Gender neutral monologue selection from David Hare’s Stuff Happens
Age Range: 18+
Brit in New York ‘America changed.’ That’s what we’re told. ‘On September 11th everything changed.’ ‘If you’re not American, you can’t understand.’
The infantile psychobabble of popular culture is grafted opportunistically onto America’s politics. The language of childish entitlement becomes the lethal rhetoric of global wealth and privilege.
Asked how you are as President, on the first day of a war which will kill up to a hundred thousand people: ‘I feel good’.
I was in Saks Fifth Avenue the morning they bombed Baghdad. ‘Isn’t it wonderful?’ says the saleswoman. ‘At last we’re hitting back.’ ‘Yes,’ I reply, ‘at the wrong people. Somebody steals your handbag, so you kill their second cousin, on the grounds they live close. Explain to me,’ I say, ‘Saudi Arabia is financing Al Qaeda. Iran, Lebanon and Syria are known to shelter terrorists. North Korea is developing a nuclear weapons programme. All these you leave alone. No, you go to war with the one place in the region admitted to have no connection with terrorism.’ ‘You’re not American,’ says the saleswoman. ‘You don’t understand.’
Oh, a question, then. If ‘You’re not American. You don’t understand’ is the new dispensation, then why not ‘You’re not Chechen’? Are the Chechens also now licensed? Are Basques? Theatres, restaurants, public squares? Do Israeli milk-bars filled with women and children become fair game on the grounds that ‘You don’t understand. We’re Palestinian, we’re Chechen, we’re Irish, we’re Basque’? If the principle of international conduct is now to be that you may go against anyone you like on the grounds that you’ve been hurt by somebody else, does that apply to everyone? Or just to America?
On September 11th, America changed. Yes. It got much stupider.
This monologue is originally published in Stuff Happens by David Hare, Faber and Faber, 2004.