FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Baghdad: Barbarism and Civilization

by JAMES PETRAS

He was the Daily Blare’s reporter in Baghdad, Andy Rubber-Ali, earnest, energetic and deeply embedded, who occasionally wandered off a good hundred and fifty to two hundred meters from the “Bunker” to pick up ‘human interest’ stories.

Given the summer heat ­ over 48 degrees Celsius ­ he decided to interview a municipal garbage man having lunch just outside the “Bunker”.

“Hello, would you mind if I ask you a few questions?” Andy sat on the bench next to the garbage man, wishing he had sniffed some eucalyptus oil beforehand.

“With or without the electric cattle prod?” the worker replied as he bit into a chicken leg.

“Hey, you’ve got a sense of humor, don’t you?”

“Just practical experience,” he said matter of factly.

“How do you think the war is going?”

The garbage man looked straight into Andy’s eyes without malice or spite (or so the Daily Blare reporter noted):

“It is important that those engaged in terrorism realize that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism in the world”. He threw the chicken bone to a scrawny cat, whose attention he had attracted.

Andy scratched his scrotum, turned his head and took a deep breath.

“Who are you talking about ­ the terrorists?”

“Yes the terrorists, all of them!” the man answered.

Andy scrupulously wrote it all down, though he had a vague sense that he had heard this somewhere else.

“What do you make of all this violence?” Andy shaded his nose and mouth to avoid the smell of garlic and garbage. “Has it affected you in any direct way?”

The garbage man looked away into the distance at the blue domed mosque.

“We will not allow violence to change our societies or our values. Nor will we let it stop our work.” He picked up his box cutter. “Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilized nations throughout the world. God willing.”

The last works froze Andy who took heed of the box cutter and edged away.

“You are a very articulate municipal worker,” Andy smiled ingratiatingly. “Garbage- — man”, he said softly. “I learn it from my work.”

“Eloquence from tossing garbage?” Andy asked incredulously.

“Especially from picking up garbage and corpses of all ages, both genders and all religions from our streets and markets.”

“Yes, its frightful what terrorism can do to a country,” Andy inserted his usually British banalities.

“Yes its frightful what a country can do to terrorists.”

The garbage man stood up, stretched and started to walk back to his truck.

“Hey, wait a minute. I’ve got a last question.” Andy ran alongside the worker who jumped into the drivers seat. “I’m not sure I’ve got it straight ­ are we talking about the same terrorists?

The garbage man leaned out the window as Andy bent forward.

“Buuuurp” the garbage man exhaled in Andy’s face. Andy retreated before this disgusting assault.

That night he forwarded his story.

The foreign editor replied, “Pure plagiarism. What are you smoking? Are you trying to make a ‘hadji’ into a Blair clone? Try again.”

The next morning after breakfast, Andy decided to interview an elderly cleaning lady who worked at the hotel.

“How will peace come about in this country?” Andy decided to start with an optimistic note.

The worker lifted her head, drew back her scarf and spoke in a soft whisper, “Ultimately these groups will only be defeated if they are separated from the populations from which they draw recruits and support.”

“Right on!” Andy smiled broadly,”How do weerhow is it done?”

“Get rid of all the foreign terrorists and jail their supporters among the local population.”

“You admit they are mostly foreigners?” Andy scribbled away, eager to get it all down.

“Yes, there are many.”

“How many would you guess?”

“Too many.”

“How do you feel about the bombings?”

The cleaning lady straightened up.

“If the bombers were looking to boost morale or our pride, then they succeeded. If they want to ensure our commitment to our way of life, they have achieved much. If they expected people to crawl out of the rubble of houses, markets and factories, head to work and otherwise get on with their daily lives, they were right. If their aim was to raise our strength and defiance congratulations. Burning with fear? God be praised, not likely.”

The cleaning lady picked up her pail of dirty water and mop and began to walk across the floor.

“What ‘bombers’ are you talking about?”

The elderly lady looked back.

“The ones who want to destroy an ancient thriving civilization, the barbarians who bombed hospitals, schools, department stores, markets, and who try to turn our diverse society of Sunni, Shia, Chaldean Christian, Jews, Palestinians, Kurds, Jordanians, Syrians and Iranians into warring tribes. My son was a Christian. He worked for a Muslim, who traded with Kurds and studied under a secular professor in the University. He was murdered at a check point. We were at the crossroads of civilizations between Europe and Asia. Now we are at the crossroads between civilization and barbarism. The enemies of freedom always underestimate their adversaries.”

At first Andy was astonished. “A cleaning lady improvised that narrative without any notes. She must have been university educated at some point. Then again she gave the wrong impression about whose side she’s on.”

“I had better edit this a bit before I send it to London ­ just to make its slant clearer.”

Next days’ return mail: “Andy, Get off the hash. That’s Livingston talking about London, not some old Arab cleaning lady. You are interviewing the wrong people in the wrong places.”

JAMES PETRAS, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50 year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in brazil and argentina and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed). His new book with Henry Veltmeyer, Social Movements and the State: Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina, will be published in October 2005. He can be reached at: jpetras@binghamton.edu

 

More articles by:
May 26, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts
The Looting Stage of Capitalism: Germany’s Assault on the IMF
Pepe Escobar
Hillary Clinton: A Major Gold-Digging Liability
Sam Pizzigati
America’s Cosmic Tax Gap
Ramzy Baroud
Time to End the ‘Hasbara’: Palestinian Media and the Search for a Common Story
José L. Flores
Wall Street’s New Man in Brazil: The Forces Behind Dilma Rousseff’s Impeachment
Patrick Cockburn
The Battle of Fallujah: ISIS Unleashes Its Death Squads
John Feffer
The Coming Drone Blowback
Alex Ray
The Death Toll in Syria: What Do the Numbers Really Say?
Richard Pithouse
We Shall be the Prey and the Vulture
Binoy Kampmark
Trump and the Polls of Loathing
Manuel E. Yepe
A Cruise Ship Without Tourists Arrives in Havana
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt Negotiations: Will the IMF Exit the Troika?
Ajamu Nangwaya
Pan-Africanism, Feminism and Finding Missing Pan-Africanist Women
Howard Lisnoff
Israel, a Palestinian State and Anti-Semitism
May 25, 2016
Eric Draitser
Obama in Hiroshima: A Case Study in Hypocrisy
Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
Does Venezuela’s Crisis Prove Socialism Doesn’t Work?
Dan Arel
The Socialist Revolution Beyond Sanders and the Democratic Party
Marc Estrin
Cocky-Doody Politics and World Affairs
Sam Husseini
Layers of Islamophobia: Do Liberals Care That Hillary Returned “Muslim Money”?
Susan Babbitt
Invisible in Life, Invisible in Death: How Information Becomes Useless
Mel Gurtov
Hillary’s Cowgirl Diplomacy?
Kathy Kelly
Hammering for Peace
Dick Reavis
The Impeachment of Donald Trump
Wahid Azal
Behind the Politics of a Current Brouhaha in Iran: an Ex-President Ayatollah’s Daughter and the Baha’is
Jesse Jackson
Obama Must Recommit to Eliminating Nuclear Arms
Colin Todhunter
From the Green Revolution to GMOs: Living in the Shadow of Global Agribusiness
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey as Terror: the Role of Ankara in the Brexit Referendum
Dave Lindorff
72-Year-Old Fringe Left Candidate Wins Presidency in Austrian Run-Off Election
May 24, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
The Financial Invasion of Greece
Jonathan Cook
Religious Zealots Ready for Takeover of Israeli Army
Ted Rall
Why I Am #NeverHillary
Mari Jo Buhle – Paul Buhle
Television Meets History
Robert Hunziker
Troika Heat-Seeking Missile Destroys Greece
Judy Gumbo
May Day Road Trip: 1968 – 2016
Colin Todhunter
Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink
Jeremy Brecher
This is What Insurgency Looks Like
Jonathan Latham
Unsafe at Any Dose: Chemical Safety Failures from DDT to Glyphosate to BPA
Binoy Kampmark
Suing Russia: Litigating over MH17
Dave Lindorff
Europe, the US and the Politics of Pissing and Being Pissed
Matt Peppe
Cashing In at the Race Track While Facing Charges of “Abusive” Lending Practices
Gilbert Mercier
If Bernie Sanders Is Real, He Will Run as an Independent
Peter Bohmer
A Year Later! The Struggle for Justice Continues!
Dave Welsh
Police Chief Fired in Victory for the Frisco 500
May 23, 2016
Conn Hallinan
European Union: a House Divided
Paul Buhle
Labor’s Sell-Out and the Sanders Campaign
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail