Saturday, April 14, 2007

Why I Am Not That Concerned

I know, several bombings in Casablanca. The BBC article is here: I am saddened by the desperation of poverty, painfully exacerbated by its proximity to unreachable affluence. Knowing such hopeless bloodletting only widens this gulf is a bitter truism. Suicidal bombers' desired outcome is not clear to me. Popular support--that is, of the people--has always been an irresistible force. Its lack will cost our fumbling president his career (though in his cynicism, I doubt he cares), overcoming the stained glass walls with which his entourage protect him. People don't stay unhappy for long. Once they find some scrap of sustaining prosperity, they naturally cling to it. Conservatism is like that.

The monarchy has been basically successful so far. Though wealth is poorly distributed, and education has a some distance in front of it, The People are in favor of The King. His status as al-Mumineen, the Leader of the Faithful, places him in charge of the religious community as well as the secular. This is in important contrast to, say, Iran.

Political repression still lingers, and its reporting is transient at best. However, most people (I think) are joyously conservative, but not reactionary. There is no popular push for Wahhabi asceticism. So martyrs (do you still call them martyrs if no one cares about the individuals? I favor "losers".) do not really inspire an Iraqi-style bloodbath of retribution and fatally sanguine heroism. No one admires these poor dupes.

Perhaps September 11th inspired some similarly ignorant cretins, but I think the common reaction is like the Good Kids Meeting Drugs in some After School-Special: Ew, we don't want to be like that. But more strongly dismissive and condemning. This will not spread beyond Casablanca, certainly not to Rabat. (Poor Casaouis blowing up rich ones: not to be disgusting, but I never liked the place much anyway.) The country will not be fractured by sectarian fences. There aren't any, to speak of. It is too much a NFA Kingdom for that.

Perhaps it is more likely that willing candidates will either all blow themselves up (I know there's a hamd'ullah for something bad, the equivalent of God forbid. But it's rarely used: one student told me, "God never wishes something bad to happen." I am still thinking about this.) or else disappear, scuttled into an unmarked makhzen van, then to wake up somewhere uncomfortably near Algeria. Or not.

I am not that concerned because this will not sustain. Of the few serious Islamic sorts that I met, they seemed more likely to stash themselves away somewhere like al-Qaraouine in Fes, calmly murmuring the Qu'ran, quietly sneered at by their peers for not fleecing the tourists. Let us not neglect the influence of Berber culture: the soul of Moroccan conservatism.

If these enraged Casaouis are admirers of al Qaeda, I wonder if they despair of finding an embracing audience. I see a radical Christian, ragged clothes and greasy hair, thumping his Bible on a corner in a jolly 1950s white picket fence town: Repent, you sinners, for the day of the Lord is at hand! Right... Who will stay to be scorned by the madman, and suffer their faith belittled for its tolerance? Or who would rather marry an Anglophone, even a slightly odd one like me? (I'm talking to you, sweetheart.)

It is far too late to try to bend the Kingdom into a separatist culture. Maybe a century or two ago, but not now. Everyone who wants a stable job and a bilingual education, raise your hands.

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