Saturday, April 29, 2006
*Citizens of the world: you MUST sing Chicago's "You're the inspiration" under your breath whenever you find yourself gazing lovingly at a picture of the Turkmenbashi! It is literally the only way to quiet down the pitter-pattering of your heart! Sing with me: "You're the meaning in my life, you're the inspiration, you bring feeling to my life, you're the inspiration, wanna have you near me, I wanna have you hear me sayin', no one needs you more than I need you."
Isn't that better?
In this week's issue of the New Yorker (the one with Donald Rumsfeld in the doghouse on the cover), David Remnick writes about the former Soviet state of Turkmenistan. The politics of this country are so over-the-top, that it isn't difficult to read this piece in the "Talk of the Town" section as a satire on greater world politics.
Alas, it is all too real.
So, Saparamurat Niyazov, the autocratic president of the country, has anointed himself "Turkmenbashi"--"Leader of all Turkmen." That Niyazov is an egomaniac is a gross understatement, as the article reveals: "Doctors there now take an oath not Hippocrates but to Turkmenbashi; the month of January is now called Turkemnbashi; and in the capital, Ashgabat, there is, atop the Arch of Neutrality, a two-hundred-and-fifty-foot gold statue of Turkmenbashi that, like George Hamilton, automatically rotates to face the sun."
Niyazov has written the Ruhnama, "a book that is meant to be a spiritual guide, a celebration of the Leader, and a newly contrived history of the Turkmen people." The book is displayed alongside the Qu'ran in the nation's mosques. It is required reading, makes up a large part of the Turkmen curriculum from primary school to university, and knowledge of it is required to pass the nation's driving test. Which is a relief, seeing that Niyazov believes anyone who reads the book three times will surely go to heaven.
Clearly, he has his people's best interest in mind.
I am, however, proud to say that, in spite of all this, our president still takes the crown at the egotistical, self-centered and all-around stupid world leaders pageant.