FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Give the Trinity River Back to the Salmon

Fairy tales often have a universal appeal and draw children of all nations into their magical world. Pinocchio is no exception where the Blue Fairy rewards moral behavior and grants a puppet flesh-and-blood status.

I do doubt, however, that children in Iraq or Afghanistan could understand why an inanimate, man-made object would ever want to be a child of the flesh and blood kind. In their world, the flesh of children is there for the maiming and the blood for flowing –unlike those beautiful, sacrosanct objects of art which must be preserved and doted on.

As the British Independent reports, “an international band of curators and historians anxious not to repeat the damage inflicted on Iraqi treasures during the Gulf War 11 years ago are appealing to the American government to take the historic sites into account.” (<http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/1107-04.htm>)

A similar surge of concern was observed when, about six months before the 9/11 attacks, Afghanistan made a brief appearance in the news. The world was outraged then, but not because hundreds of thousands children’s lives were flickering away in refuges camps where lack of education, food, and opportunities stole away their childhood and diseases and lack of medical care made sure many never grow into adults. The world was not outraged because the Taliban regime was denying medical care to women (and children) by not allowing women healthcare workers to work and men to take care of women. The outrage was not that the United States had pushed the U.N. to slap economic sanctions on the country -because of its refusal to turn over Osama bin Laden- that made things worse for the worst off, the poorest, the most vulnerable in the country (according to some estimates, the sanctions increased the price of basic medicines up to 50%) without providing leverage or means to make things better.

It was the 1,400-year-old Buddha statues carved into the mountainside at Bamiyan that triggered the heart-rending cries of concern. The New York Times (03/19/01) reported that Taliban envoy Rahmatullah Hashimi explained that the decision was made after an international NGO offered money to restore the statues but refused to allow the money to be used in refugee camps — where 300 children had just died. Hashimi recounted that the NGO was asked that “instead of spending money on statues, why didn’t they help our children who are dying of malnutrition?” Upon being told that “this money is only for statues”, they decided to destroy them.

Germany, Malaysia and Japan joined Russia, India, United States, Egypt and others to decry the barbarity. Offers poured in: money to restore the statues, money to remove the statues for safekeeping somewhere else, money to change the rulers’ minds. Money that had not been pouring in for the refugee camps, for food, for clean water.

Now the world’s archeologists and curators are afraid a similar outrage will occur to the historical artifacts in Iraq. The Independent quotes Helen McDonald, of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq, based at Cambridge University, who explained that last time the Iraqis had tried to move a great deal of their most important objects out into storage in the countryside and that they have already begun to do so again.

“But some things are immovable, such as huge stones. If a bomb hits a museum or something, that would be it,” she said.

Sure enough, she notes, “The British School of Archaeology in Iraq has written [about this]. They wrote to the Foreign Office during the Gulf War to express concern, not just on the humanitarian grounds but the effects that it would have on the culture.”

Bombing of stones isn’t the only potential cause of horrors, according to Charles Tripp, of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. He warns that in the wake of the Gulf War, sanctions had inadvertently caused as much damage to the archaeological sites of Iraq as direct attack. Trip notes: “The conditions of poverty had led to much looting of archaeological sites and site museums, which often contained significant finds even after the best items were removed to Baghdad. Numerous finds have turned up on the art market in the West.” Dr Tripp observes that “there is a lot of temptation in a destitute country to rip something out that has a saleable value in the West.”

Yes, especially since UNICEF reports that at least half a million children have died due to those sanctions. (<http://www.scn.org/ccpi/HarpersJoyGordonNov02.html>) I can imagine parents looting and prying loose every single stone, rock, tablet, gem or otherwise inanimate object in that country to try to obtain food or simple medicines.

It has been reported that when a journalist asked Mahatma Gandhi what he thought about Western Civilization, he replied, “it would be a good idea.”

Indeed, it would be a good idea; unfortunately, it’s unlikely we’ll be able to muster that up in short order so we need a more serious, urgent and miraculous intervention.

We need the Blue Fairy who turned Pinocchio into flesh to perform a reverse miracle.

So here goes.

Please, Blue Fairy, turn the children of Iraq into stone. The older the stone better. Stone with cracks and signs of aging and weather damage would be perfect. Hopefully, that will evoke some protective reflexes and caring in their direction.

And, Blue Fairly, while you are at it, please do the same for the children of Afghanistan which is once again facing famine since the investment required and promised has not been delivered, and the children of Southern Africa which is in the midst of a progressing famine due to the drought which might have been triggered partly by global warming, and the children in Central America which is now threatened by famine thanks to the crisis in the coffee industry which never paid farmers more than a pittance of their enormous profit.

If Blue Fairy does not come through, I encourage the Iraqis to start their own make-a-wish foundation, which grants wishes to children with terminal illnesses. Of course, in Iraq, because of the sanctions, easily curable diseases like cholera and treatable childhood problems like leukemia are often terminaland then there are the congenital birth defects in the depleted-uranium-polluted south.

That make-a-wish foundation should take those children, whose childhood we have collectively destroyed, to the precious museums and let them play with all those precious stones and tablets. The children should paint them with indelible ink. They should throw them to the ground from high buildings to see from which floor they pulverize most easily. They should be encouraged to play team games and see which team can hammer a tablet into dust fastest.

Maybe, just maybe, what must surely be the collective wish of all those children and their families will come true. Maybe, amidst the predictable outrage over crushed stone, the world will notice them.

And maybe, just maybe, the biggest miracle of all will happen without the Blue Fairy — our hearts of stone will turn into flesh and blood.

ZEYNEP TOUFE is a doctoral student in Austin, Texas. She can be reached at <zeynep@tao.ca>

 

More articles by:

January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Que Syria, Syria
Dave Lindorff
A Potentially Tectonic Event Shakes up the Mumia Abu-Jamal Case
Nick Pemberton
There Are More Important Things Than The Truth
Brian Cloughley
How Trump’s Insults and Lies are Harming America
David Rosen
Sexual Predators in the Era of Trump
Tamara Pearson
Everything the Western Mainstream Media Outlets Get Wrong When Covering Poor Countries
Richard E. Rubenstein
Trump vs. the Anti-Trumps: It’s the System That Needs Changing Not Just the Personnel
Christopher Ketcham
A Walk in the Woods, Away from the Screens
Basav Sen
Democrats Failed Their First Big Test on Climate
Lauren Smith
Nicaragua – The Irony of the NICA Act Being Signed into Law by Trump
Joseph Natoli
Will Trumpism Outlive Trump?
Olivia Alperstein
The EPA Rule Change That Could Kill Thousands
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
The New Congress Needs to Create a Green Planet at Peace
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
Cuba: Trump Turns the Vise
Ramzy Baroud
When Bolsonaro and Netanyahu Are ‘Brothers’: Why Brazil Should Shun the Israeli Model
Mitchell Zimmerman
Government by Extortion
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail