I can understand the argument that Khalid Sheik Mohammed should be tried in a civilian court. I can even understand that this should be done as part of an overall project for returning to a criminal-prosecution model instead if a war model in our conflict with al Quaeda. But for the White House to say, as it has done now more than once, that the defendant will be convicted, and then executed, is the worst of all possible strategies. If the point here is to assure that Mohammed has his day in court and a chance to defend himself, then saying beforehand that conviction is expected transforms the entire enterprise into a show trial that will serve as a propaganda coup for America's enemies, and alienate those who, though supporting America, believe the criminal-trial method more fair and effective. (True, convictions were a foregone conclusion at the Nuremburg trials--a fact Robert Jackson addressed in his opening statement--but this trial isn't being advanced on that precedent. This is a simple criminal trial rather than an international reckoning.)
I just cannot imagine what the administration is thinking by this. Are they trying to allay the criticism if their criminal-trial strategy by assuring people not to worry because it won't be a fair trial anyway? And if it isn't going to be a fair trial, what possible advantage is there to this than to indefinite detentions or military tribunals?
Let me live in Louisiana Where the winding bayous flow, Where mocking birds sing all night long And the wild azaleas grow; Where magnolia blooms are ghostly white When the moon above rides high and bright, Where voices are crooning with delight In lovely Louisiana.
Let me hear the forest singing To the melody of years, As it sang to hearts of long ago In their laughter and their tears; Where stately pines and sycamore And age-old oaks on the sandy shore Will whisper their secrets evermore In lovely Louisiana.
Where the wild geese furl their wings Near the trapper's hut in the trembling marsh And the upland's crystal springs; Where faithful souls of a sturdy race Still pray to God through His loving grace. In the whole wide world I have found no place Like lovely Louisiana.
J.D. Salinger has died. This is probably very sad for a certain segment of the population, but I must admit I've hated Catcher In The Rye for many years. Its atmosphere of alienation and juvenile self-righteousness--everyone but Holden is a "phony," don't you know--may be brilliant as a documentary device, but as art, it seems to me to preserve some of the worst characteristics the human mind can reflect. It's the perfect novel for the unaccomplished loner who papers over his lack of genuine self-esteem by convincing himself that the world is just too off kilter to understand him and too inhumane for him to understand in turn. What he really needs is to accomplish something; instead, he finds solace in the embrace of Holden Caulfield, who tells him that there's something noble about his state. He finds an excuse to relish his lack of a real self. Catcher is one of those books that diagnoses without proposing any cure, but worse: it encourages the reader to boast of his sores, if not to the world, at least to himself.
Update: Shawn Klein writes,
I think you nailed Catcher in the Rye in your post. At the same time, I still love it, if only because of the place it held for me when I was a young teenager. Reading it as a somewhat geeky 13 year old, I thought Holden was cool, I wanted to be like him. He seemed to know what was up. At 17 or 18, I could identify with his alienation and that feeling of living in world filled with bullshit. By the time I reread it later in or after college, I looked back at it and thought, "stop your fucking whining and get off your ass". I would think an adult who still admires Holden is seriously disturbed. But I think Salinger captures the experience of adolescence perfectly: that confused, even aimless, waiting for adulthood that seems to be a feature of the extended adolescence in which many lived and that to often felt like it will drive one insane.
I'm not sure, however, I agree that it encourages the reader to boast of his sores and flaws. Holden loses himself instead of achieving autonomy and adulthood, so I read it as more a cautionary tale. Looking back, I think I picked up on that even as young teenager. I wanted to be like Holden in certain respects, but I also sense that something goes terribly wrong in Holden's life. Salinger, as you say, does not propose a cure or even an explanation of what goes wrong (and thinking about some of his other work, that is a pattern of his) I guess I'm okay with that. Maybe I'm more comfortable with the naturalism in this instance, or maybe I'm just trying to rationalize an experience I relished as a kid but now would reject now?