Friday, September 11, 2015

Wilkommen, bienvenu, later

It's Casablanca in reverse.  Tens of thousands of desperate people, trying to get from the Middle East and North Africa to Germany, exploited by human traffickers more pitiless than Ugarte and Ferrari, abused by officials who make Louis Renault look like the Dalai Lama.  Watching them, you realize what was absent from the classic film:  children.  Old couples, young couples, Ilsa and Rick briefly reunited, but no children.  Not even Moroccan children playing in the bazaar.  The filmmakers understood that children change everything.  They break your heart.

How magnanimous of the world's richest nation to promise it will take in ten thousand refugees, next year some time, if they remembered to bring their passports and birth certificates and can be vetted by the Ministry of Love  Department of Homeland Security.  Economically struggling Ireland, with a population smaller than New York City's, has agreed to accept six thousand.  We could settle ten thousand people in depopulated cities like Detroit and New Orleans and never notice, but it's an election year (when is it not?) and our right-wing xenophobes can out-scream Hungary's any day of the week.  I suppose Pope Francis will bring it up when he speaks to Congress, but as soon as he mentions climate change and economic justice, most of them will tune out and start playing with their phones, scheming to grab a selfie with the pontiff for their Facebook pages.

This being the fourteenth anniversary of the Worst Day of All Time, it occurs to me we can finance this, and much besides, with an Ill-Gotten Gains tax.  Cheney, Bush, and everyone else who benefited financially from the pointless, unjustifiable, region-destabilizing invasion of Iraq, should be assessed one percent of their personal wealth to cope with the consequences of their greed.  It's not realistic to expect them to face trial as war criminals, and they will still be obscenely rich.  Because this is only going to get worse.  As their country is bombed daily by the Saudi Arabian air force flying American and British aircraft, the Yemenis will be the next to hit the road.  Expect a lot more Libyans to flee that mayhem and put their fate in the hands of the Italian navy.  The Turks will keep on harrying the Kurds, against all reason -- who else has had as much success fighting ISIS?  And then there's Somalia...

But let's keep arguing about Tom Brady and his footballs.   




Blogger john_burke100 said...

Like the Perelman, this is just by way of thanks. It appeared in Punch in (i think) 1954, and left a really strong impression on my pre-teenage mind, particularly the second stanza--so strong that I was able to do a Google search on "it right to elide an O or E' and come up with the text. Unfortunately the name of the author wasn't given, and bound volumes of Punch, which according to legend used to clutter the parlors of seaside boarding-houses, seem to have disappeared. But the verse itself is lovely, especially for one who, like me, had frequent, involuntary exposure to the Anglican Hymnal. I think there's a technical term for poetry that describes its own method of constructions, like Swinburne's "A Roundel is Wrought," but I can't remember it.

1. I love the hymns that put
Two three-foot lines in front,
And then bring in an extra foot
To give the third a bunt.

2. With Latin prosody
These learned authors thought
It right to elide an "O" or "E"
To achieve the effect they sought.

3. Nor was their work the worse,
In that they had the nerve
Their verbal order to reverse,
And verbs for rhymes reserve.

4. How simple was their faith,
These sober, staid, divines,
Who buttressed an established Church
With weakly founded lines,

5. And still maintain, today,
When faith has more to meet,
The even tenor of their way
In odd iambic feet.

9:38 PM  

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