There is Something Not Right [Archives:2008/1133/Opinion]

February 28 2008

By: Hassan Al-Haifi
“No, there is nothing wrong with us; it is just that there is something that seems not right!” Said the younger Mohammed, who had just joined the conversation after having finished watching his not so favorite television show, “Going with the Wind”, a program that is supposed to teach young adults about democratic processes.

The father caught the odd statement right away: “Don't you think you are contradicting yourself there, Son No. 2”.

“Well Dad, we live in such a world of paradoxes that to be on the safe side of the fence, I said what I said, while at the same time hoping to make a point.” The Younger Mohammed confused the Elder One even more so:

“Come on son! What are you getting at?” He said with a puzzled look on his face

Son No. 2 quickly said: “Look at the nice programming we are getting on TV. It tries to show that we are moving forward in our politics, economy and even health. But the fact is everything is proceeding on reverse gear: For example, our educational needs are hardly recognized by the national budget. In fact the budget seems to be geared to actually keep us backward and to fill up the pockets of all those freaks who have plundered the state treasury mercilessly without regard to the needs of the citizenry and of course without the fear of a reprimand, let alone criminal punishment. Did you know that most of the state institutions have never undergone a genuine real independent audit of any kind?”

“Well, I am glad to see you are learning something from the program you were watching” said the Elder Mohammed to his outspoken son, adding: “But I would be careful of what I say in public, because it could fall on the wrong ears.”

“But dad that is exactly what I mean! What is the right ear and what is the wrong ear? I am now confused that I do not even know my left ear from my right ear! The Government media says we have democracy and all that jive, but you come here and tell me to shut my mouth in the street! Well then, what are they telling us?

The mother came in with her maternal instincts released from “Hold”: “They are telling you keep your mouth shut if you want your mom to sleep well at night!”

“Mom, I didn't know you had trouble sleeping at night” the Younger Mohammed felt compassion for his mother.

“Son, I am not exactly rested when I have to answer prank calls threatening that my son's tongue is going to be cut off, if he continues to stretch it out of his mouth every time he sees litter in the street”, the mother wasted no time in showing the real political environ the country is enjoying to her son.

“Mom, you know litter in the streets is a very minor problem, when compared to the litter that has filled the halls of Government buildings. Besides, those calls you are getting are exactly what keeps me on edge. I would love to get a hold of that prankster and show him what a coward he really is. Imagine making threats to a fine lady like my mom. What have people come to? A decade ago or so, such calls would be considered anathema to all the upbringing we have been subjected to.” Here Little Mohammed was showing his views on morals and values.

His mother was continuing her lecture on 1984 in Yemen”: Son, these nincompoops have no values or morals. They are mainly concerned with you getting the point that you have crossed the Maginot Line on free expression here in Yemen: 'Yes, say all you want to say, but keep your mouth out of our vicinity, or else you will have no more mouth! Remember also that we are watching you and listening to you every where'. That is what free speech is all about here in Yemen.”

That really got Son Number Tow boiling: “One would hope that with the poor rate of success of the Government in quelling stronger expressions of contempt of Government in both the South and the North, the Government would realize that it just can't continue on the wrong track indefinitely. Something has got to give here. The people certainly have a major stake in Government and if these cutthroats don't understand that, then the voices of contempt will get louder and eventually overwhelm the tools of oppression that the regime depends on and you will then never hear anyone threaten you again, my dear sweet Mom!”

Hassan Al-Haifi has been a Yemeni political economist and journalist for more than 20 years.