2006
08.08

With the news in the Middle East these days being so very much grimmer than usual, news announcers are getting busy wrapping their dexterous tongues around unfamiliar words again, like Hezbollah and Hamas. Of course Bush still can’t pronounce either one with anything approaching reliability, but that’s par for the course. At least all this bombin’ and killin’ — some of his strengths — have piqued his interest a little, and we’ve seen just a little less of the ol’ thousand-yard stare from everyone’s favorite Village Idiot.

Of his repertoire, I’d have to say I prefer the thousand-yard stare to his other two facial expressions: 1) Just Joshin’, wherein he leans across the podium with an air of just between us folks and delivers some soft-boiled inanity with a lopsided grin that makes you feel all gooey inside, or 2) Blue Steel. Really, we’ve seen way too much of Blue Steel as it is, and it was never one of his stronger looks to begin with.

But none of this explains why I acquire a certain lopsided grin whenever the name Hamas is mentioned — I mean, it’s a brutal terrorist organization with a decades-long record of serial murder! What’s the joke?

I’ll tell you, ’cause we’re friends. Allow me to lean intimately across the podium for a moment…

There was this gal I knew in college — you probably knew her too — the one who had become a bit too politicized by that Politics of the Patriarchy class freshman year. She’s the white gal straight from the suburbs who suddenly discovered feisty feminism, bullheaded bisexuality, a fondness for leather and spiked dog collars, and her faint thread of a Latina heritage, all in the same week. Yeah, she’s the one you remember shaving her head three weeks into the semester after staying up all night sobbing over her bootleg Indigo Girls tapes.

Noelle just had a way of doing things that made you cringe. You realized that she was the one out there making us all look ridiculous, as she organized candlelight vigils on the steps of the student center, formed new special-interest groups for her particular minority and then fought the administration for recognition and office space with fiery letters to the editor that made us all roll our eyes and wonder if she couldn’t have just asked nicely first. Really, our administration was pretty used to being asked for “safe space” for one group or another, and they usually tossed them a janitor closet or something if they could.

Noelle was a hack. She made us all look bad, because she reeked of inauthenticity, and she was loud. She pushed herself to the front of the rally to make speeches, she delivered diatribes at the dinner table for no apparent reason, since we were pretty much all of the same political stripe. She staged bad guerrilla theatre during exams week, stitched the black power symbol on the back of her black leather motorcycle jacket. She suddenly acquired, and then dropped, her own self-styled ‘Latina’ accent when discussing such issues, sticking her tongue far out through her teeth to produce the desired effect on the second syllable.

Do you have any idea how many times my eyes have reflexively rolled, just remembering Noelle and writing this down? For lo, my eye sockets ache.

One of her crusades was to somehow organize the (actually) Latina community in the low-income sections of the nearby grimy city in a struggle against domestic abuse. She wanted to build a huge coalition across the Five College area and launch the whole shebang with a Take Back the Night March, ending, of course, with a candlelight vigil on the Student Center steps. Ye gods, how we did love our candlelight vigils.

She held long discourses at the dinner table with her friends about what to call this organization that would save all the poor Latina women of the western world, and decided on what she took to be Spanish for “never again!”

Only she spelled it wrong.

So up went posters, flyers, table tents, and banners throughout the Five College region, with her favorite emblem in black and white and the slogan underneath:

“Hamas!”

She had put her phone number on all the flyers as the contact number, and oh my stars did her phone begin to ring.

I still remember how white (how ironically embarrassing!) her face was when she came down to breakfast and tried organizing people to take down all the posters. The few sympathizers who agreed to help reported later that they needn’t have bothered, that most of the posters had been torn down by irate Five College students who thought Hamas was trying to organize a cell in their area.

So every time I hear the name Hamas on NPR, I secretly smile, raise my fist in the air, whisper “Jamas! Never again,” and think of Noelle. She was a good egg, really. Poor thing.

  1. So for the record I detest Bush so when I say this don’t think I’m some bible thumping republican who defends him because I’m convinced that until the fertile redneck clan of Bush’s stop reproducing this country will just dig itself deeper in the shitter……

    He actually can pronounce Hezbollah. I’m pretty confident he could never spell it correctly though.

    On the whole war front, I pretty much just try to avoid it on the news channels with the hopes that when I do hear something it will be along the lines of Israel blew up the entire country of Lebanon today and are considering sending all the idiots from America to live there.

  2. Although I tend to avoid the topic of politics, I will add my general thoughts here. Our current government is a sesspool of shit, ignorance, and mental filth. To tell you the truth, I’d rather live under the radical violent leaders of Hamas than under some redneck who thinks its okay to randomly throw other governments without cause.