Start Counting | News | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Start Counting 

Pin It
Favorite

During the early part of this summer, I spent a month traveling through Greece. You should try that sometime. Nothing like it. The trip had been planned amid growing concern of warfare in the Middle East but not so much concern that we would back out. With the initial bombing of Iraq, we cancelled. “Just what the terrorists want you to do,” we were reminded. Maybe so, but the thought of being within earshot of Iraq during wartime was enough for me to put the souvlaki on hold. Besides, virtually everyone else in the United States was expressing solidarity for the cause in Iraq by doing absolutely nothing about it. Anyone who expressed views opposed to the war was branded un-American. It was a wonderful ruse.


Just about the time I felt like it was time to rev up my Ann Coulter retort, the war was “over.” Just like that. Kaput. No war. Nothing to second-guess. On May 1, 2003, President Bush announced an end to major hostilities. Thirty days later, I was swimming in the Aegean Sea.


In Greece, there are swimming places just about anywhere within a few minutes of where you live. A great distance to the sea might be a one to two hour drive. So, we swam a lot. Iraq was somewhere else, and the only thing I was second guessing at that point was the price of fresh fish in the seaside taverns.


There’s a beautiful thing about Greece—one I discovered early on—that caused me to think of more than sardines in a very short order. It’s this: Even in the most seemingly remote areas, one can find a newspaper. Not just one newspaper—as is the case in most American cities (including this one—slap yourself if you really think Salt Lake really has two distinctly different newspapers)—but newspapers from Greece and around the world. The result is that most Greeks know as much about America as most Americans. They have our radio. They have our TV. They have our newspapers. They have the world’s newspapers—and the world has a decidedly different take on events in the Middle East than we do. One thing the Greeks are not is ignorant.


It was only a matter of time before some Greeks began baiting me with questions like, “What’s up with that cowboy president of yours?” At first I found myself uttering such nonsense as “Well, we’ll find the weapons, just watch” or “It’s not about the oil, it’s about democracy.” Yeah, right. Lecturing Greeks on democracy. Move over, Sean Hannity.


One day I got into a bit with a waiter, and I gave him the party line that “Saddam Hussein is evil. He killed his own people.” You know what he said? He said that just proves how stupid America is! He reminded me that just as quickly as one can get to the sea in Greece, one can also get to a war memorial. Greece is littered with them. Lots of Greeks have died in lots of wars; such is the fate of a country at the intersection of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.


The man continued and said, “That’s your problem. Saddam was killing his own people. So what? Now he’s killing yours.”


This morning I read that two more American soldiers were killed in Iraq. More of our soldiers have died since May 1 than before. Somewhere, a Greek waiter is reading a newspaper and wondering why.

Pin It
Favorite

More by John Saltas

  • Stay Proud

    Raising the Barr on divisive rhetoric.
    • May 30, 2018
  • True Liars

    People should not be allowed to have Greek-sounding names if they're not Greek.
    • Apr 4, 2018
  • Crying Foul

    I haven't paid attention to anything at all of late, being so preoccupied with all that is right and wrong with the world, my cholesterol and blood pressure, how the newspaper and magazine industry is faring, why it is I've gained weight yet people keep saying, "Wow, look how skinny you are."
    • Mar 21, 2018
  • More »

Latest in News

  • Road Dread

    As panhandlers adjust to new rules, a state lawmaker and cops say measures have made streets safer.
    • Jun 13, 2018
  • Uncounted

    Count My Vote's ballot initiative campaign came up just short, but that could still change.
    • Jun 6, 2018
  • Pride in the Past

    Tracing the Utah Pride Festival back to its origins.
    • May 30, 2018
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • High and Dry

    Developers, preservationists at odds over Granite High's future.
    • Apr 26, 2017
  • Whoa Is Me

    I mourned in 2000 when Best of was only 10 years old. Sixteen Bests of Utah later, I mourn again.
    • Nov 16, 2016

© 2018 Salt Lake City Weekly

Website powered by Foundation