Sunday, August 23

What if a plane crashed and nobody remembered it: would it still exist

Another week and another man let go while Aung San Suu Kyi is still imprisoned by the walls of her house, with another year and a half just added to the sentence that was about to expire when American John Yettaw decided to force himself upon her. John Yettaw has since been freed and allowed to return home to the US. This week's political release was someone found guilty of killing 288 people in 1988. Convicted by the Scottish judiciary system following the explosion and subsequent crash of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, Abdel Baset el-Megrahi was diagnosed in prison with prostate cancer. Now expected to live only months, he was released on so-called "compassionate grounds," allowed by Scottish law.

Nasty rumors are rampant. After the newly freed man was given a hero's welcome as he stepped off the plane in his home country of Libya, Libyan leaders loudly and profusely thanked the British government for freeing him, citing it as a welcome accomplishment of a oft-sought goal in trade negotiations between Libya and Britain. Britsh officials have, of course, roundly denied this preposterous idea. Whatever might possibly persuade any part of the waning British empire to consider freeing a man who their own judiciary found guilty of murdering hundreds of innocent civilians, most of them American?

Hmmm. Could it be that slimy old rascal who keeps appearing in all the trouble spots of the world, our old friend OIL? Why, as a matter of fact, Libya does just happen to have, as the British are wont to say in that lovely, melodic way they have of making English sound courtly still, "lots and lots and lots of" yessirree, oil. In fact, Prince Andrew was just preparing to leave on a special trade mission to Libya when all this unwelcome attention fell on the issues of Libyan/British relationships.

Compassion. I rather like compassion. I like it when kitties are rescued from trees, when traffic is held up by pedestrians to give an elderly woman more time to make a crossing, when a student who is genuinely ill is given a second chance to take a missed final examination. I don't mind it when prisoners are allowed to work away from prison or given conjugal visits in nice, private rooms or time to cuddle with their children. In many, many cases I wouldn't even mind it if an elderly prisoner was allowed to return home to die.

But not a mass murderer. Not someone whose disregard for life cost nearly three hundred people their lives and the thousands of people who loved those 288 people the long-lasting pain of sudden, unanticipated loss that leaves you hanging like a brown leaf from a burned out tree in the center of a battlefield. This is not compassion. This is disrespect. This is haunting, chilling, frightful disrespect.

And if it turns out in any way to be related to a favorable trade deal, may the spirits of those 288 dead haunt the British ministers into their own early graves.

Saturday, August 15

Making the World Safe for...Mormons?

It didn't take long. John Yettaw has been released from custody by the Myanmar regime. Apparently, even tyrants and jail guards are sick to death of listening to the unlikely story of Joseph White's rendez-vous with divinity and looking at John Yettaw's pathetically pale and flacid visage. He's on his way back to the good old USA. Aung San Suu Kyi, who did no wrong except to show compassion? She was let out on a leash for a meeting with American Senator Jim Webb, but now (whew! I felt so endangered for those 40 minutes!) she is back home and the world we live in is back to its usual complacent self. And just what will the delightful Mr. Yettaw be up to next? Will he try to rescue Daw Kyi a third time? I can hardly wait to see the movie.

I don't like to feel cynical, but this fills me with despair. Senator Webb should have offered a trade: The General gets to keep Mr. Yettaw; Aung San Suu Kyi gets sent home with Mr. Webb. Not that I'm sure she would go. Again, the wait for the movie. Maybe Gus Van Sant could do it?

Friday, August 14

Rescuing Innocents Abroad

If I had readers other than my faithful few friends today's entry would be risky. I would like to express a mean and nasty sentiment, which in all my readings of newspapers, magazines and online commentaries, I have not yet seen articulated by anyone: that perhaps the two reporters rescued from the jurisdiction of North Korea by Bill Clinton should have been left to their fate there.

I know. I feel as nasty as Sarah Palin right now, as slimy as Newt, as despicable as the meanie rabblerousers at recent town meetings on health care. I am not being kind and generous. I am not even acknowledging that the two reporters convicted by North Korea of espionage are women, delicate looking women, with husbands and a child at home. Would I feel differently if the two of them were thick necked and hirsute, with knotty muscled biceps and triceps? If they were Republicans? If they were French?

I guess I don't know, though I suspect not. I feel like these two reporters should have been very well aware of the risks of what they were doing, scouting around the borders of the Koreas digging up information unfavorable to the regime on the other side of the borderline. They were, after all, studying and writing about Koreans. Was there something about the border they forgot? Was there something about Kim Jong-il's face they thought suggested leniency or tenderness?

I feel the same way about these two reporters that I do about the Mormon missionary who swam across the lake to violate Aung San Suu Kyi. His family members are saying, "How could he have known?" He knew. The reporters knew. We should be rescuing the innocent, not those who knowingly violate borders. There are plenty of innocents incarcerated if we are looking for people to rescue.

Tuesday, August 11

Our Trespasses

Some days you want to bang your head against the nearest, padded cell wall.

Aung San Suu Kyi has had her house arrest extended by a year and a half because some American idiot heard God talking to him and forced himself upon her property, her life, her extenuating circumstances. He was out to save her. The American is always out to save someone. On a smaller than usual, yet still globally significant scale, we've invaded another territory where we had absolutely no business. And then, to compound the cruel irony, the woman who was stalked by this American loony was put on trial. And sentenced. For his transgression.

Why are we always trying to save people based on crazy notions of mission? Why do we always blame God? For some reason, perhaps it's the fact that this brave and exemplary woman, a model for her people and all people, is being sentenced to imprisonment because someone trespassed on her property, the solemn lines from the Lord's Prayer occur to me: "And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." Aung San Suu Kyi took pity on the cold, weak man who swam across the lake and collapsed on her shores. She let her companions tend his needs.

It also reminds me of when my younger sister had an imaginary friend named Jiffy. Whenever Sandy was asked critical questions like, "Do you know who stuck their old chewing gum on the picnic table bench in the hot sunshine before Grandma sat down to enjoy an iced tea?" the answer, unfailingly, unblinkingly, was always, "Uh huh. Jiffy did it."

I'm sure Aung San Suu Kyi feels a whole lot better as her health fails and she is locked up in her own house for another 18 months to know that God willed it. I'll be watching to see how much of his own sentence the trespasser is actually made to serve.