Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Handmade Blade

Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child’s balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying - from "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)", Bob Dylan, 1965

New York, late September 2001
"Isn't that ISIL stuff terrible," I asked rhetorically of an old friend the other night.

It was during a phone call. I was talking to an ex-ex in Australia. Catching up. I knew him well. But that was in another country ...

An intelligent man. A peace-loving man. An educated man. A grew-up-in-the-sixties-sort-of man.

ISIL had just been reported as having beheaded around twenty one Coptic Christians in Egypt. Exactly how many? Not sure. Did we even know the victims' names? Did we care? Well, speaking for myself, I care. But not enough.

And then came the spiel.

 I should have know better. I should have not even raised the subject.

"Yeah, well, it is all America's fault," my old friend intoned. Like a broken record.

"What?" I answered, holding my ground. "The United States didn't behead anyone..." "Yeah but," he answered.  "If America hadn't elected Bush and gone into Iraq..." and so on and so forth.... I changed the subject. Trying to find some neutral ground. After all, this was/is an old friend.

But in the back of my mind, the logical me, was thinking, "Why is he saying this? After all, I am an American. How insulting. He can think what he likes, but a little diplomacy could perhaps be in order? Not to mention logic."

I was asking too much.

For Christ's sake, when are these people going to stop blaming what they call "America" for all the ills in this world? At least get the geography right. Don't lump Chile, Brazil and Argentina, let alone Canada in with the USA. At least get the the country right.

When will it ever end? Why not blame England? George III - the mad English king who lost the American colonies? Surely, if he'd had a grip on reality, he might have kept them ... the colonies - "New England" that is.

No "United States", no "America" no "ISIL". Surely in this man's mind, and the minds of so many like him, this follows as night follows day. We can't blame "America" - the name given so lightly, so incorrectly, to the United States of America - if it didn't exist.

And it - the country, my second country, only exists as a geo-political entity because of (gasp!) "colonialism". Like Vietnam, Rwanda, Nigeria, India, white Australia. The political-geographical state of the world in 2015 is not the fault of the current citizens of the USA. Certainly not of mine. And yet ...

I put up with it when Al-Qaeda murdered 3,000 people on 9-11. Not wanting to argue, and rendered fragile when my city was attacked, I remained silent when the phone lines were restored and I heard people tell me it was all "America's fault".

Now 14 years later I have had enough. We can blame history. We can blame Bush, G W Bush,, Clinton, Carter, Washington. We can blame King George III of England, or the Quakers before him. We can blame Henry 8th. We can blame the Puritans. The Vikings maybe? We can blame ourselves.

To my old friend - and he is just one of many - can we please dare to get over it.

And blame ISIL.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well it's an easy out. Blame the Yanks. We are a bit prone to try to solve the world's problems, but the French would just let it roll (as long as they could have their two Summer months in the south) the Brits, (as long as they could derive a trade benefit) the Germans as long as they could feel superior etc etc. BTW, see if you can get a copy of "Flashpoints" by George Friedman. I don't agree with everything he says but it's a comprehensive look at to-day's world.

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