From the World
September Wed 23, 2009
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Everybody is here in New York City this week. Everybody who matters, and everybody who think they matter are here. Those who do not matter are never here. It was once said about the Plaza Hotel in Fifth Avenue and Central Park (when it was owned by Americans instead of Saudi Arabians as it is now) that “nothing unimportant ever happens at The Plaza.” This applies to Manhattan: nothing unimportant ever happens here.” If it is unimportant, if it doesn’t matter, it is not happening here.
The occasion is the General Assembly of the United Nations. This is the first General Assembly of the Obama era. Everybody that matters or wants to matter is here. It’s like a huge Broadway show. It’s more spectacular than The Lion King or Phantom of the Opera, two shows that seem to have been here during all the years that matter in the history of modernity. This General Assembly is more spectacular. From Midtown to Wall Street limousines carrying important and would-be important people dart from place to place preceded by a police escort and followed by black SUV’s presumably filled with people with terrible weapons protecting them as they move around town for secret meetings.
And all of this happens during a period of security unmatched since the days of September 11, 2001. We are under a terrorist threat of unknown dimensions. It is a threat to commuter trains and subways and ships. Three individuals presumably connected to the threat have been arrested but they have not been charged with terrorism. No one know why but they have only been charged with “disturbing the peace,” something that happens all the time here. The terrorist plot is presumably “still under investigation.” In any case, this makes the presence this week of the important and would-be important more dramatic.
The “American People” are presumably watching all of this on cable-TV news shows. Actually it seems sometimes that there is only one show, since they all appear to show the same scenes and treat the same subjects in reports prepared by professional Internet experts hired to search and destroy political enemies. It was once thought that the Internet would expand the role of the cable news programs. The truth is the other way around: the cable news stations have become extensions of the Internet battles between political enemies.
As the “American People” watch all of this from places that do not matter, only three figures stand out as the super-stars of this spectacle. The first is President Barack Hussein Obama, which is not surprising, since this is his era. The second one is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. (If you can correctly pronounce his name fast you might be called by the cable news networks to appear on their show for three minutes or so as an advisor.) And the third is Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. He is important because he knows how to be greeted by Obama and give him books to read. (At the last General Assembly Meeting, Chavez became the first man to ever cross himself with the sign of the cross of Jesus while addressing the nations of the world. He was trying to protect himself from the demons he detected accompanying President George W. Bush. No one had done this before, not even any of the three Popes that have addressed the UN General Assembly.) These are the only three persons of interest to the “American People” (defined as those whose names can be pronounced by those who speak only the English language).
At the end of the week the show moves to, of all places, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the meeting of the G-8. But that is not here in New York, so it doesn’t really matter, and the American People will return to watch TV shows in which celebrities disclose their most intimate secrets. I will return to practice how to say Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rapidly.
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