Fox hates the protesters, the U.S. hates the French, and Slovenia wants out! Plus: War comes to a playground in Brooklyn.
Fox News outdid itself during an antiwar rally on Thursday in New York, replacing the war updates on its Sixth Avenue ticker with insults for the protesters. Ever known for its subtle humor, Fox ran cheery little messages such as “Attention protesters: the Michael Moore Fan Club meets Thursday at a phone booth at Sixth Avenue and 50th Street,” and “War protester auditions here today … thanks for coming!” It was actually quite sweet of the Fox folks, considering how much more fun those tickers are to read when they’re not informing us of missing American soldiers or Iraqi civilian deaths — you know, the news.
- – - – - – - – - – - -
As if the whole freedom fries fiasco wasn’t enough, now Air Force One is calling its french toast “freedom toast.” Ah, nothing like a little government-sanctioned pettiness. And if Germany is feeling left out, looks like a school in the U.S. dissed them this week too:
Oakland High School in Murfreesboro, Tenn., jettisoned its German-English exchange program last week, according to the Associated Press. Even though the principal insists the trip was canceled for security reasons, the students aren’t buying that explanation. One of the German students said: “We were really shocked and felt like we’d been taken for a ride.” Antiwar Americans know just how she feels.
In another shining example of transatlantic vitriol: A 72-year-old Briton living in Southern France has legally changed his name from Eric Bush to Eric Buisson, which is French for “Bush,” claiming he doesn’t want to keep a name which will “go down in history as the name of a tyrant.”
Oh well, if Bush doesn’t achieve all his goals in Iraq, at least he’s helping to build a united Europe.
- – - – - – - – - – - -
Not all of America’s current miscommunications with the rest of the world are pure malice, however. Some can be chalked up to basic stupidity. Turns out the U.S. mistakenly included Slovenia as a member of its ever-shrinking “coalition of the willing.” Slovenia has requested that the error be corrected — which means they’re out the $4.5 million that was originally slated to them in the war budget. Perhaps the money will go toward healthcare, education, or Social Security, but somehow we doubt it.
- – - – - – - – - – - -
First Person: Brooklyn in wartime
On the day the bombing of Baghdad begins, my kids and I are at Park Slope’s Ninth Street playground when a few dozen African-American schoolchildren in Muslim dress come charging in to join us. Big girls in headscarves take the swings on either side of my 4-year-old daughter and me. They pump hard, leaning back for extra momentum, and one girl sings out with joy, “No Arabic today!” In their long skirts and dark tights, they remind me of the Orthodox Jewish girls who often use the playgrounds of Prospect Park — with their mothers in headscarves, their brothers in side curls. As the girls play, 10 police helicopters begin to circle low overhead. I learn later that the display is part of the funeral pageantry for a murdered detective, but that morning we grown-ups think that helicopters mean danger. I exchange a look with the Caribbean woman who is watching the kids whom my kids have met for a play date. “Let’s get out of here,” we say.
I am reminded of 9/11. That morning, unable to absorb the size of the catastrophe taking place a few miles from my home, I turned off the radio, loaded the kids into the double stroller and pushed them to the playground. Normally packed on such a fine day, it was deserted but for a few other disoriented women and their children. While our kids climbed shrieking around us, we mothers sat on the equipment and took turns listening to the news on my Walkman. When we could smell and then see the debris cloud, we packed up the little ones again and walked out of the park, only to encounter disheveled office workers wandering home.
In Brooklyn these days, I am enjoying unfathomable privileges — peace and prosperity — and everywhere around me noticing shadows of war. My daughter used to think that the Muslim women we saw on the street were various versions of Maria, the Catholic novice from “The Sound of Music,” but now she knows well enough to point and shout, “Look, Mommy, Muslims!” I stop at the newsstand to visit Abdul from Yemen, and as he admires how my kids have grown I learn that his wife is about to bear his sixth child. He shows me pictures; he’s brought all of them to Brooklyn now. I wonder if he has heard of the Al-Farooq mosque over on Atlantic Avenue, which was shut down when its members were found to be funneling millions to al-Qaida. On the morning the bombing begins, we smile at each other extra hard.
I have never mentioned the war to my daughter, yet over breakfast — with NPR murmuring in the background — she points to the radio and says, “Is that the war they’re talking about? What’s a war?” In my fumbled answer I use the word “battle,” and she says, “Battle? Like the Mouse King in the Nutcracker?” Even at that moment, I am pleased that her cultural references are so sophisticated. She has seen the New York City Ballet perform at Lincoln Center. My 2-year-old son prances around the kitchen stabbing imaginary foes. “I’m the Mouse King! I kill you!” My daughter knows Frances Hodgson Burnett’s story of the Little Princess — whose father goes to fight in a war and is long presumed dead. Worried, she wants to know if her father will fight in this war. “Oh, no,” I am happy to reassure her. “Papa is much, much too old.”
My daughter attends afternoon pre-K at P.S. 321, which holds shelter drills when the bombing of Baghdad begins. For my benefit, she imitates a tinkling alarm and then explains how she took her partner’s hand and marched into the hallway, where the children sat on the floor with their backs to the walls. Why? I ask her, stupidly. To get away, she explains, from anything outside the windows. Days before, I’d overheard a teacher in that hallway greet a little boy who will be starting school in the fall. “See you in pre-K next year, Jihad!”
On the day that the “shock and awe” bombing begins, I am standing on the sidewalk opposite Beth Elohim, the elegant synagogue on Eighth Avenue that now draws a police presence on the Jewish holidays. I think about how I love my multiethnic home — Brooklyn — once known as “the borough of churches.” I am comforting my son, who is worn-out and howling, and at the same time I am working hard to put out of my head thoughts of children in Baghdad screaming in terror and pain.
– Eileen Kelly
Sheerly Avni is a freelance writer living in Oakland. More Sheerly Avni.
More Related Stories
- My text blew up in my face
- Boy Scouts end ban on openly gay boys
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- Billionaire hedge funder: Babies, breast-feeding "kill" focus, keep women from succeeding
- "Bookless library" set to open in Texas
- Man arrested for sending Craigslist sex party to neighbor's house
- Greek yogurt, toxic waste hazard?
- Glenn Beck: CNN interview with atheist tornado survivor was a setup!
- Incoming BBC news director on journalism gender gap: "We can do better"
- Illegal construction, shoddy materials at fault in Bangladesh factory disaster
- Pope Francis: Atheists are all right!
- Lawsuit alleges anti-gay hiring practices at ExxonMobil
- Boy Scouts poised to vote, still greatly divided on gay youth
- Is recreational pot use safe?
- How I ended up in a pyramid scheme
- My bipolar partner beat me
- Teenagers care more about online privacy than you think
- Radio host tweets rape joke, blames journalists for reporting on it
- El Salvador court delays ruling on abortion case while woman's life hangs in the balance
- Kicked out of the mall -- for an anti-cancer hat
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11