Our People

Someone, give me something here. Someone, human, divine, give me words to rail against this because I see it, I read it, I look, and I don’t even have the breath to gasp at the casual savagery of it:

If we’re looking at an Islamic civil war, then vast numbers of good people will die, from Libya to Oman. Luckily, they won’t have to be our people. In the very worst-case scenario, the Middle East could blow up – and we could bug out, pronto. “This is the good news?” you ask. Yes, and I’ll explain why.

Our people. Tbogg quotes the rest of it, and gives the appropriate imagery in response. I can’t. I can’t get past that one little bit. Our people.

It’s … I think this might be it. Our people. Simpler than “five in the noggin,” with a crystal clarity missing from “Muslims in America” and a sort of stirring call to unity absent from all the justifications of torture and inhumanity that have gone before it. It draws such lovely distinctions, such wonderfully pragmatic conclusions. We care, precisely this much. About our people.

I’ve got the shakes now, from the chill of it. Our people. They won’t be our people, the dead. They won’t be mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, they won’t die bleeding, they won’t seek vengeance, and they sure as hell won’t see the sort of hysterical almost — God — laughter in the question when it comes: why do they hate us? In another fifty years, we’ll ask, my future grandchildren will come home and ask, why do they hate us? Perhaps this is the answer, as well as the impetus for the question. They’re not our people. They hate us and so we hate them and on and on, forever and ever. For Thine is the kingdom. Your God and his rules for you and mine for me, and each of us, for our people.

My father took me to see the Merchant of Venice when I was 12 years old. If you poison us, do we not die … Hath not Iraqis senses, affections, passions? Hath no one these things, I think is the better question, if Mister Shakespeare’s modern counterpart were to take up the question. If you prick us, we do not bleed. Not for one another, not anymore.

They won’t be our people. Whose people are they, then? And, a scarier question, whose people, then, are we?