Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Shopping while Iraq burns

Bob Herbert writes that "Americans are shopping while Iraq burns." Of course, Americans are shopping while Africa disintegrates, too. Herbert's point, though, is that while the war in Iraq may be an American possession, Americans appeared unconcerned about it as they rushed to the Thursday midnight openings of many shopping malls.

Iraq is not America's only ugly responsibility--there is also New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where trash is in the street, dead bodies are found each morning, the remains of buildings lay on the ground, and residents cook meals in toaster ovens in trailers where they can hardly turn around.

But hey--things at Wal-Mart are hopping. A few days ago, I was in a grocery store line where a woman kept looking at her watch. "I have to get to Wal-Mart before I go home," she said, with panic in her voice. "Don't you hate how crowded it gets there?" she asked me. I told her I had boycotted Wal-Mart for many years, and she looked at me as if I had said a spaceship had landed on my garage.

"You know," I said, "paying women way less than they pay men for doing the same job. Locking their employees in at night so that they can't escape a fire. Refusing to pay disability claims. Making their employees do mandatory unpaid overtime."

Her eyes got large, and she said "That's terrible."

"There are other places to shop," I said, and she smiled, looked at her watch, and said if she hurried, she could make it to Wal-Mart before she had to be home.

Because America--all she wants to do is dance. And shop.


No empire lasts forever.

Where will your WalMartina be when her world crumbles around her?

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