Friday, March 02, 2012

Jeremiah Small and the continued violence and continued political crisis

dragon tonsils

Yesterday, American Jeremiah Small (above from his Flickr account) was shot dead in the KRG: "Reuters notes Jeremiah Small was shot dead in Sulaimaniya Province by a student named Beyar al-Talabani who then shot himself. AFP adds that the student was 18-years-old. Sam Dagher and Ali A. Nabhan (Wall St. Journal) note that the student was an 11th grader at Classical School of the Medes ('a Christian school run by U.S. evangicals'). Jeremiah Small was 33-years-old and had taught with history and English lit at the school for seven years. There are a number of details in dispute and we're not going to note those. If you're looking for a strong article, Dagher and Nabhan are clear about what happened, what's said to have happened and what's in dispute." On Flickr, he posted a photo of some of the females in his 11th grade class.

my 11thgirls

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Classmates described Talabani, who was 18 and a grandson of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's half brother, as well behaved. Officials say there doesn't appear to have a been a religious or political motive for the shooting. But a relative of the young man's, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said he'd argued with Small over what she described as the teacher's open Christianity."

jeremiah small

On his Facebook account, Jeremiah Small noted his interests included rappelling and snowboarding, his favorite music included U2 and Ericka Corban, favorite films included Penny Marshall's Awakenings and Disney's The Fox and the Hound and favorite books included C.S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces and George MacDonald's At the Back of the North Wind. Iraqi Dana Jaza Ali Katib has left the following message on Small's Facebook wall:

I am so sorry for that act. Such a teacher as his students are describing, should not earn such destiny. I did not know him before, however, he is a human, a teacher, and also a guest in our country who wanted to expand to us knowledge. It is bitter. God bless his friends and

This month, Jeremiah Small shared a quote that meant something to him:

"We are built as human beings to figure out our place in the world, to construct a narrative in the context of a relationship that gives meaning to our lives." I hate to quote a psychiatrist, but someone is right, they're right. I would revise to add that we are called not to narrative construction (in which must constantly find our stories frustrated) but that we are called to become part of a narrative greater than ourselves in the context of a relationship that gives meaning to our lives. It is a beautiful thing to find oneself spoken into meaning.

The quote is from Columbia University's Dr. Andrew J. Gerber, quoted in Benedict Carey's "The Therapist May See You Anytime, Anywhere" (New York Times). And here are two photos of Jeremiah Small with his students that he shared on Facebook.

jeremiah small and students

In other news of violence, Mohammed Ameer and Peter Graff (Reuters) report that Iraqi governmental ministries have released the February death toll figures asserting that 151 people died in February. Violence also took place today in Nasiriyah. While Thursday's demonstration went well Alsumaria TV reports when the same supporters of religious authority Mahmoud al-Hassani Sarkhi demonstrated in public today, they were run off by riot police using water hoses.

Alsumaria TV reports cleric and political leader Moqtada al-Sadr declared today that threats to Iraq are "the occupier and the Ba'ath Party." The occupier would be the US government. The Ba'ath Party is a Pan-Arab political party that Saddam Hussein rode to prominence.

The political crisis continues. Since December 21st, President Jalal Talabani and Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi have been calling for a national conference to resolve the crisis. Al Mada reports that another prep meeting took place today. Al Mada also notes that head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq Ammar al-Hakim has declared that the absence of women in the prep meetings is noticeable and regrettable. Yesterday, prior to today's prep meeting, Al Sabaah was quoting a member of the prepatory commission who stated that the had agreed to a basic agenda for the conference.

Yesterday snapshot noted Wednesday's Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing where the VA appeared as witnesses. Community member Troy e-mailed to ask if empty medical positions were noted in the hearing. Ranking Member Richard Burr specifically brought that issue up.

Ranking Member Richard Burr: Since the Chair just asked about mental health, let me just ask if my information is correct. In December, VA polled their facilities and they found that there were 15,000 open mental health positions. Is that accurate? Dr. Petzel?

Secretary Eric Shinseki: Let me turn to Dr. Petzel.

Dr. Robert Petzel: Uh, could you repeat that number, Senator Burr.
Ranking Member Richard Burr: In December of 2011, the VA polled their facilites and found there were 15,000 mental health slots that were unfilled meaning --

Dr. Robert Petzel: Our of 20,500, that's true.

If Troy asked, there are probably others interested in that issue so we'll include it in today's snapshot and I also hope to include Senator Daniel Akaka's remarks about rural veterans (if so we may also bring in Senator Jon Tester's remarks).

The e-mail address for this site is