Liz’s Weekly Poetry Series: 9/11, Arab Fall, And A Poem For Asmaa Mahfouz
Global Cop or National Hermit. Either shape the world for our safety and benefit, or withdraw and let the evil shadow from the East darken the earth. That is the choice, America. Or at least lots of people seem to see it that way.
I really tried to not write a 9/11 post, but three days later, here it is.
Eleven years ago we Americans had an opportunity to step back from the psychic blow we took that blue-skied Tuesday and really look at the forces that shape anti-American sentiment in other parts of the world, especially the Mideast.
Instead the shock of attack jarred us from our comfort and brought us raging onto the global stage, willing to consume whatever crudely-patched narratives were assembled to goad our blood and treasure toward feeding that dark impulse for revenge, with two wars of occupation.
That impulse still works.
As protests of varying severity spread to 11 countries (hyped by media?), the opportunity to understand the anger is of course being drowned out by the frenzy of froth spittled from Romney’s angry white man campaign. It’s sad.
And it’s infectious. Even people I usually respect get caught up in it, and say stuff like this on twitter about the unrest in Cairo:
I’m taking my time machine so I can get a first hand look at the middle ages. I’m setting the clock for yesterday in Cairo.
The Arab Spring Sprung in Egypt after Tunisia, and as it was first sputtering, the protesters were getting the corporate media framing of angry arab mobs acting savagely. For example, there were reports of protesters looting museums, which later came out as Mubarak regime thugs trying to delegitimize the popular protests. Whether US corporate media were dupes or compliant instruments of state power in how they went with those reports, you can decide for yourself.
As the first shoots of the Arab Spring were trying to spring up, I wrote this angry post in response to the waffling of a President who didn’t seem to want to lose a faithful authoritarian friend of America.
Now it’s Arab Fall, meaning autocrats have fallen (sometimes sodomized and executed), and in those power vacuums, surprise! It’s still volatile.
Weird, deja vu. I’m again watching Rachel Maddow talking about conspiracy theories.
Apparently, Paul Ryan was at a speaking event with a guy who bills himself to the religious right as a “former terrorist”, Kamal Saleem.
Saleem, whose real name is Khodor Shami, claims that he was Muslim Brotherhood operative who “came to the United States of America…to destroy this country,” saying that he crossed the Canadian border and “brought weapon caches right through cities.” Somewhere along the way he converted, got a job at Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, and became the favorite ex-Muslim of the Religious Right. As a result, he says his life is constantly in danger, and he is being pursued by foreign agents.
That seriously happened. And there’s totally video of it, somewhere, on the web.
This dovetails nicely with how lately, like in the last 48 hours, I’ve nearly come to Jesus, seeing clearly the error of my principled harping against Obama. Romney and Ryan are simply that awful, and there’s even a rash of Republicans who agree. The polls in swing states show the Muslim/Socialist/Apologist for America pulling ahead as we close in on October, November.
Damn, see how that happens? Now I’m the asshole talking domestic politics as our sovereign property is being attacked by the ubiquitous angry arab mob we’ll never be bothered enough to understand.
Let’s just kill them and call them militants until proven otherwise.
After all, when bravado meets bravado, and the embarrassment of a diplomat who played a direct role in the NATO Libya coup gets killed, it’s not even a question. Revenge.
As the campaigns and the raging world depresses everyone, it might be kind of nice to remember how Asmaa Mahfouz helped topple a dictator:
And in response, during that spring, I wrote this:
26 years old
she looks straight at the camera
the beauty of her face an insurrection in the making
the force of her words feed the spark
you are courageous
and you are dangerous
the West is scared of you
and fundamentalists are scared of you
because you have helped your brothers and sisters
abandon their fear to fill Tahrir Square
and without fear their grip on power
sputters and flashes its belly
and without fear
the iron fist trained in the dark arts of torture
can be overwhelmed
and pried free from the necks of the people
they call the flames your words are fanning a virus
as they yank the imperial fist from the rump of Mubarak
and quickly jam it in Suleiman
it is your hour
the clock of old men is winding down
their scrotums, comfortably sheathed in expensive fabrics,
are suffering sweat stains
and forced retirements—
in the emirates?
now is the time for caution
the wolves of empire won’t let their influence wane
for the wolves of empire are insane for global dominance
but for now your template of resistance has won the day
so let the empire scramble and connive
trying to figure out why
the dignity of human life they seek always to subjugate
is, today, victorious