In America's seventh largest city, my editors do their best to make sure I get my money's worth. In one section, called "Briefs", they assemble little tidbits of information from around the world. Although not hot stories right now, they put the reader "on alert"
about the big developments that are just around the corner. It's sort of like "coming attractions" at the movies.
These reports are just one column wide and only two or three paragraphs long. A few Sundays ago, two such "briefs" appeared, one on top of the other. One was about Pakistan and the other Iran.
The one about Pakistan simply told about how one of our haughtily guided javelins had gone gaflooey and killed two people in a hut. It said it was a young woman and her small daughter. Their names were not given.
The other one was about injustice. A women and her lover had murdered her husband and she had been sentenced to death by stoning. Their names were not given either, nor the name of the poor slob they had done in.
Something bothered me about these two little, seemingly innocent, entries; and I had to put down the paper. I've been thinking about it ever since.
Josef Stalin was Saddam's hero...why does an errant predator make me think of Stalin...he said a single murder was a tragedy but a million dead was just a statistic....
Unlinked and unrelated, about events far, far away; nonetheless the briefs spoke to me of my country, my people, and our values. In neither article, it seemed, did the victims matter to the writer; nor was the reader expected to care. They were incidental to what was really important- the big story that was still to come.
"Brief" number one was there because it was a milestone in our escalating violations of Pakistani territory. They have the bomb. That's why its important. We're playing a very dangerous game. The play is to see just how far we can push our pieces before we land on "oops". The two victims were irrelevant, like ants that had wandered onto the board. A nameless mother and daughter only warranted a "brief" because this might lead to a big story, real blood, if the forlorn Pakistanis get an idea that the lives of their people are not as worthless as we think.
... hey Ronnie, how do you feel about giving them a muslim bomb now...its was cool when they were sending home commies in boxes and bags.... but is it still cool now...you gave those lunatics the bomb Ronnie.... its our boys now....is it still so cool now...those Soviets kids were only symbols anyway not real boys like the beaver.....their mothers couldn't even bury them as heroes...before they zipped up the bag do you think somebody closed their gaping blue eyes...did you know commies have blue eyes like Norma Jean...did somebody comb their hair.....their government said they didn't even exist....it was cool when they were just commies.....when a mother buries a statistic is the box lighter.....is it still cool now Ronnie
The story about the Iranian criminal justice system is a little bit more complicated. At first, I thought it was a "plant"; some clever operative in our shadow government trying to gin up another war. Now I think that's only part of it because such allusions to the Muslim criminal justice system, once unheard of in our media, have been commonplace for a generation. We don't have to gin-up anything, there is a built in and eager audience for these types of cultural attacks. It isn't just Christian fanatics that go into a state of rapture when visions of religious Armageddon appear; it's not just the cold blooded clear-eyed credentialed class acting in the interest of the state, but that strange bedfellow of Neo-Conservatives and Evangelicals, the liberal American feminist.
While all foreign policy must be said to be in our self-interest, not every form of imperialism is the same. It isn't always plunder. It isn't always a game of chess against clever and dangerous opponents. Often, we engage in cultural imperialism. The very same feminists who may have intelligent compunctions about the role of religious missionaries in the Muslim world, wish for an end to war, and oppose the ravaging effects of globalization in the Third World; these same good hearted ladies stand allied with the Bible thumpers and masters of the universe because their desire to intervene in the Muslim World may advance women's rights.
When we see these "briefs" in our papers designed to escalate our hysteria towards Muslim society, we would be making a very serious mistake if we thought they are only designed to appeal to far right-wing elements eager to strut about and drop bombs or convert the heathen. Among those leading the charge will be "left" leaning liberal women. This pattern is easily documented. Before the first Gulf War, can't you remember the pious concerns about the women of Kuwait? Not only liberation, not only democracy, to Kuwait, if you will allow us to invade, we shall also bring women's rights. Prior to our "intervention" in Afghanistan, how many stories about Taliban cruelty towards women did we hear? (and still do) The acid in the face? The public floggings?
.... when they were killing commies they weren't abusing women were they....how are those Kuwaiti gals doing anyway.....haven't seen any election results from there in awhile...did you see those pictures from iraq....the woman with the ink stains on her finger....wasn't that moving.....just a simple ink stain but it means so much....an inkblot.....like a national rorschact test.....a thirty thousand casualty trillion dollar rorschact test......but it was so moving and they made those sounds with their tongues when they voted..............