Today was kind've cool.
I went into Tokyo for work today, and had a tour of the Japanese equivilant of the Library of Congress. Many of you might be saying, "wow, the significance of such a place would certainly be lost on you," and I whole-heartedly agree with you. I got a temporary membership card under the name "Eddie Vedder." After that we walked around the Japanese Diet building (Parliament, not Slim Fast) and headed back. I always like being around a country's Brain Bug. I call it Brain Bug because when I was back in DC for the first time since 4th grade a year and a half or so ago, I really felt like I was in some sort of mind fuck, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The monuments, the museums, etc... I guess the a Country's Capitol really reflects what's going on in the nation. Keep in mind, my only references are the USA, Japan, and Kabul. The walled fortress surrounding Karzai's Compound in Kabul, while the guards outside make snowmen and goof around on bicycles. America's grandeur, money, monuments, and museums, coexisting with poverty, illegal immigrants, and violence. And Japan - quiet, unassuming, low key; right next to the Imperial Palace, surrounded by hypermodern skyscrapers with PRUDENTIAL FINANCIAL eblazoned on the uppermost stories. That might seem trite, but it's how it seems. I guess I've been to a few other Nation's Capitols, but I don't feel like I knew enough about the places or had spent enough time in them to really give an accurate (or horribly skewed) assessment on how it affected me.
So I've been following the Koran thing pretty closely. Q'uran, Quran, we'll call it Koran for this post, because I don't know Arabic. The lowdown, if you happen to be living in a wigwam or cast on a reality TV series, is Newsweek reported that interrogators at Gitmo flushed a Koran down the toilet to frazzle some detainees. My first reaction to this, as with 90% of the "atrocities" committed at prisons housing suspected Taliban and Al Qaida suspects, was "well duh." Having attended SERE school
, not a whole lot that has hit the news has really surprised me. I haven't even heard anything about prisoners getting the shit slapped out of them or getting punched in the stomache, but that's neither here nor there.
In any case, I'm having mixed feelings about the whole thing. I guess I'd like to be mad at someone, but i don't really feel like expending emotional energy to decide who to be mad at, let alone be mad at someone who I don't even know. The bottom line for me is kind've obvious [trite], like most of the things that fly out of my mouth. Allow me to quote The Lord of the Rings:"A WIZARD SHOULD KNOW BETTER"
(the wizard, in this case, being an influencial periodical)
Information is power, and with power comes responsibility (oh look, I'm quoting Spiderman now. I'm officially lame.) You can't tell me that Newsweek wouldn't know the reprecussions of such an article. As you may have noticed, people in countries like Afghanistan and other middle eastern countries are often either on the verge of or in the middle of being outraged about something. When I see them on the news, all I can think of is "outrage." IM OUTRAGED! THIS IS AN OUTRAGE! That's the gist of what they're feeling.
But can we blame them about being outraged when a magazine with the credibility and influence of Newsweek published that people are flushing their holiest of holies down the toilet in Cuba? Would many Americans be outraged if Newsweek published an article about the Cuban Government sponsoring a fieldtrip to Washington DC where everyone took a dump on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial? That's a shitty example (excuse the pun) - I don't think most Americans can really relate to what the Koran is to many Muslims, particularly impoverished, fervent Muslims (I sure can't), so they just brush it off and wonder why they don't "chill the freak out."
Well, I can't really blame them. To me, the blame lies on Newsweek. Blaming the source of the information, credible or not, seems a little bit like blaming a gun dealer for selling a gun to an irresponsible person who they perceived to be responsible. Using information to incite violence is a time old tradition, and it would be a shame for popular magazines to be perceived as inciting violence against the USA to forward some fucked up political agenda. I'm not gonna jump out that window just yet, but thinking of power-brokers doing whatever they can, whatever the sacrifice of human life, to forward their personal or political agenda, is not too farfetched. I guess how people feel on it is dependent upon which team, if any, they're going for.
That's all for now--