Sunday, August 13, 2006

Damien Cave Plays the Fool so Perfectly

You gentlemen can watch while I'm scrubbing the floor
And I'm scrubbing the floor while you're gawking
Maybe once you tipped me and it made you feel swell
In a ratty waterfront

In this ratty, old hotel
But you never know to who you're talking
Never know to who you're talking.
Suddenly one night, there's a scream in the night
And you yell, "What the hell could that have been?"

And you see me kind of grinning while I'm scrubbing
And you say, "What she got to grin?"

--"Pirate Jenny" written by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill for The Threepenny Opera.

"Pirate Jenny" is a song we love, no matter who is singing it but our favorite versions are probably by Judy Collins (on In My Life) and Nina Simone (on various collections). The Threepenny Opera, which was recently staged again in New York, is considered a musical theater classic but apparently reporters at The New York Times aren't too well rounded in their education.

Which would explain Damien Cave's "On Patrol, Iraqis Prove Eager, Erratic and Green" -- an article that led to a long, long breakfast discussion among the core six (Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.) on the Thursday it graced the front page of The Times.

From the article:

In one squat concrete home, an American sergeant and about six Iraqis moved from room to room while the owner, an older woman in a full black ahaya, sat on a bed by the stove and watched. When a revolver was found, she was told that it would be confiscated because Iraqi law permittedonly one AK-47 per family.
Smiling the woman said she appreciated the American presence and hoped the raids would make the neighborhood safer. "I never leave the house because I'm too afraid," she said.

An older woman in an ahaya. Ahaya? Head to toe black cloak. So Damien Cave's not only a fool, he's redundant. Do most people get how offensive the above is. A woman, covered in a cloak from head to toe, the person in charge of the home when Iraqis and an American search through it? Between customs and fear, we can't imagine this was a happy experience. Though Cave swallows it hook line and sinker. (Cave, if the Green Zone villa gets a maid named Jenny, watch your back!)

200 years ago, Damien Cave could have reported:

In the slaves quarter, the plantation owner and six armed men, conducted a search while a slave looked on. Smiling, the slave said she appreciated the owner's concern and hoped the searches would make life better for all the ones picking cotton.

C.I. commented on the article Thursday but not in detail due to the shock that Cave could be so publicly stupid in print. We're shocked as well. We're shocked that Cave, in Iraq, has yet to grasp that statements to your face aren't always genuine, that a woman smiling at armed men (Iraqis and an American) in her home may be smiling out of fear. But the quote (which we're having a problem believing Cave translated himself -- no one else is credited for the article) makes it into print -- and you wonder why Americans are so misinformed about Iraq.

Again, Cave, watch your back if the Green Zone villa hires a Jenny.
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