Monday, February 15, 2016

Sand Opera Lenten Journey Day 6: Turning Toward the Least: The Blues of Javal Davis (+Timothy Liu)

Sand Opera Lenten Journey Day 6

“Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
--from Matthew 25:31-46

It’s all too easy to demonize the Javal Davises, who were “just following orders” when asked to “soften up” the detainees who were purportedly enemies of America. Certainly, Davis could have refused to abuse the detainees; yet his own testimony suggests the duress that he and his cohort were under—facing constant mortar attack, and living in a haunted prison. War places us in a position where we see strangers are suspects, not proxies for Jesus. Even in civilian life, we find ways of seeing the stranger as a threat. Nowhere is this more clear on a political level than in the debates around whether we accept a place for refugees and undocumented workers in this country. But if we focus in a little closer, to the mundane occasions of our immediate life, are we turning toward or away from the “least”?

On “The Blues of Javal Davis” by Timothy Liu
So he blasted country music as a means of torture. As opposed to Death Metal. The irony in that. Country music as soundtrack (Garth Brooks, Shania Twain) when I google “Abu Ghraib” for images online. It’s a challenge. Spelling “Abu Ghraib” correctly. Imagine a gun being pointed at your head and your being commanded to spell “Abu Ghraib” correctly. Or else. Who among us would end up in one of those photos as a corpse, as a smiling torturer? Try spelling the following names correctly: Ali Shallal al-Qaisi. Manadel al-Jamadi. Ameen Saeed Al-Sheik. Saad Naif. Try pronouncing their names correctly. One of them said, “They confined us like sheep.” One of them said, “They stripped me naked. One of them told me he would rape me. He drew a picture of a woman to my back and made me stand in shameful position holding my buttocks.” One of them was designated Detainee #151362. Does it matter who got to ride Hashem Muhsen like a donkey after that naked human pyramid photo was shot? Coda: Javal Davis pled guilty on 2/5/05 to dereliction of duty, making false official statements, and battery. Sentenced to six months. Became an actor in two documentary films on the scandal after he got out.

Timothy Liu's most recent book of poems is Don't Go Back To Sleep 

No comments: