als nostres pobles i ciutats -gairebé no surten de casa, sempre guaitant des de tots els balcons penombrosos, moltes no poden anar a comprar soles- els deu apropar sentimentalment al règim dels aiatol·làs, però, ¿i les nostres dones progressistes? ¿Per què no surten ara a reivindicar la caiguda d'un règim infame? ¿Que potser el progressisme d'esquerres simpatitza amb Ahmadinejad?
NO VOLDRIA SUPOSAR-HO, ENCARA que aquest és ben amic de Chaves, que cau molt bé als membres més tronats de la nostra esquerra eixelebrada. I els és simpàtic sense que hi hagi tampoc una bona explicació. Alguns dels actuals amics de Chaves es van distingir per la seva oposició a Franco, és cert, però Chaves fa el mateix que el nostre vell dictador, per exemple en restricció de llibertats i en matèria econòmica. Franco ho va nacionalitzar tot, des de la siderúrgia fins al tabac, els trens, el telèfon, les drassanes, la televisió, les mines i els avions, i Chaves fa el mateix, arruïnant un país, sense que s'alcin contra seu les veus dels nostres tan bonhomiosos llibertaris.
LES 50.000 BONES PERSONES QUE sortiren pels carrers de Barcelona contra Israel el passat mes de gener haurien de llegir l'obra de la professora Azar Nafisi: Llegir "Lolita" a Teheran. Nafisi va ser expulsada de la universitat iraniana per no portar el mocador, i va decidir muntar unes classes a casa seva, on ella i les seves alumnes llegien i comentaven grans obres de la literatura universal, totes prohibides a l'Iran: des de Jane Austen a Henry James, passant per Scott Fitzgerald, tot i que va ser Nabokov qui els va arribar a l'ànima. Les iranianes veien en Humbert Humbert, el poeta pèrfid i pedòfil de Nabokov, una representació perfecta dels homes del seu país, ja que ells, com el protagonista de la novel·la, les tenen reduïdes, tancades, sempre engelosits i furiosos, encara que sense les delicadeses ni vel·leïtats elegíaques d'aquell gran immoralista. Pobres dones de l'Iran. I pobres tots nosaltres, perduts i callats enmig de tants contrasentits.
HAURÍEM, TOTS PLEGATS, DE plantejar-nos quin paper volem jugar en aquesta injustícia. En depèn la nostra credibilitat. No podem seguir fent el ridícul d'aquesta manera, tolerant algunes infàmies enmig d'un silenci culpable o implícitament còmplice i protestant davant les injustícies quan ens vingui de gust, tot perquè hi ha alguns morts que ens cauen més simpàtics o que no han caigut sota les bombes d'alguns enemics atàvics, siguin els EUA o l'Estat d'Israel (l'imperialisme sionista).
PER SORT, PERÒ, ELS IRANIANS NO necessiten el nostre suport per fer camí cap a la llibertat i la democràcia. Tant Nafisi com Jahanbegloo treballen des dels EUA. Durant els anys setanta, l'aiatol·là Khomeini va trobar a França moltes simpaties mentre s'estava a l'exili a causa del seu radicalisme. Michel Foucault -encara un dels cappares del nostre pensament progressista, almenys a les universitats- va escriure llargs articles defensant la revolució teocràtica de Khomeini, veient en ell "una nova forma de creativitat", tot perquè Khomeini unia una ideologia tradicional (l'islam) al discurs antiimperialista de l'esquerra.
LA "REVOLUCIÓ ESPIRITUAL" QUE tant aplaudia Foucault, aquesta "dimensió espiritual en la política" que inaugurava Khomeini, es traduïa amb nenes vestides de negre fins als peus, dones apunyalades perquè passejaven sense vel i dilapidacions per homosexualitat o infidelitat conjugal. Khomeini vigilava i castigava, talment ho fa ara Ahmadinejad sense recordar-se de Foucault.
L'ESTAT PALESTÍ PATROCINAT per Hamàs -que implantaria un règim islamista com el d'Ahmadinejad, o més cruel- tindrà moltes coses a agrair als actors i cantants i joves i vells amb kúfia que sortiren a cremar banderes i a bramar pels carrers de Barcelona, mentre que ni una sola gota d'alliberament i emancipació civil i sexual sortirà d'aquí cap a l'Iran. Només per això ja ens hauria de caure la cara de vergonya.