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From outside one will always triumphantly impress theories upon the world and then fall straight into the ditch one has dug, but only from inside will one keep oneself and the world quiet and true. /FK (Contact: TBONotebooks at fastmail.fm. The Blue Octavo Notebooks welcomes mail, although we cannot guarantee a response. Your email may be posted in part on The Blue Octavo Notebooks unless otherwise requested.) Please enjoy the notebook entries, and thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

In The Land of Scary Guys. Joe Carr, one of the International Solidarity Movement members who witnessed Rachel Corrie’s death, has composed a song about her, entitled “A Dove’s Last Song.” If you like, you can listen to it here.

Needless to say, Carr’s lyrical rendition of Corrie’s final song/dance/showdown before a Caterpillar “diesel death machine” differs somewhat from his earlier eyewitness testimony. A poetic license, of sorts, I suppose. Since I’ve already wasted time transcribing the song’s lyrics I don’t feel especially inclined to comment on it any further, although there’s hardly much else to say about it. And, anyway, this sort of quasi-lyrical, aestheticized rhetoric tends to speak for itself.

The suggestion that Corrie, supposedly inspired in no small part by the terrorist attacks of 9/11, was waging some sort of “personal war” “to stop terror” is a bit rich. Indeed, less than a year-and-a-half later she was attending a demonstration, organized in part by the ISM, that featured such renowned terrorist groups as Hamas and the PFLP. Good times, I’m sure.

Here are the lyrics, as accurately as I could transcribe them. There are a few ellipses [ … ] where I couldn’t quite make out what he was saying.

A Dove’s Last Song

So let me tell you the story of a gory glory
One grand last stand in the land of holy
Rachel gave her life defending native rights
And we will never see her legacy die

When the planes hit the towers on 9-1-1
She knew that her personal war had begun
She sought to stop terror where it may be
And her eyes turned towards Washington, D.C.
And to the army of Israel, the I.D.F.
Exhaling death with each breath ‘til there’s nothing left

They kill, capture, and cripple women, children, and men
Whose only crime is that they’re Palestinian

See, Rachel learned about Rafah, the forgotten town,
With I.S.M, the only internationals around

The world’s fourth strongest power hides our eyes from it all
While they create a prison state with guard towers and walls
It’s the most impoverished place in all of Palestine
And it’s the site where the most folks fight and die

It’s one of the poorest and most deadly cities in the world
No tourist trap for ordinary college girls
She thought her Western white privilege could do some good
As could other caring people in her neighborhood

So she sought to set up a relationship
An Oly sister-city project in the Gaza Strip

So at the tip of January she said her goodbyes
And hit the skies for the land of scary guys and cries
And when her plane hit the ground
The word got around
That Rajah, the blonde American was in town

She found a promise [ … ] for the people and they cherished her so
A white flower in the desert budding peace and hope
Her lighthearted spirit was a breath of fresh air
In this war zone full of poverty and despair

The children were her favorite and she tried to play a game of football on the pavement almost everyday
When she wasn’t off protecting workers fixing wells or networking and connecting NGOs

I could tell her initiative and organizing skills were ample
She was the best kind of leader, she led by example
I’ll never forget her dedication and commitment
To solidarity and the spirit of resistance

It was this firm stance that opened the door to her final dance opposing hatred and war
Her final dance that rocked me to my core

On the 16th of March she walked to the field
To lessen demolition with her body as shield
Yeah, we took on Goliath but instead of stone we had fluorescent orange jackets and a megaphone

Our known passports projected aid and our pale white skin
We thought we protected from racist violence
But Rachel was the first to prove that we were wrong
When she knelt in her pew to sing her final song
When she raised her voice and sang her final song
Protecting the home of Dr. Samir
The family of whom she’d grown to hold dear

Well, she couldn’t let the dozer crush their hopes and dreams
So she pleaded with the soldier, “Go home, please, just disobey your commander and just leave the people be
Or if you remain you’re gonna have to deal with me

I plead my words you’ll heed
And I won’t concede ‘til you recede
I won’t leave ‘til this family is freed
And I won’t concede ‘
‘Til you recede.”

And she didn’t cede but neither did he
As the dozer came closer she climbed the mound
And met the soldier at his shoulders for a final showdown

And too terrified to join her I raised my lens
And now these few famous photos document the event

She centered into his eyes but he continued to drive
And pushed her down into the ground until she was [ … ]
And now the favorite of our band holy crushed by holy land
Holy crushed by holy land

And I can still see her hand sticking out of the sand
I still reach for her hand extending out of the sa—aa—and

The man had seen her there pleading but he didn’t see a human being
A life to be valued, of true compassion and feelings
She was concealing terrorists in his twisted mind-frame
But somehow he messed he was doing the same

He’s gotta do what he’s told, turn his hard heart into cold
He’s been required to kill since 18-years-old
He chose a victim of oppression from religion and war
No excuse for his aggression but a reason for it

His duty was to drive a diesel death machine
With the treads of terror and the blade of pain
Calibrated by hatred and fueled by fear
With the blend of blood and money that oils the gears
Made here, American supplied and designed and dyed green
Modified for the Israeli military machine

The Caterpillar Corporation is the nation’s biggest fan
They make a killing off the filling of the destruction of man

It was a Caterpillar killer that killed her
They made the Caterpillar kill her
He made the Caterpillar kill her that killed her
It was a Caterpillar that killed her

As her song was censored and her dance denied
We waved and raved, “She’s underneath!” we cried
But he put it in reverse and cursed her again
Dragging the blade over serrated skin
And torn inside and horrified we rushed to her side
And tried to keep her alive ‘til more help could arrive

And the EMTs were an all-too experienced crew
They rushed her to the hospital but what the hell could they do?
Her spine was snapped and her chest was smashed
Her skull was cracked and her lungs had collapsed
[…] It surpassed what the understaffed doctors could fix

They said, “Allaq al-Hamra” at 20 past six
They wheeled her out, a white sheet shading her head
“It’s over,” my comrade Mohammed said

I couldn’t believe it, and I cried to his chest
I still can’t conceive her soul is really at rest
No, I still can’t conceive her soul is really at rest

But we had services and ceremonies, demonstrations
We did hundreds of interviews and presentations

The world was aware of the vicious attack
Just as Bush and Blair began bombing Iraq
But no distraction, the world rose up and took action
And at anti-war demos we honored her memory
Inspired by her fire now forever burning in me

Yeah, Rachel’s dedication made the nations fight war
And more have come to Rafah than ever before
And ISM recruits have gone through the roof
As so many pro-freedom and pro-peace groups

And we see troupes of doves in the yearly Oly street procession
And Rachel Corrie Memorial Center for Children

Rachel’s vision of the sister city has been realized
Olympia and Rafah will forever be tied
All her Oly family will keep it alive
And we will never see her legacy die
No matter how hard they try

They may have crushed her body and crushed her bones
But they’ll never crush her spirit that lives on and on
On and on, from dawn to dawn
A crescendo never ending freedom song

And now every time I walk down a block town in the street
Every time I write a media or theater piece
Every time I build a puppet or deliver a speech
And every time my mind’s on Palestine and all the Shahid

Every time a freedom fighter dies for a cause
Or we ride with [ … ] who don’t abide by their laws
Every time we push our limits and make cultural ties
Every time we lose our privilege to a system denied
Every time we take a stand for another man’s strife
We honor Rachel Corrie and continue her life
Yeah, we will never see her legacy die

Her life is documented in verses and prose
We read the details in her emails to her folks and her bro’s
And from her journals we can learn all of her thoughts and ideas
We can study testimony of her family and peers

Like, we hear she was a healer who worked in mental health
An Oly girl and Greener who loved to teach herself
She was an artist, writer, painter, a creator of beauty
We know she was a leader who heeded her duty

Yeah, a maker of peace who didn’t cease ‘til the end
She was a daughter, a sister, a mother, and a friend
She was a martyr, a true shahida

She had died for freedom
She had come to Rafah to stop the tanks
That were built, bought, and brought by her brothers the Yanks
And though they’re stronger than ever they won’t be forever

Extend your hands to Rachel’s and we’ll stand here together

Yeah, we’ll never see her legacy die
No, no, no, no, no.

‘Cause true solidarity is such a rarity
And she shared it with me with such clarity

Graffiti writing in Rafah reads her glory

Rachel Corrie, an American citizen with Palestinian blood
An American citizen with Palestinian blood
An American citizen with Palestinian blood
An American citizen with Palestinian blood

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