Monday, May 31, 2010

Middle Earth, Middle Innings, Middle Ages

It's a rainy day, I have to go into work and, quite frankly, I'm in a foul mood. Why, you ask? I don't even know where to begin, so I'll just throw it all at the wall and let you decipher the Rorschachian mess:

In a remarkably sucky turn, Guillermo del Toro has stepped down as director of "The Hobbit". At the risk of sounding positively pollyannaish, it's a shame that art has to be so beholden to business. If and when this movie is ever completed, whomever holds the keys stands to make a fortune; that it will happen before the planet implodes in 2012, however, is now unlikely. And here I was, drinking a pumpkin spice latte in my Orc mask, getting all giddy with the Prince of Mirkwood.  *sigh*

Oliver Perez has refused to sequester himself in Port St. Lonesome, and he's rightfully drawn the ire of his teammates. He's the poster child for the old adage, "million dollar arm, ten cent head".

I'm sure the Wilpons would prefer that he Trachsels himself rather than having to Bonilla him, but just how long can they  persist with a 23-man roster (yes, I'm looking you dead in the eye, Gary Matthews, Jr.)? It's not going to take long for #46 to become Public Enemy #1. Scott Boras? Laughing maniacally in his subterranean Arctic lair office.

Facebook caved and permitted shrill, bloody, subjugating fascism to prevail over free speech. I'm not particularly religious, but I get the furor. Islam isn't just a religion in many parts of the world, it also comprises the cultural, artistic and educational tenets (to name but a few) of their respective societies. What I don't understand, however, is the failure of Muslim fundamentalists to comprehend that liberty in this life is just as sacrosanct as paradise in the next. One doesn't trump the other. Tolerance is a two-way street.

When I hear indictments of the "new crusade" , I'm forced to ask, "Is the global Caliphate any different?" Fundamentalists seek in one breath the very thing they decry in the next. Furthermore, I'm beyond sick and well past tired of their justifications. From Beslan to Bali, innocents have paid the price for crimes they didn't commit. But to the irrational, there is no neutrality outside of their sphere, their interpretation, their fist.

I'd joined the military, in part after seeing an Army Ranger being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. I stood dumbstruck as a somber procession of 19 hearses lurched past me on Dover Air Force Base, just in from the Khobar Towers bombing. Throw in the U.S.S. Cole and the U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania for good measure.

I've listened endlessly to bin Laden's reasons for the 1998 fatwa. What I never hear, sadly, is the entire story:

What of NATO interceding to halt the Serbian genocide of Muslim Bosnians? Those were American pilots assisting in the effort, Osama. That was an American F-117 shot down. All I ever heard from you, of course,  was indignation over the Iraqi sanctions and our support of Israel. For all the gnashing of teeth over the latter, what of Iran's support of Hezbollah and threatening to wipe a sovereign nation off the map? How about Syria aiding Venezuela and acting as a turnstile for insurgents entering northeastern Iraq? Saudi Arabia bankrolling global terrorism? The unspeakable profanity of American troops soiling the beloved Arabian Peninsula? Hell, the U.S. actually ceded and removed them. Your response? Silence. You amended your demands to include any Muslim country. As Billy Bragg so aptly sang, you're moving the goalposts.

As a father to a child whose world would be irrevocably different from mine, I watched the smoke rise from the towers on 9/11. As a son of liberty, I take no umbrage when a mosque rises from its ashes. See how I did that? No frantic exhortations, no bomb-laden backpack, no airplanes hijacked and flown squarely into the Kaaba. I am host to a seething that can never be excised, mind you, but it ends where your nose begins.

In "Body of Lies", embattled operative Roger Ferris throws this at his captor and soon-to-be decapitator:

"Are you pure or are you just as corrupt as the capitalist Westerners you despise? To me, you are all f---ing slaves. You're slaves to the Saudi oil sheiks and the Wahabi oil money that funds you. And when that oil money runs out, my friends, you will all f---ing disappear into the ashes of history."

Me? I've two qualities which keep me from joining the fray any further: a respect for others and an unabashed affinity for my head. If Sharia comes to these shores, I'll gladly die fighting it. Until then, I'm content to drone on here with the hope that radical fundamentalism gives way to the likes of Salah-ah Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub.

Lest you think I've gone all McNeil-Lehrer on you, I'm aware of the disparity in our sheik-to-geek ratio today. To rectify this, I'd humbly ask that you see "Human Centipede" post-haste and kindly report back with your findings. It looks so bad, it looks good.

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