West Wing
Dead Irish Writers

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Drinks are being poured for Toby and John at the bar they've gone to. Toby: "I think there's something to be said for giving McGann credibility by inviting him to the White House. It strengthens his hand in dealing with the more violent members of his own party." Marbury: "Degrees of violent." Toby: "We also think if we legitimize him, the Protestants will wake up and accept they've got to negotiate with somebody." Marbury: "Toby, you were the author, were you not, of the President's speech at the General Assembly?" Well, at least someone other than me seems to remember that. Toby hedges: "There were many authors." Marbury: "Of which you were one. Two days ago, the IRA formally backed out of its promise to put its weapons beyond use as agreed to in the Good Friday Peace Accord. True/false: until it disarms, the IRA and its political representatives in Sinn Féin are a terrorist group?" Toby: "True." Marbury: "When did it become policy of the United States to negotiate with terrorists?" Dear God, this show is just one endless provocation to me. I'll just quote activist scholar Eqbal Ahmad: "The terrorist of yesterday is the hero of today, and the hero of yesterday becomes the terrorist of today." My God, ever heard of the Irgun? The Stern Gang? Deir Yassin? Toby replies, "We've had Arafat here, John." Oh, that's rich, too. Here's another quote: "Neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat." You know who wrote that? Yitzhak Shamir. Somehow both he and Begin were both sufficiently rehabilitated to find a warm welcome in Washington. Goddammit, I'm so fed up with this hypocritical, bigoted, historically ignorant crap. I'd love to see Aaron Sorkin honestly address, just as an example, the history and reality of Israeli and/or Jewish terrorism. (Yeah, I'll hold my breath.) He should at least read up on it, for God's sake, and stop writing such ignorant, offensive storylines. "See the whole board," indeed. This is not what we need at this time in history. He's got an audience of twenty or thirty million people. It matters whether or not he propagates nonsense and ignorance. You can't claim to raise the level of debate and purport to educate people when it suits you, and then hide behind "we're just doing our little stories and lame jokes" when it gets complicated. Sorry, you can't have it both ways.

In response to Toby's comment about Arafat, John snipes, "And my heavens, isn't that paying bloody dividends!" Toby: "It wasn't worth trying?" John: "You're making the mistake of youth." Toby: "The President's not a kid." John: "Your country is. You're involving yourself in a centuries-old conflict without sufficient regard for history. Listen to the warning of old friends. It was Kipling who warned to expect 'the blame of those ye better, and the hate of those ye guard.'" Toby: "And wasn't it James Joyce who said, 'History is a nightmare from which I'm trying to awake'?" Much like me and these storylines. Marbury thinks and serves up: "Yes, but it was your own great Irish master, Eugene O'Neill, who said, 'There is no present or future, only the past happening over and over again -- now.'" And how. I'm with O'Neill. Toby asks, "You're saying we should butt out of Ireland until we know what we're doing?" Marbury: "I'm saying Brendan McGann cannot come to the White House." Toby sighs and says, "Speaking of dead Irish writers...." (Well, Joyce, anyway, since Kipling was born in Bombay -- under British rule -- and lived in Britain.) Marbury: "Yes, another drink." 'Cause, you know, that's how those Irish writers end up dead; they drink themselves into the grave. I can't imagine how tiresome I would find it to be Irish and to have my nationality so insistently linked in the minds of North Americans with nothing but alcohol and terrorism. Oh yeah, and leprechauns. (Well, actually, given my experiences in the Muslim community, maybe I do have a wee inkling.)

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