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the educated person

published: 2013-08-30

The 20-yr-old guy who works in my favourite coffeeshop looks and speaks like most 2nd generation Moroccan kids in the city. His shoulders are bent forward, his dark eyes are droopy and friendly. He is shy, at least to me, and our topic of conversation is usually the weather.
His name is George.
You’d think I’m an educated person.
Sometimes, I glance at a newspaper while waiting for the perfect latte that only George knows to make.
Today he asks, “anything interesting in the papers?”
I shrug my shoulders. Is there ever anything interesting in the papers? Things you don’t know already?
You’d think I am an educated person.
I have to say something, so I say, “oh you know, the ongoing Syria nightmare.”
“They are wrong,” he says. He sounds less hesitant than usual, yet his eyes do not flare up. They are still as soft as they always are.
“It can’t have been Assad. He comes from the area the chemical attack took place. why would he?”
I become impatient at the thought of having yet another uneducated conversation about global politics with some guy who is probably going to say it’s all the west’s doing anyway, and who do we think we are, and all that.
I tell myself to settle down. To stop and listen for a change. I take a sip of my coffee as opposed to walk out with it before I do.
“Assad isn’t as bad as everyone makes him out to be. The chemical attack has to have been by an islamic splinter group. They wants the world to think it was Assad. He protects the Christians, you know, he’s always been really good at that. My mother’s family have all fled now. They’re from that area, where the chemical attack took place.”
“Your mother’s Syrian,” I say. “Were you born there?”
“Yes,” he says.
“And you’re a Christian.”
“So is my father.”
“Your mother must be worried then, for her family.”
“They’re all gone now.”
“Where to?”
I can’t help but think we used to be like Sweden. A lot has changed in Holland.
“I see,” I say.
George has taken the newspaper and has folded it, is now twisting it, unaware that he is doing so.
I say, “I don’t think we should do anything.”
“No, we shouldn’t,” he says.
I pauze for a moment.
“What’s the solution?” I ask.
“Assad should stay. Syria needs a strong leader. Look at the state of Iraq without Sadam. Sadam was good for the Christians too.”
“But how will this violence come to an end?”
“Europe and the US should stop giving the rebels weapons,” he says.
Before I leave, I ask whether he’s been to Syria a lot? I offer that it’s supposed to be a beautiful country.
“Many times,” he says. “But I don’t like it there.”
“Too difficult?”
You’d think I am an educated person.
He shrugs and says, “there’s just nothing to do for young people.”

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