Wednesday, October 25, 2006

From the Holy City of Cleveland, OH

Insane Opinions by Kevin E. Cleary
There was a story on NPR last night that followed a military translator in Iraq talking to Iraqi citizens in a remote village. The translator responded to their concerns in a condescending tone, repeatedly told them that they would see results when their own government “stepped up” in the coming year, told them not to worry about militias, etc. The man and his son asked the translator for a number of things that their village no longer had, such as a refrigerator and X-ray machine at their local clinic. Each request was met with, “I’ll see what I can do.” Finally, the two men asked for AK-47s to defend themselves. That request was met, and the men were given certificates proving that they were allowed to carry the guns.

Essentially, these men had several reasonable requests denied, were given half-hearted and empty promises, and after ten minutes of condescension from the Occupier, were given AK-47s by the same Occupier. I can’t imagine why we’re having so much trouble dealing with the insurgency in Iraq...

For some reason, this reminded me of how we treat homeless people here in America, and if we should just give up the pretense and try the same approach here. Already, we ask homeless people to stand in long lines to get on waiting lists, we treat them with condescension at almost every turn, the health care we provide is generally slightly better than in Iraq, and we promote the idea that things will magically become better once local governments have “stepped up” and implemented 10 Year Plans.

Really, our treatment of homeless people is little better than the way we seem to be treating Iraqi citizens. In Iraq, we invaded a country that had not attacked us, sacked their despotic leader, but then let chaos run amok. We somehow still have the nerve to question why Iraqis aren’t grateful for this, and treat them like this chaos is entirely their fault. In America, we have sacked the funding for social programs, concentrated an immense amount of wealth in the hands of a few, kept wages low, and let economic chaos run amok as jobs have evaporated.

The fundamental difference is that here, we don’t give homeless people AK-47s to defend themselves. With hate crimes against homeless people on the rise, they may need them as much as Iraqi citizens. Also, if we had armed militias of homeless people demanding social change, our government might actually respond to their needs. But, then again, probably not.


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