Pinter Denounces US Crimes in Nobel Video LectureDate: 8 December 2005
Harold Pinter (pictured) may have been too ill to travel to Stockholm for this week’s Nobel Prize festivities (See The Goss, 7 Dec 2005), but his weakened condition did not diminish the force of his political fervour (See News, 13 Oct 2005). The activist playwright used his Nobel lecture, which was pre-recorded in London and aired last night (Wednesday 7 December 2005), as arguably his highest-profile political platform to date, issuing a scathing attack on his long-held enemy, the US government.
Although ostensibly a lecture about literature, for which he’s receiving the Nobel Prize this week, during 46 minutes, Pinter – seated in a wheelchair, looking frail, his voice hoarse – spent the majority of the time listing the “systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless” crimes committed around the globe by the US over the past half-century. From Nicaragua to Iraq, he said, “the United States supported, and in many cases engendered, every rightwing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War.”
Pinter did acknowledge a grudging kind of respect for his foe. “I put it to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it maybe, but it is also very clever.” It has, according to Pinter, managed to obfuscate the truth of its international actions over the years by presenting the media, and through them the public, a “tapestry of lies”.
Such propaganda led directly to the invasion of Iraq which Pinter described as “a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating the absolute contempt for the concept of international law”.
Pinter’s native land did not come away untarnished either. Great Britain he said has become no more than the US’ “bleating little lamb”, tagging behind on a leash, “pathetic and supine”. While George Bush’s refusal of ratification means he is currently beyond reach, Pinter challenged the International Criminal Court of Justice to prosecute his ally, Prime Minister Tony Blair, as a mass murderer and war criminal for his part in Iraq.
Pinter’s Nobel Prize win was announced in October just days after his 75th birthday (See News, 13 Oct 2005). The occasion has been nominated for Theatre Event of the Year in Whatsonstage.com’s Theatregoers’ Choice Awards (click here to vote now!). A webcast and the full transcript of yesterday’s lecture can be found on the official Nobel Prize website.
- by Terri Paddock