Sunday, February 20, 2011

Like camels, we eat weeds & transport gold

Iraq is now experiencing its own days of rage, and I just finished this well-referenced article on the destruction of just one sector of civil society in Iraq, that of education.

Since the occupation began there has been a steady campaign of assassination against academics, and obviously a huge diaspora of intellectuals and professionals from Iraq. (If you don't want to download a .pdf to read "Dying education in the 'blossoming' Iraqi democracy," you can read it online here on David Swanson's blog, sans footnotes.)

There is an international seminar about to begin in Belgium, and the author of the article, Dirk Adriaensens, is a member of the Brussells Tribunal Executive Committee. The seminar being convened at the University of Ghent will examine "The Situation of the Iraqi Academics: Defending Education in Times of War and Occupation." You can find out more about it on their website.

I will never forget the U.S. looking away while the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad was looted during the shocking and awful attack on that city in 2003. Allowing thugs to convert an ancient, irreplacable collection into quick cash and baubles for the super wealthy presaged the destruction of a range of cultural resources under prolonged occupation, still underway.
This ivory "Nimrud Lioness" is half of a pair, on display in the British Museum. Still missing is the other half of the pair, which was looted from the National Museum of Iraq in 2003.
Adriaensens' article describes another sector of civil society unraveling, unraveling...

Youth of Iraq not whisked away to safer places by their elders have stayed behind to struggle. The article shared translations of some of the slogans they marched through the streets displaying on their Feb 25 "Day of Rage" and since:

* We are like camels, we eat weeds and transport gold

* Our annual income from oil is $100 billion, yet we cannot find bread to eat.

The second slogan struck me as having broad appeal in the "bread intifadas" springing up all over the globe. Camels may not travel far beyond the Arab world and its closest neighbors. But overburdened workers carrying the ultra rich on their backs can make common cause from continent to continent, and coast to coast.

This image of Ishtar, Mesopotamian goddess of love, was looted during the 19th-20th century period of colonial occupation, and resides in the British Museum at present.
The Flower Carrier by Diego Rivera

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