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A Developing Country

A Developing Country

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A Developing Country

Länge:
205 Seiten
2 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
May 2, 2013
ISBN:
9781458206343
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

It was the chaotic political life of contemporary America coming alive again in fiction but more meaningfully, and with a moral center.
Emeritus University Professor Michael Zimmerman


An African utopia? Not really.

What then is the attraction? asked a boy in the back.

Living day and night without fear of violence, an honor system that has to be experienced. I love the friendliness, the energy, the optimism. It reminds me of small town America in the sixties.

I assume most of the people are black, said a boy on the aisle. How are they different from us?

Joshua was helping Ruth put on her coat when she asked him,How are they different?

Joshua hesitated to criticize his wifes admirers, but then said, Americas young people are more cynical than the people there. Youre too smart to be fooled, probably because you never believed in anything in the first place. You say our justice system is racist. Our economy perpetuates privilege. Our institutions are tools of the power elite. Our founders were hypocrites. Would you agree they are different, if every person of color in Bessedelya will tell you that they love their country?

Maybe they dont have a memory of the injustices and humiliations we suffered, said a voice in the back. When I look in the mirror, I see a man with the wrong color. I know I wont be treated the same as you.

They definitely see themselves differently than you do, Joshua said. They love their blackness. Although everyone there is taught Africas terrible history,they dont look back in anger. They are not still shackled to the past.
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
May 2, 2013
ISBN:
9781458206343
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

B David Peck was born in 1937, graduated Columbia in 1959 and raised his family in Virginia. He was appointed by five different Virginia governors to serve on boards of various state agencies and Institutions including an historic black college.


Buchvorschau

A Developing Country - B David Peck

Chapter  68

CHAPTER

1

T he packed classroom at the historic black college came to hear Ruth Mitchell discuss her contemporary civilization course. As she finished explaining the assignments and described the great books they would be reading, a white man stood, raised his hand and then sat down.

Ruth pointed to him and said, My husband Joshua is reminding me that we must leave soon. She looked at a clock on the wall. We have time for a few questions.

A girl on the front row began, Mrs. Mitchell when the school year ends, you famously disappear and nobody can contact you. Rumor has it that you discovered a utopia. If we swear to keep it a secret and not to call you, will you tell us about your beautiful hiding place?

The beloved teacher joined in the laughter. Joshua is an advisor to a developing country in southeast Africa, next to Mozambique, called Bessedelya. It is not as beautiful as our Virginia, and unless you enjoy traffic jams, high taxes and earthquakes, I don’t think you would call Bessedelya a utopia.

What then is the attraction? asked a boy in the back.

Living day and night without fear of violence. An honor system that has to be experienced. Imagine doors left unlocked or going back to the park days after you misplaced something and finding it where you left it. I love the friendliness, the optimism. It reminds me of small town America in the sixties.

I assume most of the people are black, said a boy on the aisle. How are they different from us?

Joshua was helping Ruth put on her coat when she asked him, How are they different?

Joshua hesitated to criticize his wife’s admirers, but then said,America’s young people are more cynical than the people there. You’re too smart to be fooled, probably because you never believed in anything in the first place. You say our justice system is racist. Our economy perpetuates privilege. Our institutions are tools of the power elite. Our founders were hypocrites. Joshua looked at the audience and then asked,If almost every person of color you’d meet there would tell you that he loves his country, would you agree that Bessedelyans are different?

Maybe they don’t have a memory of the injustices and humiliations we suffered, said a voice in the back. When I look in the mirror, I see a man with the wrong color. I know I won’t be treated the same as you.

They definitely see themselves differently than you do, Joshua said. They love their blackness. Although everyone is taught Africa’s terrible history, they don’t look back in anger. They are not still shackled to the past.

As Ruth and Joshua walked to the door someone asked, So what is this developing country developing?

Much the same as we’re doing here, Ruth said. Maybe a few more visionaries.

CHAPTER

2

N ot far from the college, a distinguished African American, Jakob Warsaw, worked his way through the morning crowd at Washington’s Union station. At the exit near the taxi stand, he put down his two brief cases, found a seat and took a pad from his jacket. As he began to write, a white man knocked a suitcase against his leg, stared at him and kept running.

Jake looked at a black girl seated nearby. She was wearing a cap facing backwards with the letters MCV. When he saw the Medical College of Virginia sticker on the suitcase, he placed it next to her diaper bag. She was turned away from him, had finished breast feeding and was putting her baby in a sling. It looked to Jake as though she were struggling and he asked, Can I help you?

Hinda Raisal laughed, He was hungry. I don’t think you have the right equipment but thanks.

Taking a Christmas break? Jake asked.

On my way home, to Africa, Hinda explained. I just finished my residency.

Congratulations, Jake said.

Hinda stood, rocked her baby and sat down.

From Africa, Jake mused, and you chose a school in Richmond. May I ask why?

My country will pay for graduate study anywhere. They want me to head a new health and education ministry, Hinda explained. I have more interest in American history than in medicine.

I don’t follow you, Jake said.

I wanted to know how a few men could have created this amazing country, Hinda said. Where better than Virginia to learn about the Founders? My dream is to live to see a United States of Africa.

You’ll have to live a long time, said Jake.

You look like a lawyer, she said. I bet you could help us solve some start-up problems.

I can’t help myself stop smoking, Jake said.

You’re being modest, Hinda said. I bet you are on your way to persuade a jury that your client did not mean to defraud those people, and he’s really sorry they were evicted from their homes.

You’re close, said Jake. I’m on my way to a hearing where I’ll try to explain the unintended consequences of an earmark that benefits one company. The few Senators that show up will be more concerned with the CSPAN cameras than with my brilliant comments.

Are you kidding me? asked Hinda. You’re going to testify before the most powerful men in Washington?

That would be the lobbyists, Jake corrected.

He looked at his watch, took a business card from his wallet and while writing said, Joshua Mitchell, our managing partner, has a client who also wants to see a United States of Africa. Gadhafi is a madman, but he gives big money to dreamers like you. Contact JM. He may be able to help you meet the Colonel.

Jake handed her the business card and picked up his brief cases. Good luck doctor, he said and hurried to the exit.

Hinda put the card in her jacket, gathered her luggage and walked outside to the line waiting for the taxis. She did not notice the card drop from her pocket when she told the driver to take her to the airport.

CHAPTER

3

Fifteen Years Later

T raffic at the industrial waterfront had come to a stop. When Angel the limousine driver left to see what had happened, his passenger was watching a container crane lifting a box onto a ship.

Jake was reminded of the summer he worked as a rigger loading trucks and railroad cars. It was strenuous and often dangerous work, but he loved the sights and sounds of the huge equipment and the spirit of the operators and laborers.

During the past year, the continuing and deserved criticism of the world of finance had made the days much less enjoyable. Seeing longshoremen and teamsters at work reminded Jake of happier times.

Angel knocked the snow from his shoes when he returned and pointed to the car in front of them. I just looked in that van, a bunch of black guys. One kid was putting on his hat. Angel lifted his hands to his head. He had on handcuffs. Those dudes are going to jail.

Jake leaned forward to see what the driver was talking about. Picturing the handcuffed boy with the hat, his fingers touched the fedora on the seat. For a moment the fifty-two-year-old man was afraid of the criminals in the van. He reached a button that locked all the doors, sat back and opened his newspaper.

You know what I think, Mr. Warner? Angel asked. At school they hear their families were brought here as slaves and treated like animals. On the street they smoke some weed and are locked up with a bunch of angry, sick bastards. It’s no wonder some good kids go to the bad.

What’s the solution? Jake asked.

Suppose they grew up in a city with all black people. You know, black police, black judges, black businesses, black leaders. I bet they wouldn’t be on their way to prison.

You and Marcus Garvey, Jake said.

Say what?

Africa has many cities like that.

So what do you think, Mr. Warner?

My name is Warsaw.

The traffic started moving. Suddenly, towering over the old warehouses, the flight deck of an aircraft carrier appeared.

The GPS voice said they had reached their destination as Angel pulled up to the gate of a scrap metal operation. A guard checked their identification, called someone on his cell phone and then pointed to a small grey building in front of two ships tied to a finger pier.

Angel drove past several mountains of metal to a parking area as three people approached the car. One was a short, fat man wearing a blue hardhat and smoking a cigarette. He was followed by a well-dressed man and a voluptuous woman wearing yellow visitor hardhats.

As Jake got out of the car, the man with the yellow hat extended his hand. Mr. Warsaw, I’m attorney Allan Stone. It’s an honor to meet you.

The pleasure is mine, Mr. Stone.

The lawyer chuckled nervously. That’s very gracious sir, but you’re the Washington legend. I simply represent the detainees. Mr. Johnson here owns the shipyard. Miss Maybey is from the Justice Department. We were told to contact you if there were any important problems.

Johnson shook Jake’s hand, handed him a yellow hardhat and motioned for everyone to follow him to the carrier. Halfway down the pier, stairs on a scaffold rose twenty feet in the air alongside the great ship. At the top of the stairs they crossed a gangplank into a cavernous area under the flight deck and then followed Johnson through a passage into a large room.

Thirty men were standing or sitting by several long tables. They wore red uniforms marked with the white letters POW. Some wore leg irons. They were guarded by five military policemen.

Stone began to make his case. Taking men captured in Iraq to Guantánamo prison was not a good idea. The president inherited the problem and we know he asked you to fix it, but incarceration on a ship would never have satisfied the courts or public opinion.

Jake knew that JM, urged by the previous president to handle this controversial problem, had then asked Jake to find a place for the prisoners until they could be brought to trial.

He thought about the young associate in their firm who had come up with the ship prison idea. She persuaded the others that this plan would temporarily solve the government’s legal problem of detainment. He could not imagine trying to explain her reasoning to Mr. Stone.

Is that why it was urgent for me to be here today? Jake asked.

I would have called you sooner, Stone said, but I was just able to arrange my schedule to meet with my clients. It’s not at all clear that these people, who’ve never been charged and never had a day in court, are prisoners of war. And if not, that POW designation is misleading and demeaning. Several of the men complained about seasickness, and the clothes are not warm enough. The Geneva Conventions are very clear.

Jake turned to Mr. Johnson. Are you having a problem with this arrangement?

Johnson averted his eyes clearly uncomfortable with this discussion. My employees hate having dangerous men in the plant, men who might have killed American soldiers, and I’m not too happy keeping them here myself.

But you are paid a lot of money for your discomfort, aren’t you Mr. Johnson? Jake asked.

Johnson colored slightly. I’m not saying it’s not, he said, but more important to me, I’m doing something for the country. The governor called me himself to say I was performing a great service.

You’re a patriot and having our enemies here bothers you, is that it? asked Jake.

Not just that. You see those cranes loading that steel and those railroad cars being moved by that switching engine? When the MPs bring these men out for a break, they don’t listen to the guards. They’ll stop on the tracks and watch, or drop down and pray. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t care if they get hit by falling scrap or run over by the trucks. I’m afraid I’ll get sued by Mr. Stone or get fined for a safety violation if they get hurt. I was told I’m getting paid to provide a place until the government figures out what to do with these people.

Jake concluded that Johnson was satisfied with the money but afraid of lawsuits. Stone was happy with the potential of years of legal work and wanted some idea of how the government intended to defend its action. The Justice Department lady had not expressed an opinion, but she was a beautiful sight shivering in the cold.

Jake had a plane to catch. He turned to Ms. Maybey and said, "Send them back

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