Archive - Jul 2006

July 18th

Israel And Its Amazing Friends

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I have no answers for Israel and its neighbors, in case you were wondering.

It's entirely outside my area of expertise. Olmert's not a funny name. You can't make much of a dick joke about it, even with a party named Likud. And I can't take a side. It's not that I'm afraid to, for fear of offending my Lebanese readership contingent. It's just that what we're looking at right now is the culmination of dozens of years of people being faced with a few options on how to proceed, and repeatedly taking the one that's just shy of the worst possible decision they could make.

It's like there are four doors. And one leads to complete and total war and destruction. One leads to peace and reconciliation. One leads to a tiger. And one leads to unfortunate actions that will lead to the furthering of grudges and resentment amongst the various populations. And every single time, that's the door everyone picks. It is the grayest of gray areas, the geopolitical halftone, and that's poison to polemics.

So instead I'm going to pick on Becky Hamoud.

One huge disadvantage to being mostly and temporarily cut off from my usual omnipresent access to the Intertube Global Stuffnet is that I find myself watching local news. And local news is awful. I know. Like airplane food back in the day when airplanes served food, local news' awfulness has gone from truism to cliche. But like gravity, its constant presence doesn't make it any less true.

So I'm watching the Channel 4 WCCO news, and there's one of those stories that local news loves - a local family tangentially involved in a global crisis. In this case, Becky Hamoud and her son Brent, who made it out on one of the last flights from Beirut before the airport was bombed. Which is fine. Run of the mill stuff. Except for two things that pissed me off. The first was WCCO's fault.

As footage of the airport explosions rolled, a chyron popped up to tell us where the bombings were taking place: beautiful, downtown BERIUT. Now, I'm not immune to typos, but there's one word on the screen, there are six letters in it, and it's the site of probably the most important events happening in the world right now. You'd think someone would have noticed.

But no. They were too entranced by Becky Hamoud and her attempt to ensure that "I thought you were going to ask me about the pig" and "you’d have to say to yourself this is, in fact, World War III"* would be the second and third dumbest things said about this new violence. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"And even though my heart is still there, this is God's way of telling me, "You're not supposed to be there, I want you home with your family." - Becky Hamoud, in reference to her being unable to book a later flight out of the country pre-bombing that would have ended up leaving her trapped there post-bombing.

Is this what you people mean by a personal relationship with God? Really? It's such a personal relationship that he makes hundreds of other people book a Friday flight out of "Beriut" International Airport so that you'll be able to thank him on the local news for getting you home? And what kind of divine intervention is that? If God really cared about Becky Hamoud, he'd have let her take the later flight out, then appeared before his chosen people and told them that blowing up airport fuel tanks wouldn't actually improve the situation.

This isn't God's hand. This is statistics. We get to hear about Becky because she's the outlying data point. WCCO isn't about to send a film crew to Lebanon to interview the grumpy, pissed off clump of dots that wanted to leave on Friday, but who apparently pissed off God at some point because they don't get to be home with their families.

Don't get me wrong. It's not that WCCO doesn't CARE about all those other people. It's just that all their Expedia searches on BERIUT came up empty.

*That'd be George W. Bush and Newt Gingrich, respectively.