FLORENCE OF ARABIA, WHERE ARE YOU
WHEN WE NEED YOU?

Grief.
Shock.
Anger.

A city that became a bombed-out landscape where every heart was breaking with sorrow, as we asked each other "How could a terrible thing like this possibly happen? Why do they hate us so much?" through bitter tears.

"Florence of Arabia," am I being flippant with this title? Some are insisting it is "Inappropriate to express joy at this time" --which I believe is a sadly mistaken idea that too many mourners are happy to shove down your throat in the name of America.

Yes, this terrorist attack was a national tragedy and yes the memories will last a lifetime; the tears streamed down my face over those sad pictures of the missing people, but at the same time I'm not going to be told what to think or how and when to grieve. Nor do I forget one overwhelming fact: there's no way you can deny that the U.S. helped bring on this awful event. It didn't just happen "out of the blue."

So...maybe it's time to think less about how we can become more efficient spies, policemen, and security inspectors and more about how to stop our govt from committing the atrocities that bring such terrible vengeance upon our heads.

Florence of Arabia. All right, I'll explain that title but only because I've noticed how few readers know what the hell I'm talking about when I just let fly like that and don't edit myself very, very carefully. Y'all remember that movie starring Peter O'Toole where he stands gloriously in the desert sunrise amid yards and yards of white chiffon billowing on the breeze while burnoosed tribesmen on camels stand admiringly by? That's his costume, see, and the original T.E. Lawrence (not Peter O'Toole) did a wonderful job of communicating with the inhabitants of the Middle East--something our glorious leaders (and I use the term loosely) have been sadly unable to do.

Now don't get angry, honey. There's no use screaming at ME because our leaders find themselves unable to communicate is there? Wow, in the past few of weeks I've managed to make a lot of people very, very angry indeed, just because I pointed out a few obvious truths that they don't seem to want to hear, but--here goes again, anyway. (The philosophy is this. You can't help a human being until you first make him or her angry.)

"Why do they hate us?" millions are asking. This strikes me as the question of a drunken ostrich on medical drugs, a question to which the only answer is: How long has your head been in the sand, baby?

Well for one thing they don't like that we occupy portions of their land. Osama wants the US out of Arabia. OK, he's a psycho; we certaintly cannot tolerate what he did; we should kill him and everyone he knows by the ancient law of lex talionis, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, etc., but first we must recognize that if THEY sent an army to live in one of OUR states we would have "about two hemorrhages apiece," as the bard said. So think this one over. Yes, I know it's all about oil and we're used to booming all over the world in planes trains cruise ships and automobiles and we NEED that oil!, partly to dump by mistake in the ocean and kill millions of helpless sea creatures, and partly to take us on our endless and generally senselessly self-seeking vacations and so on, but still--

Is anyone not aware that our govt funded, armed and supported the Taliban because they were fighting against the Soviets who were our "enemy" at the time? And after we whipped those brutes into splendid fighting form (and who can deny that the NY attack was an absolutely brilliant piece of work), we went off to do something else and ignored them, possibly expecting that they'd go home and knit doilies for their relatives while loving us from a distance--but in a sense, they were like women scorned and as we all know, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, right, Patricia? I mean what else did we think those guys were going to do--it is the height of insanity to expect that when that particular conflict was over they wouldn't turn all that training and equipment against US. Because remember, they are totalitarian and opposed to liberty and the U.S. with all its flaws STANDS for liberty. If you equip and train such people, what do you expect? Or to put it another way, how dumb can you get?...

Embargoes? Ridiculous. Petty little bureacratic "There! Take that!" embargoes do no good and just make people mad. And the point is, constantly making the same people furiouly angry over a period of many, many years, is just plain stupid, as we have seen, and it leads invariably to sneak attacks. The question is, do we want this Earth or do we want an eternal nuclear winter in which our once-blue and wonderful atmosphere has been ripped off? When Bush's first answer is a screaming "This is an act of WAR! We must PUNISH!" on a planet where every little crossroads now has nuclear weapons--well, something is rather amiss, wouldn't you say? No, you probably wouldn't say and I can understand your feelings exactly, but--

I hate to break this news to you but--punishment always makes things worse.

That's why we need Florence; she's so diplomatic and she can negotiate and we seem to have no skill whatever at these things. Our "government" as it is tastefully called, uses a heavy hand in dealing with these inferior foreigners; we feel they are damn lucky we don't kill their ugly asses on the spot and as far as being polite and handling them, well! We wouldn't stoop to that. But Florence was very, very good at such handling. And if your remember your Machiavelli, which I'm sure you do because you are all so very literate, you can't just spit in the face of powerful princes to show them how superior and great you are; you must either (a) wipe them out before the sun goes down with no more self-serving gabble or (b) handle them with politeness, ethics, sanity and a show of respect and kindness however false.

And of course there's the Israeli-Palestine thing. The Israelis have often punished their neighbor in most brutal and terrible ways, at which we've complimented the former and told the latter to go to hell because we couldn't care less and we hate and look down on them anyway. This is something our good Florence, that negotiating diplomat in the yards of white chiffon, would never be stupid enough to do; she'd know that it would bring on an attack sooner or later.

And then we have that stuff about Bush's bombing babies in Iraq. Well, heck, I know you don't want to hear about this--it interferes with waving your American flag made in a Taiwanese sweatshop as you sing "Amazing Grace," so I'll just give you one little link that you can check out if it won't interfere with your pleasure-seeking, as:
Iraq's children

And don't you dare say (as many have done) that I don't love America as much as you do. My goal is to save your ignorant asses, not to cause you more pain and heartbreak. I love you, you jerks! I don't want to live in a world without you, so for Godsake don't just elect one witless Govt after another and give it carte blanche to do anything it wants to in YOUR name simply because paying attention may involve taking more responsibility that you're used to.

It's easy to hold a candlelight vigil with singing. It's not so easy to keep your govt from attracting death from the skies. But that's the work I'm assigning you as of right now. Banning knives from airports? Ridiculous! We can't live in an insane asylum because Osama is psychotic; after all, we helped make him that way.

Please remember that the chickens ALWAYS come home to roost. So let's make sure they are not genocidal chickens, OK? Let's just wise up a little bit, buddy, for once in our hectic lives. Your sincere friend and equally grieving (and equally worried about our shaky future as should be obvious by now!) compatriot, Jody Scott.

"The Army seems safe against enthusiasm. It's a horrible life, and the other fellows fit it. I said to one 'They're the sort who instinctively throw stones at cats' ...and he said, 'Why what do you throw?' You perceive that I'm not yet in the picture." - TE Lawrence

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Novels:

I, Vampire
Read Chapter 1
Reviews on Amazon.com

Passing for Human
Read Chapter 1
Malzberg Review of Passing for Human


Columns:

An Orientation
Censorship in Our Time?
Anthrax
I See Dead People
The Elements of Disaster
Dog Park Incident
Florence of Arabia
Hannibal
PEOPLE SHOULD NOT SAY "YIPPEE"
The Silence of the Hacks
A Nutshell in India
Seatbelts
Sleep Tight, Ya Morons!
Spin Control
When This War is Over
Iraqi Children






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