Friday, March 21, 2003

I failed to get a complete grip...

I'm having the experience that everyone said they had when the Twin Towers were bombed: I'm questioning my life and seeing that very few things matter very much. I guess the terrorist attacks disoriented me but did not dramatically alter my ordinary outlook. Now when I think of some unknown number of people wondering if they will survive and waiting to see if they make it through the night--all life seems so valuable--any death so horrible.

I'll probably end up pregnant and unemployed. Since everyone else quickly forgot the shift in their priorities after the terrorist attacks in New York I'll then probably think: How the hell did this happen? Still, at the moment anything but life and death seems so absurd.

We listened this morning to the BBC world report. Subhy Haddad was speaking. The thing that strikes you is how different his tone is...a tone of solemnity. Yes, shock maybe but he still answers questions. He reports but when you hear his reports then you hear the other reports differently: The other reporters seem so facile, this journalistic disengagement or even muted enthusiasm. (I won't even begin to describe what Rumsfeld sounds like.) When you hear an Iraqi report the others seem to do something that you could almost compare to acting--all plastic pretense. I suppose that is necessary in some way--you cannot have journalists experience things from the inside. You could hear Haddad's voice and know that his city was being destroyed and his children are afraid. Even the reporters inside Baghdad seem more disengaged. And so--although journalism might tell us something true--it also obscures some basic truths.

I get my news these days from Sleeve Notes.

This is the pathetic last resort...something you can do...

Give money to Iraq through Oxfam

In fact, I think at this point the U.S. should pick up the damn tab. (Well, OK this is what El Chico just said to me.) In fact, I'd say give to Afghanistan first and then to Iraq. My politically cynical husband claims that you should not give money to NGOs for disaster relief and he is very skeptical of "this disgusting sinkhole for expired drugs, corporations dumping their trash from huge tax write offs..." and "it serves as a support function for military invasions." "If Bush wants to blow up Baghdad he should supply the damn water."

This is way too purist for me. Where is the money for Afghanistan? They don't have oil. There is no flood of corporations waiting in the wings. Yes, there should be more than humanitarian relief and NGOs in the end. But what else is there? Give them some damn money.

Maybe Salam Pax has a view on this. Besides having the novelty of being the Iraq blogger he has such sharp observations, such great writing. Even now while he's waiting for the bombs. You really can tell that he would be the guy able to show you just how absurd everything you just said truly is.

This country--because of its calculation that 1 American life is worth 100,000 Iraqi lives (and that may overestimate the value given to an Iraqi life)--is now doing things that could kill this man. Isn't it strange to think that you go to someone's blog hoping he is still alive?


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