Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Here's one I've been saving up to do one of these days. It's Maruja Torres from El País's Sunday magazine.

The Only Certainty

I don't want to forget that today my eyes and my conscience are overflowing with horror and I know that I am not alone in my impotence. And although the day that you are reading me, things have changed, or even improved, I want to remember, and remind you with me, that there were days of ignominy of which we were faraway, distressed witnesses. The torn-apart victims; the children murdered one atop another, as if they were sleeping in the middle of a nightmare of the evil of others; the blood soaking badly-bandaged stumps, the mutilated bodies, the entrails. The blank stares, above all the blank stares. In the atrocious hours, long hours of the battle of Baghdad, they are coming to my house, to my country, governed by one of the most obsequious representatives of this century's moral misery, those blank stares of pain and surprise, of infinite sadness, of the loss of all hope, are coming. Of fear, of panic. Of anger, of rage. Of offended dignity, of defended dignity. Barely armed men who resist in the trenches, others who have survived in pieces and in hospital beds who barely have the strength to send to the world, through the camera, the only thing they can bomb us with: their recently discovered hate toward an enemy they do not even know. And those operations performed without anesthesia, and that rice that keeps arriving to the port when what is needed is water, and that marine who gives a demonstration of rap to the defeated children. A dark boy, surely enlisted for a hot meal, surely from a vile building in a miserable slum: you, who are like the conquered ones but without knowing it.

And the cries of the mutilated babies when a camera focuses on them and takes shots of them, as if they already knew that they are not only cannon fodder but TV news fodder.

And bombs and more bombs, and fire and more fire, and destruction and more destruction. And invading soldiers swaggering around, blinded with disdain and indifference as much as by their military superiority, leveling what were streets, houses, small shops, and whispering avenues.

Against forgetting everything we have seen, from far away with our hearts in flames. I don't know what is happening in this world today, that other cadavers have been swallowed up by the crater opened up in Mesopotamia, besides the innocence, the tranquil existence of the poor and the oppressed, legality, decency, and justice. I also don't know how many of my journalistic comrades will have died in the war that should never happened, and we know who is responsible.

If today, while you are reading, is a day in which death does not fill the headlines and we are already being invaded by the fever of what they call reconstruction, and we're busy with the ups and downs of the market, don't let them fool you. Remember what is happening while I am writing and which I am pallidly trying to write on this page, on this inscription against forgetting. And think that behind all the big words there is only one, as vile as the men which it represents: greed. We have seen what we didn't want to see, but we have seen it. And this is our only certainty.

I have several certainties. One is that Maruja is extremely self-absorbed, since she goes on and on about how she herself feels about the situation. My guess is that she is bipolar and has a narcissistic personality disorder. Trust me on this one. I'm good at this stuff. I'm the only one of you who's ever been committed to a mental hospital.

The second is that this is an atrocity piece, of which there have been so many about this and every other war. For atrocities, those perpetrated by Saddam and his international terrorist co-conspirators--and that perpetrated on September 11, 2001 (remember that one? There weren't too many bodies left after that one to pierce anybody with their blank stares)--are infinitely worse than the admittedly tragic deaths of some 800-1200 Iraqi civilians in the War on Saddam. Some of these deaths were admittedly perpetrated by the Americans and the British, zero of them intentionally, unlike Saddam placing military targets within populated areas, the Fedayeen forcing the ordinary civilians to be suicide bombers, and the explosions in the Baghdad markets that we didn't cause. And saying "Who cares whether you meant to kill them, they're dead anyway, just like Saddam's victims" is flat-out relativism, the idea that the morality of an act is not in its intention but in its effect.

A third certainty is that this here tantrum Maruja spit out onto paper is caused by a deep, deep anti-Americanism, since she never criticizes anybody else anyway and since she goes on about dignity and rage and the invaders and the like. She's what Orwell would call a transferred nationalist, someone who stakes her psychological identity on a profound feeling akin to nationalism but not directed towards a nation. Maruja is a Stalinist, a hardcore Red. She bet on the wrong side, and she bet on the wrong side big-time. She lost everything when the Berlin Wall came down, and that's why her dignity is injured and she is full of rage; every time the Americans, the sworn enemy of her chosen faith, do anything that demonstrates their power, influence, and prestige, which her own Stalinism has completely lost. That's how she feels, psychologically destroyed by the failure of the godhood of Communism and especially by its rejection by most other people, and she's projecting the crash of her world all around her upon the suffering Iraqi civilians, imagining that they must feel the same way she does.

A fourth is that she's an ignorant racist. She obviously knows nothing about American black people and especially nothing about American Marines who are black.

No comments: