Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Harem Scarum

 --The Week magazine, 5.19.14 issue

Said I remember when we used to sit
In the government yard in Trenchtown
Oba, ob-serving the hypocrites
As they would mingle
with the good people we meet 
--No Woman No Cry, 
Bob Marley 

Woman is the nigger of the world...yes she is
If you don't believe me,
take a look at the one you're with
Woman is the slave to the slaves 
--Woman is the Nigger of the World, 
John Lennon

 “I have reason to believe Boko Haram
will see reason and let these girls go.
I think they will have a conscience
to let these girls go.”
Oronto Douglas, special adviser on strategy 
to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan

Tuning in to the BBC World Service last night, I heard that Scotland would be playing Nigeria (site of the recent ballyhooed kidnappings by Islamist group Boku Haram.) At topic was a serious issue, but it was not girls or kidnapping. It was Potential game-fixing by the Scotish Football Association (SFA), and it was discussed with animated solemnity.

Hearing this reminded me that book's like Foer's How Soccer Explains the World explain our actuality well. This is no judgement call, but the back field of our pretended concerns is always in motion, and it consists of the things in which we actually engage and which divert us, like watching sports.

Additionally, we now have the ability to slake off our emotions via broadcasting them over our social media networks, but this hullabaloo accomplishes naught in changing the actual shape of things. It does, however, dissipate enough of the participant's energy so that he will never actually be a potential threat to any status quo. It pits one versus the other in a simplistic partisan competition, mimicking the games we play out on the field, establishing franchises and affiliations, and opponents.

Take, for instance, the recent (but not unusual) low-level nasty work of Nigeria's Boku Haram:

The New York Times reported last week that Nigeria's army was "Holding Up the Hunt" for the abducted schoolgirls in Nigeria. "Foreign diplomats say that the Islamist group Boko Haram appears to be winning the struggle with a weak military." Yet Nigerian President Jonathan's policy strategist says "reason" and "conscience" will hold the day. 

Good luck with that.

And ... why is it we care? Not in the human, Christian, Enlightened sense, but WHY would we take any military action (U.S. Sends Troops to Chad to Aid Hunt for Nigerian Schoolgirls)? Puppies, kittens, girls -- most people become upset when the innocent are abused, but why would we risk even one soldier's life or limb over Nigeria's endemic problems? 

Is it because this Muslim group chose a really scary name? It sounds like the bogeyman from hell. Is it because they're taking young women and returning them impregnated -- the oldest "survival of the fittest" ruse in the book? Are we afraid there are sleeper cells of Boko Haram in Detroit or Cleveland, or that they'll come over here to get our women and children?

Islamist groups do these things, have been doing these things, for a long time now. Our intervention in the Middle East had nothing to do with it, unless you think they are clever enough to be committing these abductions to provoke the guys in white, like catnip to the cat. Nigerian's Islamic leader Abubakar Shekau said of the girls in a released video, "They are slaves and I will sell them because I have the market to sell them" 

If the military in their own nation is not too gung-ho on the matter, why should we be? Is it because we have a President who is as angry over veterans dying for lack of decent medical care as he is over women in Nigeria nation being kidnapped?   

It's not our sense of immense paternalism toward the weaker sex, though I'm sure the military would like to feel or project the notion that they really are doing some good in the world. No -- if this were so we'd be intervening in too many countries to name that subject their women to servitude, prostitution and worse. Women will continue to be the Second Sex until enlightenment reaches all humans.

Since this has not happened here in the belly of the democratic beast, do not expect it to be enforced upon a tribal warrior mindset anytime soon. No matter how many cups of tea you lay out, even with clotted cream, berries and scones.

 No way ... so why the pretense?

The Commentariat calls for action. The politicians send the military into harm's way. Everyone seems satisfied, not realizing that we are merely exchanging potential violence against our own citizens for the endemic violence of yet another Islamic culture.

Nothing will change; it is a zero-sum game, on the human level.

Why do the supposedly-concerned not do or call for doing the heavy-lifting of resolving some of the outrages in their own country and culture? Is it sound and fury, signifying nothing?

[adapted from RangerAgainstWar.]


  1. Didn't the British kidnap thousands of Boer women and children just over a hundred years ago, lock them up in concentration camps, and let one-in-four of them die from malnutrition, and typhoid? Abubakar Muhammad Shekau is a pipsqueak compared to Lord Kitchener.

    Never heard a peep from Teddy Roosevelt.

  2. Yes, mike, this Boku Haram (BH) is a real nothing in the gestalt of things. I can't see wasting ink on it, save as a side note in a course on perduring female subjugation, or perhaps a tiny example of fringe Islamic brutality.

    But to be something a US President or First Lady addresses, or for which US military personnel are deployed, no.

    This is hardly the stuff of Clausewitzian theory, and I did not expect it would get much play here. Yet it is another something which occupies the masses, and has a definite tie-in to the military. I suppose what most interests me is the legs that stories like this have, compared to say, the sad and quiet daily grind that so many of our soldiers face upon return from such hyped escapades.

    Everyone who participates at this site is reasoned and seeks balance, but the much-too-many who fill the airwaves with things like BH usually do so in a knee-jerk fashion, and you're either with us or against us. We have found invariably it is the people with most messed up personal lives who invest the most time trumpeting their outrage over remote incidents under the "progressive" banner, discharging their vitriol upon any who might question their rushed demands for action.

    These are the types who imagine they are for peace, yet cannot brook an alternative position to their outrage. They gleefully alienate and make enemies out of their fellow travelers.

    I suppose this phenomenon -- the human need to fight over any and everything -- is what I find most interesting. I will write a piece on blogging soon exploring any benefits and the profound limitations of the medium, which I suppose is coincident with the limitations of the human employing the medium.

  3. I'm not sure that this is really that complex, Lisa.

    I suspect that it is simply a variation on the standard-issue human desire to "do something" when something nasty occurs.

    Think about the number of times you read about people jumping in water to "save" someone and they end up drowing themselves. Or get burned trying to pull someone out of a fire. I think the same thing is going on here; the Western media pick up this story (let's face it, it hits all the right buttons; scary dusky people with weapons, little girls in danger) because it sells advertising. Westerners see it and their reaction is "Oh, how terrible! We should really do...something." Because the U.S. has a pantsload of military capability one of the first - if not THE first - reactions is to suggest sending soldiers to "fight the bad guys."

    The people - the We the People people - have no effing idea of the history of Nigeria, or the current events in Nigeria, or any damn thing about Nigeria for that matter. The "leaders", half of them, probably have little more notion themselves. So the push to "do something" almost invariably becomes "do something military", regardless of whether more soldiers can or can't (and I'll be the first one to admit that I have no effing idea if a mlitary expedition to Nigeria would help or harm the situation there but my usual instinct is to suspect that an influx of foreigners with weapons is usually not helpful...) do anything useful...

    And, as always, there are lots of emotional and political sidebars that allow for the nice Western people to bloviate about this stuff.

    200 years ago it was probably about the nasty neighbors over the next hill, now it's the nasty Muslims in the next continent.

  4. Oh, I agree, Chief -- not complex at all. Just standard-issue knee-jerk reaction, married to the ability to instantaneously broadcast said reaction. Everyone wants to be "liked" or "poked", so most function within the safety of their news feeds, and snipe at those who might present an opposing viewpoint. Once they slake off their impotent frustration, they can return to their regularly-scheduled programming, feeling somewhat vindicated.

    What I wonder is, why not stay on station to begin with? Why not the old, "Think globally, act locally?" Why do so many average people feel so compelled to demand rash action everywhere else?

    Disappointing is the rush to judgement and military action by our politicians, but as you say, the more places the U.S. can find to deploy troops, the more justification for maintaining that capability.