Sunday, June 6, 2010

I don't write poems but, in any case, poems are not poems.


Ghassan Hage

Long ago, I was made to understand that Palestine was not Palestine;
I was also informed that Palestinians were not Palestinians;
They also explained to me that ethnic cleansing was not ethnic cleansing.
And when naive old me saw freedom fighters they patiently showed me that
they were not freedom fighters, and that resistance was not resistance.
And when, stupidly, I noticed arrogance, oppression and humiliation they
benevolently enlightened me so I can see that arrogance was not arrogance,
oppression was not oppression, and humiliation was not humiliation.

I saw misery, racism, inhumanity and a concentration camp.
But they told me that they were experts in misery, racism, inhumanity and
concentration camps and I have to take their word for it: this was not misery,
racism, inhumanity and a concentration camp.
Over the years they've taught me so many things: invasion was not invasion,
occupation was not occupation, colonialism was not colonialism and
apartheid was not apartheid.

They opened my simple mind to even more complex truths that my poor brain
could not on its own compute like: "having nuclear weapons" was not
"having nuclear weapons," "not having weapons of mass destruction" was
"having weapons of mass destruction."

And, democracy (in the Gaza Strip) was not democracy.
Having second class citizens (in Israel) was democracy.
So you'll excuse me if I am not surprised to learn today that there were more
things that I thought were evident that are not: peace activists are not
peace activists, piracy is not piracy, the massacre of unarmed people is not
the massacre of unarmed people.

I have such a limited brain and my ignorance is unlimited.
And they're so fucking intelligent. Really.

Ghassan Hage is professor of anthropology and social theory at the University of Melbourne.

1 comment:

agith g antony said...

its so forceful,
with a single stroke (i was made to understand) you set the tone of what to follow..

and the force implied in (i was made to understand) tell it that
'we are made to understand, we are made to believe, in things...which otherwise we would have questionned...

how 'consent' is being manufactured for the cruelty, oppression, - and all is being done in the name of 'democracy, and liberty.