People often remember that the day of September 11, 2001, had beautiful weather. Today it is grey, humid and raining. But if my last couple hours at GMP were any indication, people are a bit more compassionate towards each other than they might've been otherwise. Over the phone, I hear happy voices, polite at the very least--even when I call cell phones.
These days, even Osama Bin Laden, looking a little younger in his dyed-black beard, seems mollified. In his latest video release, instead of urging Muslims to execute all Americans, he encouraged us heretics to convert to Islam. Odd, to say the least. There's some good coverage on Slate (my new favorite online resource) about Osama's propaganda platform. The Slaters suggest that it's not so much more Muslims Osama is after, but a homegrown army of Al Qaeda operatives. They have an American media guy in Al Qaeda now. I suppose that, frightening as the possibility is, it's only a matter of time before a movement gains momentum. Especially when Osama seems so young-ish and calm.
Incidentally, today I fished Nir Rosen's In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq from a big stack of copies in the basement section of Strand, a spot reserved for half-off discounts. Talk about a long overdue acquisition--I've been wanting to read this book for months. The back flap promises for a nuanced read: "In Arabic, tahrir, or liberation, and ihtilal, or occupation, have much greater moral and emotional significance. Ihtilal means the Crusaders who slaughtered Muslims, Jews, and Orthodox Christians, it means the Mongols who sacked Baghdad in the thirteenth century, it means the British imperialists who divided the spoils of the Ottoman Empire with the French, and it means the Israelis in southern Lebanon and Palestine. It is hard for Americans to understand just how deeply they are hated by ordinary Iraqis."
Finally, something historic about the war! That's been hard to come by, these days.