Yemen, Yo' Man!
By R. D. Flavin

5-8-2015

[Note: The following column is a sequel or continuation of my Flavin's Corner column, #380 3-27-2015 “Retreat or Defeat?”]

     The conflicts of Sunni versus Shia denominations (or sects) of Islam have been ongoing since 680 CE. Since I've last written about Yemen, Pakistan has refused to send in ground troops, the Saudi-led coalition has come close to a nervous breakdown, the U.S. has stubbornly remained neutral, Iran has sent a destroyer (actually a small ship with four cannons), and the country is split in two. Yemen, yo' man, how did you allow this to happen? Though, honestly, how did the rest of the world permit this tragedy to take place?

     I know we're supposed to despise Iran and they call us “The Great Satan,” but they sent money and guns to the Muslim Bosniaks during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War BEFORE Bill Clinton and the rest of the world paid any attention to the slaughter. Likewise, Iran sent money and guns to the Kurds to defend themselves against the so-called Islamic State of Syria and Iraq BEFORE all the political rhetoric and cowardly refusal to put boots on the ground and settle matters once and for all. Now, other than that, those hard-liners and Revolutionary Guards answerable to the Ayatollah are encouraged to have unnatural sex with themselves before consuming feces and becoming deceased. Or, something like that... Okay, so last Friday the U.S. made a few airstrikes in Syria against ISIS (unfortunately killing some 52 civilians). Collateral damage, mine buttocks! We need to have better aim!

     Yeah, the so-called Saudi-led coalition recently continued their airstrikes against the Houthis (read: disgruntled Shia Yemeni rebels backed by Iran, yet despised by ISIS) and have now increased their numbers to the hundreds of the “Supporters of G*d” or the Houthis and have now displaced some 300,000 Yemenis. Not to be outdone, ISIS has just murdered hundreds of Iraqi Yazisis. If religious wars are a game, I sure would like to know the rules (if such exist). Although, with a golly-gee-whiz, Saudi Arabia is now considering a cease-fire to let food and medical supplies into Yemen... I wonder if they still have Wi-Fi?

     Casting psychological and behavioral reasoning aside for a moment, 'war' in some shape or form has been with us since the earliest of historical times, likely was preceded in prehistorical periods, and probably extends back to the first fire-using hominins ca. 1,500,000–1,000,000 BCE (Bentsen, Silje Evjenth. 2014. “Using Pyrotechnology: Fire-related Features and Activities with a Focus on the African Middle Stone Age.” Journal of Archaeological Research. 22, 2: 141-175). We may overlook the idiomatic hyperbole of the “World's Oldest Profession” and go full Darwinian and admit it really has been the survival of the fittest. Stones, spears, bows and arrows, swords, cannons, nukes, and now biological warfare. Still, we persevere, never forget, and try harder to win a lasting peace.

     I mean, it's not ALL doom and gloom, as occasionally a little good news squeezes itself through the gore and tears. After a year of unanswered terror, Nigerian forces have now rescued an estimated 234 women and girls from the Boko Haram (Arabic "Western education is forbidden") militants. Assorted folks and government agencies continue to concentrate on their links to ponder their switch of loyalties from to ISIS, while I personally regard them as opportunistic punks and gangsters. However, that's simply my skinny assessment. Rhetoric be damned – it's good that so many woman and girls are safe again, though there is still much more work (and war) ahead.

     We've all but turned our collective backs on Crimea and Eastern Ukraine for fear of annoying Bad Vlad Putin and forcing him to remove his KGB mask at midnight. For all his propaganda and braggadocio, he's just a power-hungry childish tyrant who is poised to raid the cookie jar (i.e., re-take lands lost when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, and maybe add a few innocent countries to his politically perverted collection). As the first president of a unified Yemen from 1990 to 2012, Ali Abdullah Saleh often visited Russia and retains close ties with Putin. Yet, as Saleh was also the behind-the-scenes leader of the 2014–15 Shia Houthi Yemeni coup d'état, it doesn't require the 'brains' of the Scarecrow to predict Vlad and Russia's imminent involvement in the Yemeni Sunni versus Shia 'Civil War' for some reason which will likely be easily passed from his rectum to the many innocent Yemenis who have remained in defiance of the war which rages around them.

     This week's column, “Yemen, Yo' Man!,” has (of course) several various reasons for being titled such. 'Yemen' and 'Man' are easy, but the usage of “Yo'” is meant to invite interpretation concerning usage. The Oxford English Dictionary doesn't provide an etymology, but simply records its first recorded usage ca. 1450 in a series of anonymous English plays published in Mankind and Wisdom, and used as “An exclamation of incitement, warning, etc.” As such, an inference of earlier usage, perhaps during the thirteenth century CE, is implied. “Yo'” was subsequently used in this context of exclamation until well into the 19th century and through the middle of the 20th century. During World War II, a military usage of “Yo'” as meaning “here” or “present” was introduced. Recently, African-American rappers re-interpreted the meaning to mean “you” or “yours” which gave rise to a growing number of “Yo' Mama” jokes. Some regard 'yo' as a universal sound made in all languages, akin to “baby-talk,” as it's easy to pronounce and may serve as both a grunt of agreement or a call for attention. I apologize we can't go proto-European or Nostratic, but the word may well be ...just a simple sound of recognition.


An illustration from 15th century "The Castle of Perseverance," a morality play, found in the Macro Text along with Mankind and Wisdom, and containing the first English usage of “Yo.”

     I'm uncomfortable (read: a slang expression for urinating 'off') with what's going on in Yemen and the response (or lack thereof) of neighbors, friends, NATO, and pretty much every democratic country who pretends to support peace and independence. Yet, my disappointment doesn't compare to the ongoing loss of innocent lives. May peace prevail!

Taking my coffee without sugar, 
Rick

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