Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Watts, Err, London riots, MEK Apologists, Diana Nyad Fails

Joe Nocera

The riots in London remind me of when we had rioting in Detroit and Los Angeles. The rioting them seemed impossible to predict, unless you lived in the neighborhoods in question. What bothers me is the British government calling people responsible for the rioting terrorists. The phrase is used much too freely and loosely... The last government to call its war against its citizens is the Syrian government, rolling in the tanks and killing "outside terrorists" during the holy month of Ramadan. No wonder that Saudi Arabia and Turkey have tried to get Assad to stop. But, he and those surrounding him are way over the edge of sanity, and the only way out for them will be either jail or a bullet... Britiain will have to do some soul searching, it's one thing to allow immigrants into your country, but if you don't give them paths to assimilate, then you end up with ghettos filled with poor, bitter people, preyed upon by predators and drug pushers.

There are whole generations who have lived in London and never found a job to sustain themselves. Mix with the teenage rebellious spirit, and it's easy to see why looting erupted. Unfortunately, a Sony warehouse was set on fire, burning hundreds of thousands of music cds, movie dvds, and vinyl records, a cultural loss that will be felt across Europe for quite some time...

There is a certain group of Iranians living in Iraq, known as the MEK. They were originally a counter-insurgency group that wanted to wage guerilla war against Iran. When the US invaded, they had to take the tanks that they originally gave them, and tried to quarantine them in one village. The village was supposed to have been under American protection, but raids from the new Iraqi army have happened "by mistake" from time to time. The MEK army is also on the US terrorist watch list.

There have been recent efforts by some members of Congress to get the MEK off of the terrorist list. This is the preliminary work so that we can then bring the MEK to the US as special immigrants, about 10,000 in one swoop. We may leave individuals we hired as translators and contractors, but the MEK will survive... Could be worse, in Afghanistan, the US has processed a whopping total of two visa applications, one of them was denied...

The PR pablum that was given out, was that Diana Nyad, the 61 year old marathon swimmer, was doing it for the rest of us, and us old farts could take pride in ourselves and our being over age 60. Except Diane had to quit halfway between her destination of Havana, Cuba, and Key West, Florida. Her body was exhausted, and she just couldn't swim anymore. In her statement to the press afterwards, Ms Nyad had the incredible bad taste of saying: "I don't know if there's a more famous stretch of ocean than the one between Cuba and Florida. How many Cubans are on the bottom of the ocean who didn't make it across?"

I guess that's the question, Diana. How many Cubans attempted the 103 mile swim as an attention getting device, hoping to tie it to the goals of their fading youth? I would have been more impressed if Ms Nyad had taken all of the money she had raised and given it to a Cuban charity instead of pocketing it all for the sake of 60 plus individuals everywhere...

Instead of taking joy in your smarmy urgings for folks over 60 to live passionately and intensely, I will take the bitter advice of the Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, who, in his drunken fashion, bid us to:

rage, rage against the dying light,
oh do not go gentle into that good night

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