This Year, Gimme a Reason
A colleague whose office is next door strolled past talking to someone, both of them engaged in current events dribble drabble when I heard her say something along the lines of ". . .that Sarkozy, just who does he think he is?"
Without looking up I quipped, "He's Ahmedinejad with a French accent!" I quip a lot, usually more miss than hit, but this one got a laugh and a "Yes, you're absolutely right," as she "got it"; it being that I see Sarkozy as a political feather weight trying to shoe horn himself into a heavier class by raking small piles of muck here and there in lieu of generating any ideas of substance.
I was about to get back to my non-work when all a'sudden Super Muslim, a Pakistani teacher colleague with a UK passport, a thick fundo-Mooslem beard and an affected posh British accent overheard my quip and took this politically tainted one liner as an opportunity to invite himself into my office to sucker me into listening to yet another one of his "America the Great Satan" diatribes.
Usually I allow my mind to wander to other more pleasant and happier worlds while I mouth "yes, uh-huh, hmm, I see, right, you got a point, etc" in order to side step coming down against anti-American vitriol, which is rampant 'round here and maybe justifiably so--but speaking out against anti-American vitriol in this region might get you labeled a Zionist and you don't want that. It is not just Dubya who's got the "you are either fer us" or "ag'in us" world view.
I also usually disengage because I'm too lazy to engage the rhetorically challenged--unless I'm getting paid to do so. In that case, I will take a red pen to a freshman comp essay where I will I draw arrows that lead off to a margin that has comments from me like "hasty generalization" or "false analogy" or "quote source" It's hard to do that sort of thing while listening to some asshole rant about what a shitty world this is because of America.
But I'd had a couple of bad days. I was in a bitchy mood. There'd been all this cooking for the holidays. My Ipod had just been run through the washing machine and its carcass is now decomposing on some landfill. A new printer we'd bought two weeks ago was misfeeding A4 paper and when we took it back to get a replacement, the shop where we'd bought it told us that it had to go to the dealer for repairs, come back in two weeks. Shit like that just piling up and putting me on edge.
So this time when the bearded one started quoting some Time Magazine statistics about how functioning illiterate Americans are supposed to be, citing some test where high school students were asked to point out countries on a map and couldn't, and that this illiteracy is why Americans are now in Iraq and Afghanistan murdering innocent Muslim babies, I dropped my guard and responded.
"Oh as if that's any worse, " I said, "than 95% of the Arab world believing that the Washington Post reported how on the night before September 11, 3,000 Jews who worked at the World Trade Center were telephoned and told to skip work the next day."
My comment gave the bearded one pause, an uncomfortable pause because of course he is in that 95% and I had just called him a moron.
Later that day, I was riding round town half listening to the BBC when whatever story I wasn't listening to was interrupted by a grave announcer who said that Bhutto had just been assassinated.
Oh bloody hell.
Bhutto was a crook and a despot within her own political party--she even initially approved of the Taleban government allowing them to set up an embassy in Pakistan while she was in power. I don't think that if she had been elected to take charge in Pakistan, that Al Qaeda's days would have been numbered and that suicide bombings would have suddenly lost their appeal.
But for better or worse, she was a choice, and a reasonable one at that in her country's upcoming election. And having a reasonable choice is the thing. It's really all we've got to defend ourselves against conspiracy theory assholes whose words, when put into action, convince young men that strapping TNT to their bodies and blowing themselves and a bunch of other people into kingdom come is a viable career move.
My hope for the new year is that her murder will create a backlash, that throughout Pakistan reasonable, progressive secularists will now be mad as hell and will refuse to take it anymore, that they will choose a reasonable leader who will resolve to bring unreasonable Jihadis to their knees, and that this reasonable movement will grow legs and spread into Iraq where a people's power movement will unite one and all and that reasonable choices other than blowing yourself up will win the day. Then the US Army can go home and Blackwater and Triple Canopy can go bankrupt.
Then maybe asshole conspiracy theorists will no longer waste my time at work because I'm perfectly capable of finding ways to waste my own office hours.