Every nation has its inventors. No; make it illustrious sons. (Because there are few best ratchet straps.) Look at this checklist: Alfred Nobel was an illustrious son. While his fellow Swedish natives were busy catching fishes in the North Seas, he was engaged in harnessing the destructive power of the atom. The Japanese residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War know the rest of the story.Italy too has her illustrious son. At a time when the Catholic Church believed that the earth (supposedly supported by an elephant or a giant turtle) didn't move, Galileo Galilei came with his telescope to rubbish the claim. He was condemned to die as a heretic when he dared say; "Essipur muove."
Translation: "the earth moves." Germany has its illustrious son. When the pope was busy trying to prevent the layman from reading the Bible, Johannes Guttenberg came on stage and invented the movable printing press, which helped in the printing and distribution of the holy book. Johannes, however, got away free, but not William Tyndale, the Bible translator, who ended up with the Bible, tied on his chest in a literal lake of fire.Then there was Michael Faraday, the illustrious son of England who vanished darkness forever from civilized climes with the invention of electricity. But like many others before him, his invention killed him. They were great inventors all the same#8212;illustrious sons of great lands.Yet, there is a not so great nation, Prussia. Ever heard of the name? So that the country is not eternally remembered as a center stage for the Great War, enter Mr. Fahrenheit. So that you would know at what degree to heat your soup or the safe time of the year to row your boat across the frigid waters of the Arctic, he invented the mercurial thermometer. Thank Heavens! We now know that at its core, the sun is about 27,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Just in case you can't figure out what that means, try exploding 100 billion hydrogen bombs every second. Or detonate 100, 000 million megatons of TNT per second. Got the point?When Mr. Fahrenheit invented his thermometer, however, he didn't dream that someday the tallest buildings in America would be engulfed in an inferno and that his innocent instrument would be on hand to measure the temperature.
Not actually that the firemen came to the burning World Trade Center on 9/11 with literal thermometers. But the conflagration has spawned a movie "Fahrenheit 911" which swept the 57th edition of the #8216;Festival de Cannes'#8212;the world's biggest film festival#8212;earning the winner Michael Moore the loudest standing ovation at Cannes in the last 25 years. In his acceptance speech, the movie star said among other things: ". . . many people want the truth and many want to put it in the closet. . . . " Well said Mr. Moore. But what is truth? That was the same old question thrown to Jesus during his trial by a cynical Pontius Pilate. Pity; he didn't wait for an answer. Deduction: Truth is relative.Let us exit Jerusalem and come back to Cannes in Southern France. Our movie winner is all smiles before a battery of cameras in the midst of the ovation at the end of his speech. And they slap his back. And they give him a fat check.
He has won Round One. But here the story ends. Because there are suddenly no distributors for his movie in America until now. The reason is in the theme of the movie: an attack of George Bush's American foreign policy before and after 9/11. Why would the movie get distributors? Who doesn't want to win an election? Thank God, the pope isn't in charge in America. Otherwise the movie icon would have gone the way of William Tyndale.But before "Fahrenheit 911," I had written CHASING SHADOWS1 to warn that all those fighting the war on terror are living in the land of Prester John. That wonderland does not exist. It lives only in the mind of the dreamers. Not real dreamers like the Biblical Joseph. But dreamers like Don Quixote. Or the natives of Sir Thomas More's "Utopia." Who was that author who wrote the book, "Erewhon"? Never mind the name though. Just try re-arranging the anagram beginning with the last letter. What do you get? #8216;No Where.'In the end, the real winners in this war against terror will not be a president or a war general.Neither will it be the movie star in Cannes Southern France, nor a Pulitzer winner in America or the winner of the Booker in London giving acceptance speeches amidst a thundering applause.But the actual winners of Round Two will be those faceless #8216;terrorists' in caves trying to draw attention to the injustice and oppression in this world. The sad part is that when terrorists win, there are no ovations. No acceptance speeches. No back slaps. No prize monies. No Fahrenheit thermometers. But only funeral parlors. The pallbearers. Wailing women. And good-byes. ARTHUR ZULU is an editor, book reviewer, and the author of the controversial book, CHASING SHADOWS! (A book that reveals the terrorists' master plan to finally set the world on fire.)