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Words for Rachel Corrie, with thanks to Billy Bragg

Two weeks ago, March 16, marked the third anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie, a young American woman who lost her life beneath an Israeli bulldozer trying to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian home. I never met her, never volunteered overseas, hell, never ever really volunteered for anything inconvenient, so the fact that her story touches me has nothing to do with any similarities between us, perceived or real. Perhaps it is simply the starkness of our differences that makes her story resonate.

Whatever the reason, I remember reading about her death three years ago, only a few months after the birth of my second beautiful daughter and in retrospect, the tears I shed are surely tied to both events.

I remember poring over article after article as the reports of her death came in, and then in the days following, reading the emails she wrote home and to friends telling them, now us, why she was doing what she was doing. And then I remember seeing the photographs taken of her death beneath a Catepillar tractor driven by an Israeli soldier. Was it the boldness of her sacrifice that got me, the power of its symbolism, or simply morbid curiousity of such a public death? All three, I suppose, in their own way.

Was her death heroic, stupid or just a death? She certainly gave her life freely for others, but being heroic, at least to me, implies giving up life fully aware that you are doing so, and I'm not as sure about this. Did she really, honestly, even as she was climbing on top of the debris pile in front of the bulldozer, think that her life was in danger? Or, being only 23 and young enough to maybe not have internalized the reality of death, was she still immortal? Did she see enough in her few short years to know how short they were indeed? Is the concept of heroism so hackneyed and brutalized by misuse and politics that it has lost any real meaning, or indeed, did it ever really have one? Can a single word ever encapsulate something so muddy and real and pure as a person's death? Should it?

Were her last thoughts ones of confusion? Indignation? Anger? Acceptance?

Rachel Corrie has not been forgotten, not by me and not by others with a whole lot more talent.

The Ballad of Rachel Corrie
(To the tune of "The Battle of New Orleans")

In two-thou-and-three Rachel took a little trip,
With a bunch of other lefties to the funky Gaza Strip.
She dressed like a Arab chick, hung out in Rafah town,
But the dumb shit bit the dust when a dozer ran her down.

She hollered real loud but the dozer kept a'comin,
She figured it would stop like it done a while ago.
She plunked her ass down when her friends began to runnin',
Dumb Rachel she just sat there, never dreamed she oughta go.


She ran her mouth off till her bullhorn melted down,
Then she burned the Stars'n'Stripes for the children of the town.
She filled their heads with foolishness and hatred of the Jews,
And when they blew Israelis up, applauded at the news.

She hollered real loud but the dozer kept a'comin,
She figured it would stop like it done a while ago.
She plunked her ass down when her friends began to runnin',
Dumb Rachel she just sat there, never dreamed she oughta go.


Old Rachel figured that they'd never hurt a blonde,
A blue-eyed shiksa who grew up across the pond.
She plumb forgot she was standing out of sight,
Of the dozer operator who was sittin' at a height.

She hollered real loud but the dozer kept a'comin.
She figured it would stop like it done a while ago.
She plunked her ass down when her friends began to runnin',
Dumb Rachel she just sat there, never dreamed she oughta go.


Yeah, it cracked Rachel's skull and it broke Rachel's backbone,
A D-9 Cat ain't the kind of thing that jokes.
It squashed her so flat that she didn't need a coffin,
Just folded her in half and they mailed her to her folks.

She hollered real loud but the dozer kept a'comin,
She figured it would stop like it done a while ago.
She plunked her ass down when her friends began to runnin',
Dumb Rachel she just sat there, never dreamed she oughta go.
Dumb Rachel she just sat there, never dreamed she oughta go.
Dumb Rachel she just sat there, never dreamed she oughta go.

That's the most tasteless piece of shit I've read in a while. I hope you're proud.

Oh c'mon, Kev - you don't actually think that idiot wrote that himself? He probably found it somewhere - the height of his creative powers was in coming up with that pseudonym to hide behind like the coward that he is.

Oh i know he didn't write it. Just the act of "commenting" anonymously with a piece of shit like that is irritating. Of course, I could delete it, but I think I'll go back to it now and then when I think that the right wing has something positive to say for itself.

motherfucker

Rachel Corrie chose death by bulldozer while protecting Palestinian terrorists who were smuggling weapons to kill Jewish children. Pancake Corrie got what she deserved.

Oh yeah, all Palestinians are terrorists - how silly of me to forget. Line every one of them up against the wall. There is not one of them that deserves protection or hope or a possibility for a future. Not one of them.

Why don't we just nuke the place into glass and start over?

My friend Beakerkin just said, "I am looking all over Vermont for Catepilar hats. I want to see the play and root for the bulldozer. "

"you don't actually think that idiot wrote that himself?"

Tee... thanks for the implied compliment!

Seeing as I actually did compose the modest verse, I'm flattered to learn you find it something that could not have been written by an idiot. I'll take any positive review, no matter how tepid.

Actually, the version posted here was a work in progress; consider yourselves a preview audience. I reworked the chorus and changed a few other bits before the actual primetime debut, posted in a rather better-known venue a few days later.

I'll overlook the "coward" business; it's the usual pro forma insult in situations like this. Hardly appropriate, anyway, coming from a fellow who only identifies himself as "Dan- Age 43, Location: Canada."

Or was that guy Joe in the beer commercial lying? Maybe you guys really all do know each other! If so, would you say hello to Gordon Lightfoot for me, and let him know somebody did a "Wreck of the Flat Rachel Corrie" parody that put mine to shame?

Thanks.

Actually, coward is quite appropriate, but not for the reason Dan mentioned. I have no problem at all with anyone posting under whatever name they want, MerkinDream, which is why I have left the permissions open here to do so. And as odious as your little verse is, I left it on not because I liked it, but because I think it's pathetic. I'm glad your friends over at Little Green Footballs enjoyed it. It's the kind of immature tripe that goes well there.

No, coward is appropriate because anyone that would proudly mock someone who gave her life willingly for others can have no respect for real courage. Even if you disagree with her rationale, or think that she was foolish and naive, she was courageous in a way that maybe when you grow up one day you can be, too. From the way you fawned over the couple of people that responded to your post over on LGF doesn't give me much hope, but there you are.

Coward. Immature. Idiotic. I could add a few, but what's the point, really?

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