Thursday, September 21, 2006

Vox un-populi

I wasn’t going to talk about politics. So, I’d like to start with a basket of nostalgia.

Remember high school? The outsiders, the kids without regulation gym uniforms, the geeky girl who asked me to smell her hands and tell her if I liked her new hand cream. The history of social isolation is a sordid tale of loves lost to bad hair days, and busses missed while trying to fold Dad’s large umbrella. In high schoo, being alone is to free will, as being lonely is to predestination. Some of us were born to be the unpopular kids. And the laws of popularity are like a treaty that all adolescents must obey, even if they don’t agree with all the provisions.

I had a vision of our Fearful Leader in a rasta knit cap wearing a t-shirt showing a man hanging upside down with a caption “Legalize It”. Living in a nation that not only performs torture, but seeks to justify it publicly in the rule of law is like going to bed as one of the popular kids, and waking up to find yourself in the middle of a Kafka story.

Americans used to be the popular kids. Everybody else envied us. Even if their envy was tinged with resentment and hate, everybody else wanted to be like us. We had this cool constitution, and human rights, not to mention, more swimming pools per capita than anybody else.

Our metamorphosis began when the Bully in Chief started running the schoolyard. We may still have the most swimming pools, but we are no longer popular, envied or cool. And asking the metaphor of the popular kid who falls from grace, to carry the weight of the horror we have become is harder than trying to imagine how it feels to go to bed as a man and wake up as a bug.

So, I’m quitting the popular gang. I don’t think torture is a good idea. Nor secret courts, nor refusing to disclose evidence to the accused, nor admissibility of coerced confessions. This is so far beyond being funny, or shameful. My government has turned into a big bug. I hate bugs.

In other news, the "Ali Baba guys" came through last evening. While enjoying our "hamas" as K insists on calling it, and golden lentil soup, one of the young men translated F's Jordan address into Arabic. He was interested in our connection, and said we needn't worry about mail in Jordan. He cautioned that if we sent mail to Saudi Arabia, UAE et. al. the story was different: there we'd need addresses in Arabic. And as for Syria, he sadly observed, forget it. You could have the address in 18 languages and it wouldn't get there. Said when he travels there he takes three pieces of luggage because he knows he'll recover one or two. The rest are apparently considered as presents for the locals. There was a time that would have made me feel a certain superiority that I live in a place free of such petty corruption. I miss being in the popular gang.