شعب أمريكا غبي
Whether it is calumny, as the title of Ahmad Matar's poem claims (only to be contradicted by the text), to call American's stupid seems a moot point; the world having decided that the its sole Superpower is characterised by this trait above all others.
And the American as voter is particularly afflicted with a lack of brain power, eating up such patent whoppers as in Steve Brodner's cartoon.
You have to wonder though, with a media driven by the bottom line parroting the same message, if it isn't what they want to hear. And if the leaders the rest of the world find so ridiculous might be elected because their policies, and even the annoying mannerism, are what appeals.
The nation of shopkeepers appreciates a Tom Brownian PM who quotes his school motto in his inaugural speech, and the Americans prefer a straight-talking cowboy. To each his own.
And as to foreign policy, those who celebrate the fall from grace of neo-cons as the awakening of the gullible and naive seem to ignore the fact that their detractors feel the need to compete.
With Iraq burning, and the rest of the region apparently gearing up for a similar inferno, we have more than our share of certified experts in the global phenomena of Yankee bashing, most of whom have a sub-speciality in attention-deficiency, short-term fixation and sheer stupidity studies.
From the perspective of a local groundling, watching the US of A's military and diplomatic [sic] machine wreak havoc across it's current stomping ground, America appears as a lobotomised blindfolded colossus on the rampage.
Seeing such a monster - and the destruction it leaves in it's wake - up close and personal gives an intensity to the anti-US rants, and enough emotion to inspire poetry on their stupidity- as in the Iraqi Ahmad Matar's poem above, and the Lebanese Khaled El-habir's below:
ابانا الذي في السما انت عراسي انما عندي كلام
في كم سؤال بها لعمر اجتمعوا براسي من القهر والانهزام
ما هيدا مبارح كان ولد كيف تبلع كل البلد... اول سؤال
مبارح اخونا كان فقير وهلق تيابو من حرير... تاني سؤال
ليش العرب بعد النفط صارت حضارتهن زفت... تالت سؤال
كيف العدالة بنعدم والحرية بتنحرم... رابع سؤال
كيف بيخلق واحد زعيم والتاني ما عندو ملّيم... خامس سؤال
كيف اليهودي مضطهد، ما هوّي سارقلي بلد... هوني السؤال
كيف العراقي بينقتل ما قالوا حرية وعدل... سابع سؤال
ليش الضمير بيحتضر عنا وبيضلو مستتر... تامن سؤال
كيف الامركاني حكم، هيدا الغبي بين الامم... تاسع سؤال
ليش الفتك فينا حلال، فكرلي بهذا السؤال... عاشر سؤال
هيدي وصايا يا ابي... ارشف وصفها بمكتبي كي لا تزال
ابانا الذي في السما انتا عراسي انما عندي كلام
ابانا الذي في السما انت الهي انما هذا حرام
اخيراً ليس آخراً ما يطلع حكيي نافراً... ولا تعتبرني كافراً
اطلع فيي يا ابي... ساعدني خطيّ يا ابي ...عليك السلام
خالد الهبر -
Not since their Southern neighbours gave vent to their furious anti-gringo rage amid uncivil proxy wars, a sting of coups, and a plethora of military dictators have Americans been reviled in verse so frequently.
Ahmad Matar and Khaled El-habir are not among the more passionate practitioners of this art form though.
افتراء (Calumny) is one of Matar's shortest, and in comparison with the rest of his poetry is positively mild...which is probably why it's also one of his worst, since his genius is for Swiftian humour. He reserves his venom for certain Arab rulers, and is perhaps even harsher with their people, who seem to have resigned themselves to endure oppression as their inevitable lot.
I must say his Lafitat is a bit extreme, and although I can understand the frustration that prompts it, blanket statements regarding ALL Arab rulers and the Arab people as a whole don't seem to leave the all important chink of possibility open.
Khaled El-habir's ابانا الذي في السما (Our Father which art in heaven) has a confused speaker questioning injustice, and specifically asking ten questions (for which no answers are provided, although something like Naji Al3ali's cartoon is implied) out of which only three (Palestine, Iraq and "how the stupid American rules the world") acknowledges the American elephant in the Arab living room.
The rest deal mostly with issues of reform and good governance, as talked up but not practised by various Western leaders.
For example:"how is it that he has swallowed the country, only yesterday he was a boy", which just conjures up that memorable Saad Hariri Jack Straw moment (to my mind anyway).
Neither Matar nor El-habir ignore America's role, but they realise that العيب فينا the main problem is not with America, but with us.
In the words of Abu Al-qasim Al-shabi, as taught to every schoolchild:
إذا الشعب يوماً اراد الحياة فلابد ان يستجيب القدر