In my father’s final years his macular degeneration progressed to the point that he was no longer able to read. When that happened, we signed up with a remarkable books-on-tape program offered by the socialist Library of Congress; a special tape player was shipped to him along with a thick socialist catalogue of book titles with detailed descriptions from which to choose. This catalogue of new books came every two months. For a few years, he and I went over each issue together, choosing his reading for the next two months. Eventually I did it alone. “You know what I like” he said. I placed his orders on the socialist organization’s website and the tapes began arriving immediately. Each title came in a rigid plastic case, which we faithfully dropped back in the socialist mailbox for return as soon as it was were finished.
Besides books – history, religion, fiction, true crime – there were news magazine in his mail very week and The New York Times weekly summary of the news. (His secret pleasure was People magazine and until this moment no one but me ever knew that.)
His favorite newspaper, the twice monthly National Catholic Reporter, was not avialble on tape. So I began to read it to him.
That how it came to be that I – the most secular of people – became such a fan of NCR that I made sure the subscription was redirected to me after his death. It offers fresh and thoughtful perspective on global issue. So, like I said, I’m a fan.
The April 29 issue has a powerful editorial on our forgotten war in Iraq. It’s not online, so no easy cut and paste or linkie. Here’s an edited summary with the gist of it:
. . . the Iraq war is as real today for millions of displaced Iraqis as it was the evening we launched cruise missiles over Bagdad . . . in this country of only 30 million people up to two million of them – the best and brightest – have fled to Jordan and Syria. Most will never return. Another two million have been uprooted internally . . .these mostly impoverished millions scramble for basic necessities – jobs, apartments, food, health care. It’s as if the residents of New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania had to leave and go to Canada.
The effects of war linger far beyond the battlefields of conflict. It took 20 years to settle the two million Vietnamese ‘boat people’. That war had complex roots, but the roots of the Iraq war are traceable right to the Bush White House. The United States then, carries unique responsibility for the displaced Iraqis. We cannot shirk our moral responsibility.
This is as good a time as any to mention that we’re in the ninth year of the war in Iraq and today is the 213th day of the tenth year of the War in Afghanistan. We’ve spent $1.2 trillion and lost 6000 troops. Casualty numbers are enormous as well.