Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Now let me sleep

(**NSFW below.**)

It must not be forgotten. Forgiven, maybe yes, but forgotten, no. The minutiae of any given scheme, particularly a western one, is fun stuff, and we'll go on with it shortly. Bright horizons abound. Love swirls. Nothing has changed except what you felt like in that specific moment when you found out.

As we travel our path, imagining and creating, loving and hoping, we will see alongside of us those who speak of hopeful things, but who do not truly seek them. Remember, my friend, that at every moment, you swim in a sea of eddies both good and evil. The more knowledge you come to possess, the more of the picture you see, and you become at once capable of both greater good and more powerful evil.

The abuses to these selves, here in the "west," are not unimportant. They must be spoken of, and remembered. The great numerologists, marketers, befoulers and deathlords who feed off of, and destroy, western populations are the same women and men, guided by the same principles, who express themselves across the rest of the planet in different ways.

To what end, this particular sadness? There is always another layer.

A Summer With Uncle Sam

You are a child, perhaps eight years old, and you stay with your Uncle Sam for the summer. His yard is a little overgrown, but sunflowers bloom along the fence, and there is a clubhouse built atop the old oak. It doesn't look so bad when your father drops you off. The first night there, Uncle Sam serves you takeout pizza and lets you watch a police movie. It is great fun. When the movie is over, Sam is asleep. You're not sure how to get yourself to bed in the strange house. When you rouse Sam, he is furious to be awakened, and punches you in the back of the head. You run upstairs, find an empty bedroom, and cower in the corner, shivering, all night long.

This is one level of awareness: I am being hurt. It is wrong.

And it is wrong. It was terrible. We discover that some people are starving children, breaking up families, economically exploiting hundreds of millions of Americans, and poisoning humanity's food, water, and air. It is wrong.

The next morning, Uncle Sam is smiling, and you do not talk about the bruise on the back of your head. You can't call Mom because she and Dad are busy for the summer, and they both seem to like Uncle Sam. But things seem normal again. You have cereal and go outside to play. The honeysuckles are blooming, the sunflowers are straight and beautiful, and the overgrown yard smells like fun. Uncle Sam has an old swing-set, so you swing merrily. The little girl who lives in the house across the street is dropped off by her mother to play for the day. While talking with her, you discover that Uncle Sam has been molesting her for years. You will be able to go home at the end of the summer, but she will always live across the street from Sam, and for the rest of her childhood, her mother will drop her off during the day to be looked after.

Later that night, the girl's older sister comes by. She has a car that looks like it hasn't been washed or painted as often as your Daddy's car has. Uncle Sam throws some half-microwaved fish sticks at you, and tells you to get the hell upstairs. You hear the woman making spooky, icky moaning sounds down below. The next day, her little sister comes by to play again. She says that her daddy threw her sister out of the house, but Sam gives her money to come by and play sometimes.

It Can Always Get Worse

And it can. Because no matter your anger at Uncle Sam for the inhuman acts of betrayal he has committed, it pales in comparison to discovering that he serves on the local school board. He's also a special citizen adviser to the Mayor's Committee on Child Safety. Two of his books on Family Studies have been published by W.W. Norton, and the Lady's Church Social always asks him to speak at the local picnic.

There are a lot of levels of anger to feel toward Uncle Sam. The first, the simplest, is the personal anger at his attack on you: he hit you in the head. It was unfair, cruel, and wrong. The second is that he did worse to the little girl across the street, and that it is not only a worse act, but one he's repeated.

More advanced disappointment with Uncle Sam might take the shape of being angry that he was using the girl's older sister. Did that woman grow up the same way as her sister? Did Uncle Sam contribute to the sadness of her life? Maybe, in the older sister, we see the younger sister's future: all because of Uncle Sam. If we're particularly empathetic, we might be angrier at Uncle Sam for what he did to those two girls than what he did to us.

Even beyond that is the horror of watching Uncle Sam shake hands at school board meetings, and listening to him giving impassioned speeches about the welfare of the children in his community. And those smiling heads out in the audience, nodding and absorbing and taking Sam at his word. Sam isn't just talk, remember: Sam volunteers to coach the local gymnastics and girls soccer teams, and there's a plaque in the local Domino's Pizza (where he bought you dinner that first night) thanking him for his financial support of the middle school (go badgers!).

It would be easy to call Uncle Sam a "hypocrite," but we would be wrong: Uncle Sam isn't a hypocrite. He serves on the school board, and is an expert on positive child development, because it makes him a trusted member of the community, more likely to be considered "safe" with children, and less likely to be convicted of a serious crime. He's not a hypocrite, but rather, a very intelligent, vile criminal.

Community Service

This is why we are less easily deceived if we judge people, and institutions, by the whole of their actions, rather than by their words, or even by a few nice gestures. No matter how kind Sam's words, or how genuine his work with the girls soccer teams over the years, there is a profound sickness in his actions. It is a sickness that goes deeper than just his abuse of children. The fact that he abuses those children, while at the same time helping others, is a peculiar kind of sickness: it is a deep, sustainable, renewable sickness, that promises to have Sam, or men like him, destroying lives forever. While getting credit for saving them.

At a certain level, it's understandable, diagnosable, and quite simple. We know exactly why Sam does the nice things he does, don't we? It helps him fool people and get access to children. But the moment of deeper epiphany has an emotional-terror aspect that can feel a little less simple. If you've ever met an Uncle Sam, and seen him shaking hands with men like himself, and getting pictures taken for the local paper, you might understand what it feels like to look at that plaque in the local Domino's. And why something about that congratulatory plaque feels more disgusting, vile, and wrong than the actual honest abuse Sam has handed out.

Follow the Money

Pull your lens back a little bit, with Uncle Sam. If we can understand all those types of horror and wrongness, we learn something about how evil survives. Evil is rarely blunt and honest. When it is, it is quickly extinguished. The parasites that last the longest are, like Sam, pillars of the community. They're even willing to go so far as to spend a lot of money, and get a lot of attention, for addressing any kind of concern you can imagine. They're only thinking about the future.

Think like Watergate, and follow the money. Who's paying for it? If it's Uncle Sam, there's a good chance that something's wrong. It doesn't mean that the starting goalie on this year's girls soccer team is bad, or that she has any knowledge of Sam's pattern of behavior, but it probably indicates that there is a systematic problem with the community, or at the very least, with Sam's household.

Few things in this density may be fully black and white, but one of the closest ways you can see things in true black and white is that, when someone or some organization is responsible for repeated acts of mass murder, they're not to be trusted when they do something "nice." There is something intrinsically wrong. Mass murder can, at the least, be a decisive litmus test for trustworthiness. Never expect mass murderers to loan you money at a fair rate, make sure the hungry will ever be fed, or create any kind of positive vision of the future. New uniforms for next year's soccer team can never buy back the lives Sam has destroyed. Extrapolate as needed--and when "Sam" stands up for applause before the people because he's the one who paid for "these nice new uniforms," be a little less dazzled.


Really, the uniforms are cool, but blood money is blood money, no matter what you buy with it.

The Less Visibly-Pleasant Forms of the Miasma

Underscoring it all, and somewhere between your standard example of abuse and Sam's round of applause at the community center, here's a little closer from Ali Abbas. Long before Bush held hands with one of them at the White House, the Saudi royal family has been paying for various destabilization operations in the Arab world. In recent history, beginning with Clinton and carrying on through Dubya and Obama, one of the Saudis' projects has been Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a group operating in Pakistan. Even Michael Moore, and the friggin' government of Australia, of all brilliant places, have figured out that Saudi Arabia is not nice, but of course Obama goes on funneling money through the House of Saud to keep everyone on their toes, yada yada. A couple days ago, the Jhangvi Army did another comparatively mild car bombing, an indirect successor to their attack on February 4 which got quite a few Shia children and prompted Ali's poem (note: not the "Ali Abbas" who is the soccer player, or the "Ali Abbas" who lost his arms to Bush and had a feel-good book written about him by the good folks at Harper Collins). Pic-poem follows:

At the end of it all, again, why do we pay attention? Say this story was only a couple hundred years old--we already get it, right? Bad people kill kids, right?

We pay attention because we must remember that the people who caused that are not the people to look to for the future. The governments, media corporations, experts, and talking heads who martyr children are as clever as Uncle Sam. They are donating their time and money to "help out." When you look at a dead child, or just feel the effects of a deliberate economic recession, it's tempting to be lulled by powerful, influential people who seem to be addressing your concerns--even if they're sort of connected to the same complexes that are out there causing recessions and murdering children.

The New Testament actually is spot on, here, with a banal piece of logic:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

-Matthew 7:15-20

There's a lot of fun to be had there in the lands of metaphor about how a healthy tree will occasionally give a bad apple, or vice versa. In general, though, the idea that someone's actions should define them should be considered a tautology, but it has lost its obviousness after years of politicians and wealthy philanthropists.

Be nice to each other out there.


  1. I'm pretty sure there are some prostitutes out there who would disagree that the older sister is being used by exchanging sexual favors for cash.

    Can't argue with anything else here, though. It just blows my mind that otherwise intelligent people are still suckered by empty slogans mouthed by people in positions of power.

    1. Quite so. Let's consider three example prostitutes:

      1) Juman, the Lebanese orphan imported into Israel by a private brothel that doesn't let her leave, where the owner's goons beat her, and there's a near-100% chance that she'll be killed once she hits her late thirties. She gets room and board in exchange for servicing off-duty IDF officers.

      2) Brenda, the creative American single mom with a master's degree, who has a choice of putting her kid in daycare and going back to school for her teacher certification, or doing sex work for higher pay and more free time with her family.

      and, of course,

      3) Sally, the down and out, bipolar white nineteen-year-old from Alabama, who lets the repulsive Uncle Sam abuse her in exchange for just enough money to cover her prescription bills and yearly co-pays to get refills.

      Our metaphorical prostitute here would be Sally, of course. :) Which doesn't mean that Brenda doesn't exist.

  2. Joe... when violence and social control are so depersonalized and essentially invisible, it is quite easy to be fooled by specific personified acts of pseudo-kindness and "development policies".
    Yes, it doesn't take too much intelligence to see through it, but it takes effort and honesty. "Hey, at least we are doing something to help" might be the most evil political position of all times.

  3. hooha,

    Good points. I have a terminal case of cynicism, so sometimes it's hard for me to understand people's willingness to believe in Hope 'n' Change, etc. Maybe "intelligence" was the wrong word. It seems like a bit of willful blindness is going on in a lot of cases, instead of stupidity. I guess that's what you meant by "honesty."