We take exception to the description of Vonnegut as “one of the greatest living US writers,” but report his words nonetheless. From The Australian, :
ONE of the greatest living US writers has praised terrorists as “very brave people” and used drug culture slang to describe the “amazing high” suicide bombers must feel before blowing themselves up.
Kurt Vonnegut, author of the 1969 anti-war classic Slaughterhouse Five, made the provocative remarks during an interview in New York for his new book, Man Without a Country, a collection of writings critical of US President George W. Bush.
Vonnegut, 83, has been a strong opponent of Mr Bush and the US-led war in Iraq, but until now has stopped short of defending terrorism.
But in discussing his views with The Weekend Australian, Vonnegut said it was “sweet and honourable” to die for what you believe in, and rejected the idea that terrorists were motivated by twisted religious beliefs.
“They are dying for their own self-respect,” he said. “It’s a terrible thing to deprive someone of their self-respect. It’s like your culture is nothing, your race is nothing, you’re nothing.”
Asked if he thought of terrorists as soldiers, Vonnegut, a decorated World War II veteran, said: “I regard them as very brave people, yes.”
He equated the actions of suicide bombers with US president Harry Truman’s 1945 decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
On the Iraq war, he said: “What George Bush and his gang did not realise was that people fight back.”
Vonnegut suggested suicide bombers must feel an “amazing high”. He said: “You would know death is going to be painless, so the anticipation – it must be an amazing high.”
Vonnegut’s comments are sharply at odds with his reputation as a peace activist and his distinguished war service. He served in the US 106th Division and was captured by German forces at the Battle of the Bulge.
…Vonnegut’s latest comments are likely to make many people wonder if old age has finally caught up with a grand old man of American letters.