March 26, 2004


Judy Davis read what the ABC described as a stirring anti-war poem during last week's Ba'ath Party rally in Sydney. Examined more closely, the piece Davis chose (written by Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani) could easily be taken as an anti-Saddam call to arms:

If I knew I'd come to no harm,
And could see the Sultan,
This is what i would say:
Your wild dogs have torn my clothes
Your spies hound me
Their eyes hound me
Their noses hound me
Their feet hound me
They hound me like Fate
Interrogate my wife
And take down the name of my friends.
When I came close to your walls
and talked about my pains,
Your soldiers beat me with their boots,
Forced me to eat my shoes.
You lost two wars,
Half of our people are without tongues,
What's the use of a people without tongues?
Half of our people
Are trapped like ants and rats
Between walls.'
If I knew I'd come to no harm
I'd tell him:
'You lost two wars
You lost touch with children.'

The Sultan is no longer in power, the people no longer live without tongues, wives arenít interrogated, and friendsí names arenít taken down by spies. Well read, Judy! Listen to her damn the tyrant here.

And, if you can stand it, you may also listen to John Pilger's strange nuclear theories. One highlight: his sneering mention of "the ABC's soft Media Watch program".

UPDATE. A bunch of pro-American counter-demonstrators appeared at the Baíath Fest in Melbourne -- and several of them appeared to be of Middle Eastern appearance. Wonder if anybody interviewed them? Could be a story there.

Naturally, the friends of democracy didnít approve, and removed the offending pro-liberation banner. (Check this sign carried by one of the pro-libs: "Make Love After War".)

UPDATE II. The crushing of dissent continues! Actually, itís more like the punching of dissent. Another report on the same incident here.

Posted by Tim Blair at March 26, 2004 11:13 PM

I cried
I hurled

Posted by: max power at March 26, 2004 at 11:38 PM

I oppose Islamofascism,but whenever I see Ms
Davis,fuck me Burkas seem a great idea.

Posted by: fred at March 26, 2004 at 11:51 PM

I'd be curious to know what year this was written -- is it referring to Assad or Nasser, to 1948 and 1967 or 1967 and 1973?

Whatever it is, the obtuseness and cultural narcissism with which these Aussies have decided it's applicable to them is astonishing. I'm not an artiste like Judy Davis but at least I have the slightest grasp of what that poem is trying to convey.

Posted by: Otter at March 27, 2004 at 12:43 AM

Well, it says right here, on a site dedicated to Qabbani, that it was written after the 1967 war with Israel, and clearly blames Arab leaders and Arab failures---particularly the absence of any sort of democracy---for the defeat.

It also says that, prior to '67, Qabbani mostly wrote romantic, even erotic, poetry. He was apparently what passes in the Arab world for a champion of women's rights, and I suspect that the part about "half our people has no tongue", and "half our people/ are trapped like ants and rats/between walls" refers to the isolation of women.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at March 27, 2004 at 01:01 AM

Who gives a rat's arse what some raghead wrote, either in 1967 or last week, or whether some ugly slag who hates her own country decides to read it out loud?

Lock and load.

Posted by: Pedro the Ignorant at March 27, 2004 at 01:08 AM

Thanks, Angie. I'm still curious if the "Sultan" is intended to be interpreted as Nasser, Assad or the Arab leaders in general. (That site is also striking for its Mahathir-ist mentality of "We need freedom and democracy -- only then can we get our revenge on the Jews!!!)

In any case, it's certainly crystal clear what the poem is _not_ about. Maybe Australia could give us an arts subsidy to explain that?

Posted by: Otter at March 27, 2004 at 02:09 AM

Someone needs to make a poster with the words "No more wars for oil" written on it and a map of Iraq with red arrows pointing towards Kuwait.

Posted by: drscroogemcduck at March 27, 2004 at 02:33 AM

"Make Love After War"

- that's how the baby boomer generation got started.

Posted by: wv at March 27, 2004 at 03:35 AM

Here, I translated this poem into American instead of sniveling, craven Persian or whatever it is:

So I saw the Sultan making a campaign stop
And I walked up and said,
Yo, Sultan,
you fuckin' bum,
you loser piece of shit,
bite me,
because next election you are out of here.
You lost touch with voters
And don't give me any of that crap about it being "for the children."

Posted by: Mike G at March 27, 2004 at 05:55 AM

I hope you mention the crushing of pro-war consent in your column. It'll help expose the "anti-war" types for what they are.

Posted by: Andjam at March 27, 2004 at 02:29 PM

Dear Sultans Bush and Howard.
We won 2 wars
Half our people are still stupid
Send help

Posted by: Dead Ed at March 27, 2004 at 02:46 PM

I read in the Weekend Australian, Syria's ringing up Australia now and asking how to be a friend of the US.


Posted by: Quentin George at March 27, 2004 at 03:49 PM