Thursday, August 06, 2009

Ling and Lee and the Al Gore Religion

by Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 8/6/09

I am sure that every American is delighted that the two journalists were safely removed from the desperation of North Korea’s twilight. If ever there was a realm that time has passed by it is that one. The kind of thing Kafka used to write about: People stuck in the time warp of their youthful glory days when the trends and the stirring movements had well passed and the world had passed them by. Nostalgicos. But there is something about these two reporters that makes them seem more like missionaries than reporters.

And this story is so much like a modern day retelling of the classic story of American missionaries getting “accidentally” caught alone somewhere behind the lines and some high profile American politician or celebrity or both like Bill Clinton is sent out to save them – isn’t this Jesse Jackson’s job? – out there in the Godless realm of the Foreign Devil, raising the celebrity’s profile and the profile of the whatever, esoteric, Christian cause that no one has ever heard of before but everybody knows all about now.

In the oldest days they used to show them – the missionaries - being boiled in a big black pot by natives but that would of course be excruciatingly bad journalistic form today. You will however be shocked to know that these savages traffic women and children and worship elephants and snakes and fight with roosters. There couldn’t be a philosophically more remote hinterland than North Korea, land of the Dear Leader, that putz, Kim Il Sung II, to contrast the new enlightenment.

But if these incredibly naïve young people are journalists how come we’ve never heard of them before? Missionaries boiled in the pot gave martyrs to the cause and profited the movement, but why would a journalistic enterprise expose such star-struck, devoted amateurs to such a life-threatening situation? And what is Al Gore doing in the picture? He is there because Ling and Lee are journalists for the Al Gore Religion.

The young women are apparently reporters for Current TV, a new vehicle for Al Gore. Much has been written lately about environmentalism as a kind of devotion, or religion, or a cult, or a transcendent detachment. If so, Al Gore is its self-appointed Perfect Master. The headlines on Current TV today are: Rewarding Farmers to Sequester Carbon; In Climate Fright, a Time for Civil Disobedience?; This Morning: the Dawning of Hope and Truth for our Dearest Mother, the Earth and this one with periods to emphasis the blunt truth talk of the avatar: Al Gore. Interviewed. By You and Kevin Rose: Announcing Digg Dialogg with Al Gore. On the current issue there are seven pictures of Al Gore on the front page.

This is the language of the Maharishi. The journalists who write for it sound like missionaries trying to be hip. Al Gore is the new Bhagwan. No doubt there are summer camps and missionary responsibilities. Myself, I long for the real thing. I long for the days when the Hare Khrishnas used to give out cookies in airports. Back in the Sixties and Seventies. So does Kim Il II. So does Al Gore.