Monday, December 18, 2006

An Open Letter to "President" Bush


Dear Mr. Bush,
First off, I hope you don't mind if you if I address you as "Mr." rather than "President." If you've been reading my blog, I think you can figure out that I don't have a whole lot of respect for you. And besides, your flunky Katherine Harris and the conservative turds on the Supreme Court were responsible for your 2000 "victory." I really don't think of you as President. I view it more like a little girl in her mommy's clothes having a pretend tea party.

But lets leave that aside for now. I want to talk to you about a couple of people.

The first one is Marcell Collins. He was an eighteen year old student in my 6th period Physical Science class. He will not be in my sixth period class today. He was murdered on Friday night. He was playing basketball in the park down the street from the school I teach at, and someone opened fire on him and the other guys he was playing with. He was shot in the head and died instantly. Three other guys were wounded, and it doesn't look good for them.

Marcell had only been here a few weeks, but he'd made an impression on the teachers here. He was quiet, respectful and got his work done. He was a nice kid. He was one of the few kids here who was actually taking advantage of this school for what it's here for-- to help high school drop-outs come back, get their diploma and turn their lives around.

If you'd been reading my blog earlier this year, Mr. Bush, you'd know that this is the second person I've known who was murdered this year. My friend Mark Evans was murdered on June 4 of this year.

In an amazing coincidence, this news story is making the rounds. Violent crime is up 3.7%. This has, obviously, personally affected me this year.

Now, in a not-completely unrelated thing, another of my closest friends, Army Reserve Major Garrett Johnson did come back this summer alive, thank god, from a year tour of duty in Iraq. One of his sergeants, who was a police officer from Massachussetts, did not. He was killed when Iraqi insurgents blew off an IED, trapping his convoy, which they sprayed with assault weapons. Garrett is crushed by this; he felt like his responsibility was to bring his guys home alive. He's pretty certain that he'll get sent back next year. He'll have the same goal.

By the way, hard as he looked, he didn't find any WMD's. Sorry.

Marcell was a poor African-American kid who lived near the school, so I figure you wouldn't have had much chance to meet him. I doubt you bother sitting down with someone unless they can write your party a check for at least a million dollars. Mark was an artsy web-designer, so you were probably never going to meet him either. I'm curious, Mr. Bush-- have you ever known someone who was murdered? I figure that your demographic-- obscenely rich oil millionaires and right-wing whackos and the like, probably don't get killed that often, though they sometimes get wounded if they're hunting with your vice-president.

Now, when Mark, who was my friend for nearly 25 years, was killed, I had to deal with months of numbing grief that I'm just recovering from. I only knew Marcell the couple of weeks he was in the class, but I'm upset, and mostly I'm angry.

When people like me opposed this war, we got shouted down and called unpatriotic. Now that we're bogged down in this war with no end in sight, maybe you wish you'd listened to us.

We've spent about a quarter of a trillion dollars on this war. Is Iraq safer? It appears not. You once claimed Al Queda was in Iraq. Whatever a scumbag Saddam Hussein was, he hated Al Queda and ruthlessly suppressed them. They're all over Iraq now, killing our troops and innocent Iraqis-- does that mean you were right, ahead of time?

Are the streets of Chicago safer? Apparently not. I've known two people in the last year who were killed there. I read that the city of Newark is about to set a record for murders. After years of going down, the rates of murder and other violent crime is spiking up there and all over the country.

How many cops and teachers and job programs and drug rehab programs could a quarter trillion dollars have paid for? I'm gonna go out on a limb and say "a lot."

You can quote me on that one.

Now I don't know if I can for sure blame the war for their deaths, but you can blame it, in a way, for Malachi Ritscher's. I met him years ago when we worked together in a local Amnesty International group here in Chicago, around 1990. Pretty sad-- here was Malachi, quietly plugging away for years for human rights all over the world, including Iraq. And finally, he despaired of making a difference, and poured gasoline all over himself and set himself on fire. And now people are listening.

What were you doing in 1990? Besides a bunch of cocaine, that is?

I know you don't read a lot, but maybe one of your handlers caught my letter to the Chicago Reader about it a couple of weeks ago.

Mark, Malachi and Marcell were all gentle souls, people whom I knew, who all died violent deaths this year. It's getting a little upsetting. If something happens to my friend Garrett when he goes back to Iraq next year, I'm going to be even more upset. What is my point? My point, I guess, is really a question: when do you realize that you fucked up really badly? And when do you start fixing it?

Marcell's funeral is Saturday, by the way. Post to my blog, and I'll give you the information, Mr. Bush in case you want to show up.

20 comments:

kim said...

Brian,

You should send this to him at the White House.

Bats in the Belfry said...

I am still reeling from it myself. Such a good kid. Such a loss

Flannery Alden said...

Jesus.

Tenacious S said...

You know, I have sent a couple of letters to the White House this year alone. I can't say they helped, but sometimes you can't stay quiet. What tragedies. Thank you for remembering all three of them in such a respectful and honorable way.

Tenacious S

Bubs said...

Well done. I wish I had the attention span, and was articulate and intelligent enough to have written that.

Anonymous said...

I have no words except. God rest your friends souls. I am so sorry this happen. It is very sad. God bless you for speaking up. We should all speakk up. Please keep yourself safe and your family.

Johnny Yen said...

Kim- yeah, but that would just be one more thing for Dick Cheney to have to read to him

Bats- It actually seems to have made an impression on some kids who needed the message.

Flannery- my sentiments, exactly

Ten-S- Thanks-- It's like the old Phil Ochs song about Medgar Evers, "Too Many Martyrs":

"Too many martyrs and too many dead/
Too many lies too many empty words were said/
Too many times for too many angry men/
Oh let it never be again"

Bubs- coming from someone who's written many an articulate, intelligent post, it's high praise

Anon- I am thankful every day for the safety of my friends and family

vikkitikkitavi said...

Beautiful post, JY. Thinking about you, baby.

Anonymous said...

hxjI don't usually comment on blogs, but I used to teach at the school right by the park where Marcell was killed. I received a call today from one of the teachers who said that it in fact was my former student, Marcell Curry, that was killed (even though the papers and such have said his last name was Collins). I was hoping that you might be able to clarify a few details about Marcell for me. I was wondering if it is the same person. "My Marcell" (as I have always referred to him) graduated from Lewis Elementary in 2004. I guess I am hoping that you might be able to tell me what you knew about Marcell Collins since no one else seems to know or even care about him. Any information that you have would be really helpful.

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