Historical remarks via lowercase post #2

Monday, 4 June 2007

Written 1,700 days before 20 January 2001.

I talked with Orion Cervio on the phone for a half an hour. He called from Zimbabwe (I think?) on his way to Mozambique. He had it fixed so he could call for free. It was great to talk to him. Africa…

I saw something on the news yesterday (which is probably why I’m in this mood) that changed me. They don’t edit the news here. You see what you see. They also don’t warn you to send your children into the other room (the barbarians). They are having some civil wars in Africa as you may be aware. In fact they still carry on a grand slave trade in a lot of the central NE; not good PR for black America’s case for moral superiority–after all, the west coast black Africans taught the Portuguese the slave trade, cashing in big on the first sales; more irony would surely take me straight to my grave. I saw some footage from Monrovia… I don’t know if I should describe it but I think I need to. So as a pal for a change, I’m telling you, you may not want to read this.

There was a small group of men, all black Africans, with machine guns; AK-47s I think. They were on a city street, not wearing uniforms or anything. There was no shouting or noise. There was one man with his hands tied in heavy rope. He was naked. They unbound his hands and yelled at him. He started running. He got five barefoot steps and one of the men with a machine gun casually shot him. Pop-pop-pop. He didn’t even aim, he just extended one arm and fired a short burst. The naked man fell onto the street and didn’t move for about five seconds, then he started to try to raise himself up; one elbow pointing to the sky, both palms flat on the tarmac. Another man with a machine gun walked over and shot him once in the back of the head. Pieces of the skull went flying into the street. The naked body collapsed flat. No one cheered or clapped or yelled or acted like anything had happened at all.

This was the first thing I saw in my mind when I woke up this morning. I don’t know how to shake it exactly. I feel much less safe with the world. Men like the four or five on that street corner in Monrovia inhabit every corner of the world. Men like them occasionally gain entrance to the Congress and White House. To see the bottom line of all the arguments solidified into twenty seconds of human action. That was… I’m not sure. I only know I don’t like living in a world with it.

Copy Queen Papers (part 2), May 1996

To clarify an ambiguous clause—I love living; I don’t like sharing any of the parts of the human world these men and women represent.

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