Speaking of the latest New Yorker, it contains one of the best pieces of reporting on Iraq I have read. George Packer’s “Betrayed” describes the appalling predicament of the thousands of Iraqis who have worked with the Americans during the occupation, risking their lives in the process:
Millions of Iraqis, spanning the country’s religious and ethnic spectrum, welcomed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. But the mostly young men and women who embraced America’s project so enthusiastically that they were prepared to risk their lives for it may constitute Iraq’s smallest minority. I came across them in every city: the young man in Mosul who loved Metallica and signed up to be a translator at a U.S. Army base; the DVD salesman in Najaf whose plans to study medicine were crushed by Baath Party favoritism, and who offered his services to the first American Humvee that entered his city. They had learned English from American movies and music, and from listening secretly to the BBC. Before the war, their only chance at a normal life was to flee the country—a nearly impossible feat. Their future in Saddam’s Iraq was, as the Metallica fan in Mosul put it, “a one-way road leading to nothing.” I thought of them as oddballs, like misunderstood high-school students whose isolation ends when they go off to college. In a similar way, the four years of the war created intense friendships, but they were forged through collective disappointment. The arc from hope to betrayal that traverses the Iraq war is nowhere more vivid than in the lives of these Iraqis. America’s failure to understand, trust, and protect its closest friends in Iraq is a small drama that contains the larger history of defeat.
There are times when I swear that The Onion is altering their backlog. For example, this “Point-Counterpoint” published on March 26, 2003:
This War Will Destabilize The Entire Mideast Region And Set Off A Global Shockwave Of Anti-Americanism
And what exactly is our endgame here? Do we really believe that we can install Gen. Tommy Franks as the ruler of Iraq? Is our arrogance and hubris so great that we actually believe that a U.S. provisional military regime will be welcomed with open arms by the Iraqi people? Democracy cannot possibly thrive under coercion. To take over a country and impose one’s own system of government without regard for the people of that country is the very antithesis of democracy. And it is doomed to fail.
A war against Iraq is not only morally wrong, it will be an unmitigated disaster.
Some idiotic legislators in Okalahoma are considering legislation that would declare English the “official language” of the state. Justifiably, the original residents are upset:
As Oklahoma observes its centennial year, the English-only issue points up divisions that persist more than a century after Indians were forcibly marched to the region and then endured a series of land grabs.
Many of Oklahoma’s 37 federally recognized tribes are fighting to save their languages and cultures from extinction years after the end of organized efforts to stamp them out.
Critics of the English-only Legislation point out that Oklahoma’s very name is formed from two Choctaw Indian words — “okla” and “homma” — that mean “red man.”
“If you go to English only, what are we going to call the state of Oklahoma?” said Terry Ragan, director of the Choctaw Nation’s language program. “Even town names in the state will have to be named differently.”
Despite having absolutely no plans to run for president, Al Gore has as much — or even more — support than John Edwards:
The latest poll put Clinton at 36 percent, Obama at 24 percent, Gore at 14 percent and Edwards at 12 percent. None of the other Democrats running received more than 3 percent. With Gore removed from the field, Clinton would gain ground on Obama, leading the Illinois senator 43 percent to 27 percent. Edwards ran third at 14 percent. The poll was completed the night Gore’s documentary film “An Inconvenient Truth” won an Academy Award.
The real point of the Post article from which this is taken is the gain Obama is making on Hilary, as black voters begin to shift their support to Obama.
A report in yesterday’s Guardian describes a book of poetry written Guantánamo Bay detainees that is to be published later this year, and the legal trouble it has encounter on its way to publication:
Many of the poems deal with the pain and humiliation inflicted on the detainees by the US military. Others express disbelief and a sense of betrayal that Americans – described in one poem as “protectors of peace” – could deny detainees any kind of justice. Some engage with wider themes of nostalgia, hope and faith in God.
But most of the poems, including the lament by Al Hela which first sparked Falkoff’s interest, are unlikely to ever see the light of day. Not content with imprisoning the authors, the Pentagon has refused to declassify many of their words, arguing that poetry “presents a special risk” to national security because of its “content and format”. In a memo sent on September 18 2006, the team assigned to deal with communications between lawyers and their clients explains that they do not “maintain the requisite subject matter expertise” and says that poems “should continue to be considered presumptively classified”.
The defence department spokesman Jeffrey Gordon is unsurprised that access to detainees poetry is tightly controlled. “It depends on what’s being written,” he says. “There’s a whole range of things that are inappropriate.” Of course poetry that deals with subjects such as guard routines, interrogation techniques or terrorist operations could pose a security threat, but Gordon is unable to explain why Al Hela’s poem is still classified, saying “I haven’t read any of these [poems]”.
Eyeteeth has just begun a series reviewing the websites of major-party presidential candidates. First, he considers Barack Obama’s site, which, as he explains, has fully embraced the promises of social networking:
Users can create groups, and according to the site’s blog, more than 1,000 groups already exist, from the Pasadena-based Macs for Barack (for Apple users) to the local Minnesotans for Obama. With a nod to hipsters and open-sourcers, there’s a Creative Commons bug at the bottom; for the youngsters, a link to Obama’s Facebook and Flickr sites. For the deeply interactive, there’s YouTube; for the literary, speech transcripts; for the non-voter, a link to a registration site. Truly, whatever way you want to access information,this rich site has it: XML syndication; a store, where one can buy union-made T-shirts for the cutesy price of $20.08 apiece; and a campaign blog that gets both updated and comments, lots of ’em.
A new Gallup poll indicates that most Americans who identify themselves as “religious” are “content to be personally religious or do individual conversion attempts.”
Recently collected Gallup Poll data suggest that most highly religious Americans either believe that they can be personally religious without needing to spread their beliefs, or that they can best spread their beliefs by converting others to their religion. Only a small percentage of highly religious Americans — 15% — believe the best way to spread their religion is to change society to conform to their religious beliefs.
The majority of highly religious Americans believe that they do not need to change the society around them to conform to their religious beliefs, but instead can live the best possible personal religious life, or focus on one-on-one conversion.
A Politically Correct Lexicon
GLBT: Shorthand for GLBTQ2IA.
GLBTQ2IA: The acronym for Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Transgendered, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Allies. “This is coming from the youth movement, the college campuses, it has not seeped into the whole community at this point,” says Baim, who at the Windy City Times uses GLBT, an acronym the New York Times has not yet seen fit to print.
Guys: Very controversial. Used, especially in the Midwest, when referring to a group of people. “In Chicago that word gets used a lot,” says Hill. And Baim says, “I use it all of the time.” Some feminists, like Andi Zeisler, the editor of Bitch, find “guys” problematic. “We assume the descriptor ‘guys’ denotes a quality of universality,” she says. “It would be hard to imagine a group of men being addressed by their server as ‘hey you gals’ and not taking offense, but the reverse happens all the time.”
Hir (hirs): Gender neutral for him and her. At Wesleyan University, incoming freshmen are instructed to use gender-neutral pronouns in campus correspondence. As one person wrote on the university’s online Anonymous Confession Board, “I am usually attracted only to people of hir original gender, rather than hir intended gender. As such, I’m afraid that I’m, like, viewing hir wrong, or not respecting hir wishes or something.”
Because they wouldn’t have a chance.
The results of this Gallup poll indicate that Americans would be more willing to vote for a homosexual president than an atheist.
The poll was mainly meant to feel out the stigmas attached to Presidential hopefuls: Hilary the woman, Obama the black man, Giuliani the divorcee, McCain the old man, etc. As far as I know, no heretics or gays are serious candidates.