Thursday, February 17, 2005

Cup 80: The Caffiene Makes me Irritable

Originally uploaded by matt_leclair.
Where: Pembroke Elementary
When: 10 am Feb 17, 2005
Who: many middleschoolers
Coffee: Green Mountain (tepid, purchased back in Orono
Mood: irate

Coffee began its seduction long before I started drinking. I remember a commercial. One woman snaps at her friend and then apologizes, claiming that her doctor says it's too much caffiene. Her friend recommends she switch to decaf. I was an extremely passive kid who never spoke his mind when he was upset, and just endured quietly, so this made coffee seem like some wonderful elixer that enabled one to speak one's mind.

Must be too much caffiene. By the time I made it to Pembroke I was ready to bite somebody's head off. Unfortunately, the target of my irritation was just too big. My jaws don't open that wide.

It's a long drive to Pembroke and I had a long time to think about what I'd read that morning. Iraqi ex-pats living in Australia are putting pressure on the US Govt. to put a stop to the web site Under Mars. Under Mars is a website that lets soldiers in Iraq post pictures that they've taken. Some of them are extremely graphic images of war atrocities that should be offensive to every thinking & feeling human who sees them. Many of these have stupid captions ut there by the soldiers who post them, like, "In need of plastic surgery" beneath a horribly mutilated corpse.

I read the comments on Iraqi blogs about the photos. It all made me angry, made me want to scream "A plague on both your houses!" A typical Iraqi response was that Allah would punish all the Americans, and the same thing would happen to them. Another response was to characterize all Americans based on the idiot soldier who posted the pictures making fun of mutilated Iraqi corpses. A typical American response was, well, bad things happen in war, but isn't it a small price to pay for freedom and democracy? They all make me so angry. How many Americans would you have to kill to bring those dead Iraqis back to life? How many of the 4000 people who died on 9-11 have been brought back to life by sacrificing 100,000 Iraqis? Why is the response to an atrocity always to perpetrate another atrocity?

And I started thinking about the Australian Iraqi's and their condemnation of Under Mars. They just don't understand how important a site like Under Mars is to them. Here in America we've been fed a cleaned and polished version of the war. There are no Iraqi death counts on American television, no images of death or dismemberment or other horrors of war. It makes it so easy to ignore that way, and easier to support. Under Mars is one of the few places where people in the US can actually see what is going on. And if they see it, maybe they will react in horror and be appalled at what their country has done, and do something to try to change it.

But then I realized how foolish it was of my to think this.

Times have changed. Caring is a luxury in this country. The current generation works 140 hours a year more than the previous one and makes less money doing it. That's almost a whole working month less to spend on anything but working. I think a typical American would be outraged if they saw the pictures on Under Mars (I hope so, anyway) but I also think a typical American is overworked and underpaid and even if they realize that the nightly news is just propaganda, they probably don't have the time or the resources to get on the Internet and find out what is really going on. Even if they did, what are they going to do with that information? Protesting is a luxury item also. It takes time and money, two things most Americans have in short supply. Some have called Iraq another Viet Nam. I don't think this is accurate. Back then the news media did a better job informing the public, and the public had more time and energy with which to act on that information. Now we have a government-censored news media, and people with far less time who are on average poorer than the previous generation.

It is all too big. I can't see any way to turn the situation around. I just want to scream. Or maybe its just the caffiene makes me irritable.

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