What's That Sound? (Updated)
D’yall hear those distant thuds?
That’s the sound of an imploding narrative.
It is also my cue to begin the third cycle in the cognitive loop of ‘anger-ridicule-pity’ through which I’ve channeled my reaction to how the story in Iraq is being reported.
For how can one not pity those miserable journalists as they scramble to find new narratives to define the last 48 hours in Iraq?
Not only has Maliki not backed down, but newly emboldened with wide political backing he’s begun to smash through Sadr City itself and is threatening to banish the Sadrists to a political Siberia. Muqtada al-Sadr, the guy the media has us thinking had won, has prostrated himself at the feet of Grand Ayotallah Sistani, promising Maliki that he would indeed demobilize his militia if the wise old men of Shi’ism would have it so. Gone are the millenarian certainties of taking orders from the Mahdi, the messiah. Gone is all that bluster of al-Sadr’s virile, confident ‘Outspoken hawza’ contrasted with Sistani’s supposedly feeble and retro ‘Silent hawza’. And he sends out his plea for clemency from Iran. FROM IRAN?!! From a place of chosen exile with which he had often derided the Hakims for seeking sanctuary and shelter there after Saddam has nearly eradicated their lineage. The place too, towards which his father’s confidants still point their accusing fingers for the murder that had befallen the old man and that of Muqtada’s two older, more worthy brothers.
Sadr surrendering his fate to Sistani and submissively muttering, “Do as you please, Sir.” Who would have imagined?
It is almost as baffling as Maliki’s abrupt transformation from an incompetent administrator into a wartime commander-in-chief!
And yet, the Sadrists keep sending out confusing signals signifying the confusion within their ranks. It happens, when defeat devours one’s will. “We will not disarm”. “We need to calm things down”. “We will fight”. “We will flee”. “No fair!” “We will march!” “We will stay home.” “A Sadrist?! Who me?”
Ahhhhh, the validation of it all!
Yes, you miserable souls: keep writing in that passive tense, that “Fighting rages” dodge. Never mind that Maliki and the Iraqi Army are actively picking a fight with the outlaws, a fight that the government is winning, and that’s the reason why the bullets are whooshing by.
And tales get unspooled. And narratives implode.
UPDATE (April 8, 2008):
Well, it now seems that the rumor is official according to this press report (Arabic): Muqtada al-Sadr has cancelled his 'March of the Millions' anti-American demonstration set for tomorrow to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the liberation of Baghdad.
In retaliation for whimping out, Code Pink has formally revoked al-Sadr's membership and expelled him from its ranks. Furthermore, Barack Obama has withdrawn his offer of a cabinet post that he had offered to Muqtada. Going yet further, Nancy Pelosi has cast off her Mahdi Army bandanna. Dozens of western journalists were seen protesting the cancellation outside Sadr's HQ in Sadr City, angry over the time and effort they had lavished while pre-writing tomorrow's story and the waste of all those flashy headlines and headcounts that they won't get to use. Ha!