Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Larry Everest: Feckless speaker

Speaking of crappy radio, KUOW (Seattle's NPR station) is now broadcasting a speech by Larry Everest, who has an incredibly irritating speaking style, rather reminiscent of the vegetarian hippie Waterfall Jr. on the Futurama episode The Problem with Popplers. He has a high-pitched, nasal voice; his speech cadences oscillate between overwrought hectoring, sarcastic whining, and stiffly rhythmic droning; and he presents his material in a way that is practically guaranteed to preach only to the choir --- he started hitting the inflammatory notes about imperialism and capitalism right up front, gestures that stroke the sensibilities of people who already completely agree with him, but are unlikely to win over anyone.

He's also rather sloppy with his rhetoric; for example, early in the speech, he said: "The war in Iraq was not about finding weapons of mass destruction; it was about making sure that America had more weapons of mass destruction than anybody else." Uh, America has more weapons of mass destruction than anybody else, and will for the foreseeable future. Our military supremacy over the rest of the world hasn't been in doubt for a decade and a half. Maintaining military supremacy was not the motivation for the war. To suggest such a thing is nonsense --- and I mean that literally: it just does not make any sense. It's like suggesting that Arnold Schwarzenegger ran for governor of California because he wanted really big muscles. But this sort of thing strokes the right spots for a certain kind of listener.

More excerpts from his speech: "...a war on terror that is a war of terror... globalization at gunpoint... the shadow war going on behind the scenes that people don't understand... the United States confronted the Soviet Union, a nuclear power, for thirty years, it was a huge impediment to United States power..." (Uh, Larry, the Soviet Union was deeply evil.) "...the Right wants to change the dime, instead of FDR facing left, they want Reagan facing right... gay marriage isn't just an issue in its own right, it's a wedge issue to enforce patriarchy... people say we can't leave Iraq, we can't just leave. Why not?" (audience clapping) "...I'm not for the Shia clerics, don't get me wrong... no good can come from this occupation..." (Uh, Larry, there are good reasons to fear what will happen if we leave Iraq; you may disagree, but it is not prima facie ludicrous to believe we should stay.) "...terrorizing people, putting wire around whole villages..."

The thing is, I agree that the Iraq war was about building an American empire (hardly a controversial assertion among those in the know), and I still find Everest annoying. After about fifteen minutes I had to turn it off.

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