Monday, May 17, 2010

For Yunis

I had it all planned out. I had the supplies: paper, sharpie, shoe, pig shit. I had my little speech. I had tested out the video camera. The script was set. I walk in, draw a rough image of an Arabic-loooking man, label him “Mohammed” and then use the bottom of my shoe to smear the pig shit on the image.

So were my plans for May 20th 2010.

Then cynicism then took over. How are the leaders of the Islamic nut-jobs likely to use videos like mine? DUH!!! They will use them as further proof that the west is the great Satan and must be attacked mercilessly. I imagined my video being stripped of its opening advisory and cut down to me smearing pig-shit over the name Mohammed. In delusions of grandeur, images from my little vid became as famous as the hooded figure with wires dangling from his wrists at Abu Ghraib. Nice Job, Homie.

Setting that fantasy aside, I mentally returned home and saw that Jim Jones, a high school classmate, had posted yet another ignorant, unfounded, incendiary, piece of conservative, Republican, drool. As I fight and argue politics with the right, I feel handicapped by the fact that, for the right, reality seems to pale in comparison to maintaining group cohesion, ratings, shock value, etc, etc, etc.

Persons like Jim and his political cronies are “dead-enders.” They’ll accept no accommodation short of resigning all of our duly elected power and letting them run things their way. Fortunately, Jim’s crew is not the whole world. There exists a continuum. The political battle is for the way-too-suggestible middle.

In this domestic political battle, talking reason against their noise is a very tiring exercise. Having someone feed their delusions would be very counterproductive.

Flashback: Brooks St., Boston, 1993. A Pakistani preacher’s kid, Yunis, is sharing the apartment with me, JD, and Bob Dondero.

I don’t know what became of Yunis over the years. For now, I’m imagining that he became a moderate / liberal Muslim leader of some kind. I then imagine Yunis trying to keep a liberal / moderate coalition unified against the fundamentalists. I then imagine the fundamentalists airing a one hour montage of our drawings, prominently featuring the one with the pig dung. I finally imagine him muttering in exasperation: “Fucking Westerners! I’ve got it tough enough without asses like them coming along and doing shit like this.”

Although I doubt that my Yunis is doing this kind of work, you can bet that somewhere in Persia, or Arabia, or the Middle East, or Southeast Asia, etc., there are many other Yunises who are struggling mightily to move the world forward. They know the culture; they know the politics; they know how things work there. They are our best hope against the extremists.

Let’s not make their lives difficult.

Please don’t participate in Draw Mohammed Day on the 20th.