Harold Pinter has always been one of my favorite playwrights. With ominous works like “The Birthday Party” and “The Homecoming,” and some of the best power-struggle-filled screenplays like “The Servant ” and “Accident“, Pinter has always had my deepest esteem. But I never knew what an outspoken political activist he was — nor how relevant his unsettling dramas about oppression, menace and doublespeak were to our contemporary moment — until today, when reading about his lecture last night in honor of his 2005 Nobel Laureate for Literature.
“I know that President Bush has many extremely competent speech writers but I would like to volunteer for the job myself,” said Pinter, who is stricken with throat cancer. “I propose the following short address which he can make on television to the nation. I see him grave, hair carefully combed, serious, winning, sincere, often beguiling, sometimes employing a wry smile, curiously attractive, a man’s man.
“God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden’s God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam’s God was bad, except he didn’t have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don’t chop people’s heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don’t you forget it.”
The UK paper The Guardian published the full text of his speech here. Print it out, save it, read it. It may be one of the last great acts of writing by one of the world’s leading dramatists. And they are words that should not be forgotten.