Saturday, November 22, 2003

When Art Imitates Life
"It's the trouble with these times, Lotty. We don't know who to trust. But an Attorney General who thinks that calico cats are a sign of the devil doesn't inspire me with greater confidence than I have in my own judgment."
The quote is from V.I Warshawski, the protagonist in several novels by Chicago's Sara Paretsky. The judgment is in the determination of whether or not an Egyptian boy is a terrorist. In this column, Ms. Paretsky discusses how her growing fears of our government's recent actions crept into Blacklist, her latest novel, in which Warshawski comes up against the patriot act.
When I began writing Blacklist in the summer of 2001, I had decided to use the publishing industry as the backdrop for my novel. Part of the trigger for the novel was the claim by some neo-cons that Joseph McCarthy was an American hero who had been unfairly hounded by the left. I have friends and family whose lives McCarthy and the Dies Committee made miserable and I was alarmed by this effort to rewrite a sordid chapter in our history.

As I got into the book, the events of the present began scaring me even more than the past. Beyond my immediate fear of terrorism, I saw *the ways in which the administration, ably assisted by Fox and CNN, shut off any meaningful dissent. What would happen to me, I worried, if my opposition to everything my government is now doing – from outlawing abortion and contraception, to destroying drinkable water – was defined as terrorism? What would I do if they arrested me on some trumped-up charge, such as looking at foreign language pages on the Internet? Even now, the government is holding at least two U.S. citizens without charging them, and without allowing them any access to a lawyer.

*Whew - it isn't just me. I guess we should take some comfort in the fact that the book was published.

You can get Blacklist here.


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