What Happens When You Step On A Worm

Four Negroes in a lifeboat with a rocket launcher and a couple of machine guns are a "defining moment in foreign policy" for the Obama administration? I think Bill Bennett is one of the smarter, and usually more thoughtful conservative commentators, so I was more than a little surprised when I saw one of my fellow bloggers use the "defining moment in foreign policy" quote from a Bennett radio appearance in his deconstruction of the latest Republican talking points, talking points that tried to frame this latest hijacking incident and the subsequent rescue attempt by the U.S. government as something that is bigger than it was.

But the basic premise here, which is still "four Negroes from Somalia in a lifeboat with a rocket launcher and a couple of machine guns" are a "defining moment in foreign policy" for the Obama administration?", has still got me wide eyed ten minutes after reading it. I don't see why we weren't blowing these people out of the water from the rip. Why would I give millions of dollars to four Negroes from Somalia in a lifeboat with a rocket launcher and a couple of machine guns? Since when did pirates have the right to due process?

Somalia is broker than broke. Maybe they need to hire Sally Struthers (is she still alive?) to do an infomercial for them where she begs for money to feed a starving nation, the way she used to years ago for - hold on - starving African children. Oops. I forgot - its not like we weren't sending money, both from our public institutions and our private citizens, to help provide food, shelter and clothing for a struggling nation. Which African dictator we supported for what ulterior motive would take up a week long series, but setting that aside for a moment, we are still talking about what is essentially the same problem - a few thousand Negroes from Somalia in military transport vehicles with a few rocket launchers and a couple thousand machine guns who have been pirates on dry land for decades, holding their own people hostage for ransoms from industrialized nations like ours.

I haven't been to a barbershop since my "front forty" deserted me - I can trim my "back forty" myself in a matter of minutes without leaving home. But I can imagine, if I were in a barbershop today, that the tonsorial experts would have boiled this down exactly the way I have, telling bad jokes in poor taste about the "four Negroes in a lifeboat with a rocket launcher and a couple of machine guns" who have fooled themselves into thinking they can really make this pirate thing a career move.

Two little boys visited us on Saturday a few weeks ago, the children of S.'s second cousin. They reminded me of myself at their age - sheltered suburban black kids who walked around outdoors with a sense of trepidation and a standing order to stay clean from their mother. They had looked a little restless in the house, so I had ushered them outside. It was still damp from a rainstorm earlier that morning, with standing water in some low spots near the curb around the cul-de-sac.

Earthworms were everywhere.

That held their attention for a few minutes. Then I pulled out a golf ball and a putter, and that amused them a little longer as they putted around the turnaround, at least until they discovered how to hit the ball hard enough to get it airborne. The putter and the golf ball were quickly shelved after that revelation. By this time, my own inner child had surfaced, which meant that it was time to investigate how to get the water in the puddles at the edge of the street to move. Those few puddles were as mesmerizing to the three of us as the open sea is to sailors.

It didn't take long for the cuffs of their pants to start getting damp. Since I wasn't interested in hearing about it from their mother when one of them fell in, we suspended our engineering experiments immediately. The boys looked around at the street as they shook their shoes off and drew in their breaths.

"What's wrong?" I asked the oldest one, who was around six or seven.

"Worms! They're all around us." A dozen earthworms were vigorously inching their way across the blacktop towards the damp circle we'd made around us as we played in the water, their segmented bodies glistening, the smooth, band like clitellum swelling with each undulation of their almost see through bodies. The youngest child looked like he wanted his mother.

I started laughing.

"Come here, boys." The two of them crowded around me as I stepped in front of a fast moving worm. "Aren't you bigger than this worm?"

"Uh huh."

"Then what are you worried about? Just step on him."

The oldest boy looked at me as if he didn't believe his shoes would protect his feet from this ferocious predatory worm inching his way past us. I flicked the worm into the landscaping. "See how easy that was?" I scanned the pavement - sure enough a few of them had already been run over. "This," I said, pointing at their shredded carcasses, "is what happens when you step on them."

By the time we went back inside, the boys looked like they had learned something about themselves that they didn't know when they arrived, something that gave them a little more context about the world and their place in it.

We can blow four Negroes from Somalia in a lifeboat with a rocket launcher and a couple of machine guns out of the water all day long as easily as I can crush a worm with the bottom of my shoe. Any African dictator will tell you that in an environment of heightened violence and intense poverty, you have to kill quite a few folks to get the attention of the masses.

There is a point at which four Negroes from Somalia in a lifeboat with a rocket launcher with a couple of machine guns can go from being people to being nothing more than worms. But there is absolutely no point at which stepping on these worms can even remotely be a "defining moment of foreign policy" for a presidential administration.

These worms deserve to be nothing more than fish food.

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Anonymous said...

I don't believe there "Negroes" in Somolia. Are you trying to give us Americans a bad rep?

Lady Di said...

I sent you a humorous but hopefully helpful email about Katt & The New Yorker article. Thanks for the write-up!!

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