Saturday, September 26, 2015

Ishmael Beah

The Middle East flight from madness has begat the Euro crisis, which has certain people decrying the influx of foreigners into the west. Not everyone, though.
The reason so many are fleeing places like Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, and Iraq is that US and European interventionist policy has left these countries destabilized with no hopes of economic recovery. This mass migration from the Middle East and beyond is a direct result of the neocon foreign policy of regime change, invasion, and pushing "democracy" at the barrel of a gun.

--Ron Paul
Given that the West has played its hand and the dealer's still dealing, this disconnect obviously doesn't serve the refugees. Cue our peculiar American ego of ours, wrapped in the flag of lofty ideals, with just enough leftover food to fuel the pr machine. Even if you come up in one of our tough urban environments.

And here's the question: Is coming  up in East LA, South Central, Compton, the South Bronx, Cabrini Green... really tough? My Auntie Kathy told me she hated her childhood because they were dirt poor, Ma told me of having nothing to eat unless Uncle George went out and killed some game, otherwise it'd be cabbage and some listless white sauce made out of flour. Most self-proclaimed "gangstas" would run screaming from the room if faced with the prospect of being in a really tough context. You either eat or you don't. You can dodge bullets, not hunger.

Nebraska high school yearbook photo. Yep.
Then there's war torn places the likes of which are relegated to privileged gazes like the neocons or our mass media, as distorted and twisted a view as any. One  of the things I asked in the wake of the City of Bell scandal, which saw the government liquidate the holdings of that puss sack otherwise known as former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo, was this: How much of that money found its way back to the citizens of Bell? While covering the scandal, the LA Times, whom I applaud for breaking the story, never once mentioned this, nor reparations of any kind.

I once told a young kid from the inner city who thought he was hard, that if he thought he was tough, to go live in Gaza and support Palestinians. Or see if he could get into the looniest bin on earth, North Korea. Stay there, year after year, eating crap day and night. Then write us and let us know how hard you are.

Hearing about insanity from Others can be like opening a new door. Whether one has the capacity, the energy to go through is another subject. Ishmael Beah walks through from the Other side, and shakes up our so-called hard gangstas with hardcore reality, pragmatism, humor, and, a profound vision of humanity born and bred in the crucible of horror and struggle.