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On Hugo Chávez, Sarah Palin and other politicans who play on local fears.
CATALONIA TODAY – SECTION: LONG-TERM RESIDENT - ARTICLE ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTEEN
By concidence, the other day the news channel 3/24 followed up an item on the loudmouthed US vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin with one on the equally loudmouthed Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, thus unexpectedly revealing them to be (cosmetic differences notwithstanding) the spitting images of each other.
Palin outspokenly opposed abortion (even for rape victims) while supporting the gun lobby to the hilt, in the presumable belief that people have the right to make it out of even the most reluctant womb so as to be shot at with impunity. Chávez, for his part, was shown bawling his head off about an apparent American plot against his regime for which there is so little evidence he can't even charge his own suspects.
According to the Slovene thinker Slavoj Zizek in his latest book ('Violence', 2008), such examples of bluff flim-flam are becoming increasingly common around the world, as politicians try to increase popularity for a profession now drained of any serious ideological content - their only genuine post-Cold-War role, according to Zizek, being that of mere caretakers - by trumping up spurious threats that create a simulacrum of drama and passion. For this to work, all they have to do is take local prejudices into account. If for Palin, for instance, it's abortionists that do the trick and for Chávez, yankee spies, then for for Russia's Putin, it's NATO and the Chechens; for Italy's Berlusconi, it's Italian Gypsies; and for Spain's Mariano Rajoy (and countless other Castilian politicos on both 'right' and 'left') it's (usually) the Catalans. And when it isn't, as any long-term resident knows, it's (usually) the Basques. Round and round, year after predictable year, ad nauseam. Until, of course, the fat lady finally sings, and I don't mean Montserrat Caballé.