The views, opinions, and observations expressed in this journal are my own and in no way reflect the views, opinions, or policy of the Peace Corps, Peace Corps Morocco, nor any other governmental or non-governmental organization.

Nor is anything written here necessarily drawn from my own views, opinions, and observations. Please consider all postings and pictures complete fabrications with absolutely no bearing on reality. For legal purposes, please additionally regard the author as utterly imaginary.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Violence and Propaganda

I think it would be safe to say Krista and I are not going to come back to this camp next year.  Nor do I have any plan to work with the Ministry of National Co-operation again.  Since Ramadan has begun, the other counselors don't have a great deal of patience.  They're starving themselves all day while the vast majority of kids continue to go about their day normally, i.e., drinking water and eating three meals.  Apparently a good outlet for frustration is beating kids.  Yesterday, at dinner, the kids weren't being particularly quiet or orderly, which is typical, and one kid threw a grape at another.  A counselor pulled him out of his seat, smacked him across the head a couple times, threw him into the middle of the room onto the ground and stomped on him and punched him and lifted him up and kicked him and punched him back into his seat.  The kid is lucky that he didn't get a concussion, although I guess he'll enjoy long-lasting emotional damage.

Naturally we were upset, Krista in particular.  The boss said it was normal and fine because it's just the first time, and a female counselor defended the action as called for by their religion.  However, in a meeting later, the boss showed us that he was filing a report to be sent to somebody in Rabat.  This person is supposed to be responsible for the safety and protecting the rights of the children.  Supposedly the guy who beat up the kid won't be coming back, although I wouldn't count on it.  And he works with kids year round.

So, we considered leaving.  But decided to stick it out for the next three days, and defend the kids when we can.


I had thought the propaganda extended no further than yelling about the Sahara and the team names (co-operation, ethical education, freedom, co-operation again, forgiveness, participation).  The national anthem, 'long live the king', 'our morocco our sahara', and so on, is constant.  However, this morning was about Israel/Palestine. Awesome. No, kidding, not awesome.

We've heard a song about Palestine and 'our tears going out to Hamas' about eight times so far, including a coordinated dance from the girls.  They performed the dance four times in a row and then the boys came in to act out the subject.  One kid sat and read with two little ones playing at his feet.  Two kids representing Palestinians ran in with two others wearing Israel flags and carrying fake guns chased them into the room.  The Israeli kids started firing wildly while the Palestinians threw rocks and one of the kids was hit.  Then there was a fake funeral for the kid.  I left as soon as the kids wearing Israel flags came in, but Krista told me about the rest.  I experienced a visceral reaction to the stupidity, brainwashing, and fucked-upness of the whole thing, from which I'm currently recovering.

I don't think I will ever understand this Palestine obsession.  Like all people endowed with basic reasoning skills, I know all of Israel's policies are not 'good'.  But it is inexcusable to brain wash kids from an early age, constructing a building of hatred.  Telling them, you don't need context, you don't need information, you don't need history or a diversity of viewpoints on the conflict, you just need to listen to the music and copy the movements.  Disgusting.  Maybe the play wouldn't have been as 'entertaining' if it had included some Palestinians shooting rockets at the Israels, or strapping themselves with explosives, or picking up the kids and using them as human shields. Absolutely awful. 

The Moroccans should spend their energy focusing on reducing the violence they themselves are directing at their children rather than filling them up with blind nationalism and hatred for a religion thousands of miles away.

This post is probably even more poorly written than the other ones, but I'm pissed about this.  And there is nothing I can do about it.

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The views, opinions, and observations expressed in this journal are my own and in no way reflect the views, opinions, or policy of the Peace Corps, Peace Corps Morocco, governmental or non-governmental organizations.

Nor is anything written here necessarily my own views, opinions, or observations. Please consider all pictures and texts here to be complete fabrications with absolutely no bearing on reality, this one or any other. For legal purposes, please additionally consider the author to be utterly imaginary.