There is no more eloquent voice from inside the insanity of Iraq than the woman known as Riverbend . Her humanity is so powerful and her voice so beautiful that she regularly moves me nearly to tears. Trying to imagine the horror of living under the ongoing U.S. rape of Iraq is difficult from the U.S. where we have no idea what it is like to suffer aerial bombardment from supposedly “brave, manly” soldiers, where the arbitrary brutality of scared young men carrying heavy arms and (too many of them) on a crusade against Islam leads to acts that the word ‘degradation’ is far too soft for. Riverbend mostly seems to stay safely in her home and neighborhood, suffering the endless blackouts
Somalian writer Nuruddin Farah is a fantastic writer. I earlier read his novel “Gifts” and just finished his latest last night, “The Links.” It’s the story of a Somalian who now lives in New York with his wife and daughters who goes back to Mogadiscio to honor his mother’s grave. The story begins with his arrival at a small airstrip outside of the city. Surprisingly someone has sent a vehicle to pick him up, even though Jeebleh didn’t think anyone knew he was coming. Immediately we are faced with the jarring chaos of Somalia, young men striding around with heavy machine guns, intoxicated with qaat, an impenetrable disregard for life seeming to permeate all the characters he sees. Slowly we are drawn into his story as he tries to make sense of the city and life he once knew so well, now reduced to civil war…
One of those irritating things about being an advocate for public life and public space is the horrifying regular appearance of people marching around in military uniforms. I was popping in to my office at 7th and Market and the streets were closed for the Veterans’ Day march. Normally I wouldn’t have thought too much beyond the usual spitting rage I harbor for the U.S. military and its corporate masters, but this was even worse: the three contingents that marched by while I pedaled in the opposite direction were all made up of high school ROTC or even 7th graders in uniforms… Lots of talk lately about fascism, and there’s no denying the basic truth of that. But when it’s staring me in the face, I was really saddened. Rage? I should feel rage, but I mostly just look on at what I consider to be a growing herd of zombies marching to the cliff’s edge, apparently blind to what they’re approaching… of course there are those of all fundamentalist stripes who think Armageddon and rapture are desirable and inevitable… Did you hear about that Lt. outside Fallujah who characterized the “enemy” inside the city as “Satan”?
My goal for the next few weeks (years?) is to promote the concept of “ungovernability” and seek to unleash the creative ideas that can make this a movement for a good life rather than just merely resistance.