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书评「另一半的事情」/The Other Side of the Story - a Book Review on Decision Points by George W. Bush

Updated: Jul 11




此书评由本人撰写,刊发于2011年8月6日《辽宁日报》第T11版“阅读时间”。

This book review I wrote was published in Liaoning Daily on August 6, 2011, on page T11's Reading Time section.

 

Scroll down for the English version


另一半的事情 /The Other Side of the Story


岳军/Jun Yue


小布什最初给我的印象一点儿也不伟大光辉。


2003年时,学校有位年纪很大的美国女外教,有一次聊天,她突然提到刚开始不久的伊拉克战争,于是本来非常平静的瘦弱老太太顿时情绪异常激动。她当时的一句话令我印象极其深刻:“小布什就是个愚蠢的牛仔。 ”从那之后许多年,每当与朋友谈起小布什,我总是乐于引用这句话,来展示美国人对于小布什的看法。这位外教年轻时是个护士,曾在国际红十字会救援队工作,18岁开始便在全世界众多战争、饥荒及贫穷地区做过救护人员及教会义工。她对于战争有如此反应,完全可以理解。

再后来,有许多关于小布什的花边新闻都不断加深着我对于那句话的印象。比如有一次小布什在演讲中竟然犯了个相当低级的英文语法错误,不小心说出“孩子们们”(Childrens)这个令人啼笑皆非的“双复数”词汇。多年前,我在某知名教育机构教书的时候,也很乐于在课堂上搬出这个例子。小布什在担任美国总统的日子里,从未停止过“闹笑话”的脚步,他在APEC会议上讲话,说谢谢各位参加OPEC会议;他把在澳大利亚驻军说成在奥地利驻军;他在白宫发表电视演讲时忘了词,对着摄像机边嘟嘴边挤眉边无奈傻笑。总而言之,直至今日,依然有许多人喜欢用“语法烂”、“没文化”、“智商低”、“不靠谱”来形容这位连任两届的美国总统。


2004年,那位美国外教的工作合同到期,准备返回美国,我去帮她搬家。到她家时,她正在填一张类似于答题卡的东西,我问她那是什么,她告诉我,那是美国大选用的海外缺席选票。即使不在美国,只要事先进行登记,就可以在美国境外参加投票。填完的选票邮寄回投票人在美国常住的州即可。我问她:“你一定不支持小布什,我猜你会投给克里吧? ”她依然很平静地摇摇头说道,“我投小布什。”“可是,小布什就是个愚蠢的牛仔呀? ”她听到后,微笑着,依然很平静,她说一年来她对伊拉克战争有了新的看法,接着开始给我耐心解释起暴政与战争。她觉得战争固然残忍,但暴政比战争更残忍无数倍。


谁说老年人固执呢?这位年过半百的老太太让我试着从另外一个角度来看待小布什。如果我们能够多多少少放下一些成见,试着从另一个从未有过的视角来看待一个人、一个事物的话,我们或许会获得一幅完全不同的景象。这也让我想起了杨德昌多年前拍过的一部电影,叫做《一一》。片中有个角色是个小朋友,叫做简洋洋,他喜欢拿着爸爸给他的相机,拍摄别人的后脑勺,他觉得每个人都看不到自己的脑后勺,每个人看到的东西都与其他人不同。他在影片中有句这样的台词:“爸爸,你看到的我看不到,我看到的你也看不到啊,我怎么知道你在看什么呢?我们是不是只能知道一半的事情?我只能看到前面,看不到后面,这样不就有一半的事情看不到了吗? ”


小布什的亲笔自传《抉择时刻》给我们展示的正是 “另外一半的事情”。他担任美国总统期间做过无数的大小决策,作为普通民众,我们能够从媒体知道的,永远只是决策的结果,这只是“一半的事情”,而这些决策究竟是如何做出来的呢?这是“另一半的事情”。政治或许是复杂的、无情的甚至肮脏的,但其中的主体毕竟还是人,无论如何,每个人都应当有机会为自己所做过的事情添加“脚注”。


在《抉择时刻》中,小布什为其执政期间做出的许多重大决策添加了生动详尽、朴实真诚的“脚注”。这本自传的内容涉及伊拉克战争、阿富汗战争、卡特里娜飓风、华尔街金融风暴、关塔那摩虐俘事件、朝鲜核危机、中美撞机事件等等许多重大事件。他在书中还承认了不少错误,也为一些指责做出辩解。与克林顿和奥巴马相比,他的文字似乎透露出一种独特的单纯。

读完此书,小布什给我的印象依然算不上“伟大光辉”。但至少,我对于那八年间世界风云变化的认知,不再是“一半的事情”了。我也学着不要轻易给一个人、一件事贴上一成不变的标签。


 

The initial impression I had of Bush Jr. was not at all great and glorious.


In 2003, there was a very old American foreign teacher at school, and she suddenly mentioned the war in Iraq, which had just started, and the skinny old lady, who was very calm, became very emotional. I was extremely impressed by her remark at that time: "Bush Jr. is a stupid cowboy. "For many years after that, whenever I talked about Bush Jr. with my friends, I was always happy to quote this phrase to show an American view of Bush Jr. The foreign teacher was a nurse in her youth, worked with the International Red Cross relief team, and, since the age of 18, has been a paramedic and church volunteer in numerous wars, famine, and poverty-stricken areas around the world. It is perfectly understandable that she would react this way to the war.

Later, there were many stories about Bush Jr. that reinforced my impressions of that statement. For example, Bush Jr. once made a rather cheap English grammar mistake in a speech, accidentally saying the funny word "childrens" in the double plural. Years ago, when I was teaching at a well-known educational institution, I was happy to bring up this example in my classes. During his presidency, George W. Bush Jr. never stopped making jokes. He spoke at the APEC meeting and said thank you for attending the OPEC meeting; he said he had troops in Australia instead of Austria; he forgot his words in a televised speech at the White House and giggled helplessly for the cameras while beaming and squeezing his eyebrows. In short, to this day, many critics still like to use "bad grammar", "uneducated", "low IQ", and "unreliable " to describe the two-term president of the United States.


In 2004, when that American foreign teacher's job contract expired and she was ready to return to the United States, I went to help her move. When I arrived at her house, she was filling out something like an answer card, and when I asked her what it was, she told me that it was an overseas absentee ballot for the U.S. election. Even if you are not in the U.S., you can vote outside the U.S. by registering in advance. The completed ballot can be mailed back to the state where the voter usually lives in the United States. I asked her, "You must not support Bush Jr. I guess you'll vote for Kerry? "She still shook her head very calmly and said, "I'm voting for Bush Jr." "But Bush Jr. is a stupid cowboy, right? "She smiled and remained calm as she said she had a new perspective on the war in Iraq over the past year, and then began to patiently explain tyranny and war to me. She felt that while war is cruel, tyranny is countless times crueler than war.


Who says old people are stubborn? This over half-century-old woman made me try to see Bush Jr. from a different perspective. If we can let go of some preconceptions and try to see a person or a thing from a different perspective, we may get a completely different picture. This also reminds me of a film made by Edward Yang many years ago, called "One by One". In the film, there was a character called Jane Yang Yang, who liked to take a camera given to him by his father to photograph the back of other people's heads, thinking that everyone could not see the back of their heads and everyone saw things differently from others. He has this line in the film: "Dad, I can't see what you see, and you can't see what I see, so how do I know what you're looking at? Do we only know half of what's going on? I can only see the front, can not see the back so that half of the things can not be seen? "


Bush Jr.'s autobiography, Decision Points, shows us exactly "the other half of the story". He made countless big and small decisions during his presidency of the United States, as ordinary people, we can know from the media, always only the results of the decision, which is only "half of the thing", and how these decisions are actually made? This is the "other half of the story". Politics may be complicated, ruthless, and even dirty, but the subjects are still human beings, and everyone should have the opportunity to add a "footnote" to what they have done anyway.


In Decision Points, George W. Bush Jr. adds vivid, detailed and honest "footnotes" to many of the major decisions he made during his administration. The autobiography covers the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, Hurricane Katrina, the Wall Street financial meltdown, the Guantanamo prisoner abuse, the North Korean nuclear crisis, the U.S.-China plane crash, and many other major events. In the book, he also admits to a number of mistakes and defends some accusations. Compared with Clinton and Obama, his writing seems to reveal a unique simplicity.


After reading this book, the impression I got from Bush Jr. is still not "great and shining". But at least, my perception of the changes in the world during those eight years is no longer "half of the story". I also learned not to easily label a person or a thing as unchanging.


lingyiban
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