Wednesday, May 24, 2006

So Much Depends...

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Click here for a quick intro of Brittan]

I'm currently on a legal scholar's exchange program in Argentina. Recently we Yalies were taken to observe several judicial hearings.

I was struck by the court's refusal to accept an oath of office, effectively refusing to seat an elected representative who admits torturing and is accused of further crimes against humanity. This is against an international agreement, signed by Argentina (thus having the same weight as a constitutional provision) which should disqualify individuals like Sr. Luis Patti from holding public office. The final holdings should be interesting.

Yesterday Patti had a support rally that was televised live. He said "Human rights are an issue of the Left." One of my roommates jumped up like it was a goal in a futbol match, and the other sucked on her licorice drops with wide pupilled eyes. During the legislative hearing, opposing politicians were also yelling, but in sync with resounding cheers from crowds in the balconies. (If only the US had a heckling gallery in Congress!) We were supposed to be there, but the authorities had to limit the number of onlookers.

I hadn't expected the Dirty War to be such an open issue in judicial forums, but it's really everywhere. Trying to fix the problems resulting from this period seems to really infuse the jurists we've met so far with a palpable sense of purpose. It's really inspiring and makes meetings that I had expected to be somewhat dry and perfunctory into fascinating conversations. The signs of the scabs are all over the streets too -- in the graffiti and the art marring the walls and the cobblestones.

It's difficult for me to imagine that something like that occurred in this place. In other countries, it's been quite easy. Here, the pervasive beauty and lazy sunshine, along with the lovely people, can lure my mind into such a romantic reverie. But today, while standing on a balcony to watch the traffic, I did happen to notice the complete lack of green Ford Falcons (car predominantly used in the disappearances) and remembered that good genocide research ultimately comes down to the details.

William Carlos Williams was sitting by a dying patient and he happened to look outside the window. You probably have heard of the resulting poem, The Red Wheelbarrow":

"so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens."

This poem came to my mind at the moment I thought about the green Falcons. It was a strange juxtaposition...and I pondered how confronting morality on either a large or small scale can bring clarity -- figuratively or literally bringing out the colors of minutia.

2 Comments:

Blogger Sean Strasburg said...

so much
disappears

into a
green falcon

glazed
with blood

picking up
the pigeons.

---
good to hear all is well and interesting in Silverland. i'm getting more and more confused about left and right in south america (or just "america"), so i rely on you and justin to tell me where bolivia and argentina etc. stand at any given moment.

keep up the posts!
s

1:35 AM  
Blogger Gante said...

That was an incredible post.

2:41 AM  

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