E., The following memo is in response to your query dated 11 May, 2008 regarding assignment number 151-50-A-006543-003. The information provided forthwith will be adequate guidance for you to complete the assignment without further delay. Failure to do so within the specified timeframe may result in censure and/or dismissal. This ultimatum, as it were, is meant in nothing if not the spirit of warm camaraderie, nonetheless it is advisable for you to remind mindful of the difficulty of our operation even without such unwarranted delays as yours and to keep your eye on the ball. Your work is well valued indeed, but we do run a tight ship and further delays will not be tolerated either by myself or the editorial staff. Have a pleasant day.
Assignment: 151-50-A-006453 (12/mn.)
Format: NF (News Feature)
Length: Max. 800 wd.
Themes/Topics: Media placement aimed at counteracting the influence of fundamentalist Islam in Somalia, particularly urban and coastal areas (Mogadishu and surrounding environs). All topics must relate directly to Somalia and the impact, on the Somali people, of the ongoing war against Islamic Terrorism. Kenya is occasionally permissible (for example: the terrorist attacks in Nairobi and Mombassa may be adequate frames to address larger concerns of Islamic Terrorism as they relate to Somalia and the Somali people, though this is, to a large degree, old news. The manufacture of “new news,” so to speak, is possible, even encouraged, but only providing it falls within the above stated parameters. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is one such group that it is conceivable to link to such actions as would be appropriate given the obvious constraints including, but not limited to, those of feasible manufacture). Please focus on the positive rather than negative aspects of the global fight against fundamentalist Islamic Terrorism. Make clear to the citizenry of Somalia that if fundamentalist Islamic Terrorism is not dealt with severely Somalia could potentially become the next Afghanistan. Do not mention that Somalia has in fact already become the next Afghanistan and has been so for quite some time. Highlight the efforts by interested parties to counteract the warring factions and their insidious attempt to keep Somalia mired in conflict for their own geopolitical benefit. Do not mention The United States of America as one of the parties within this context. Instead focus on the humanitarian plight of the innocent victims of the civil war these [nameless] parties hope to keep the country mired within.
Restrictions: Do not directly mention and/or denigrate any existing warlord/chieftain who may or may not remain and/or become properly motivated towards the geopolitical interests of The United States of America. This provision excludes Shayk Hasan Dahir Aways, Hussein Mohamed Aideed, Mohammad Hersi Si’iid Hersi, and Said Barre. We must keep our options open after all. Osama bin Ladin is, naturally, fair game [if appropriate within the topic that must be, and remain, Somalia related (or occasionally Kenya, which seems more fitting for mentioning Osama bin Ladin anyway—for example, the terrorist attacks in Nairobi and Mombassa as they relate to Somalia and the global crusade against Islamic Fundamentalist Terrorism, with a reminder of our previously stated lack of enthusiamsm to what could be termed, “old news”)]. The emergence in Kenya of the Mungiki criminal network could also be appropriate if, and only if, tenuous connection can be made between the Mungiki practice of cutting off people’s heads and nailing them to walls and the similar practices of the Al Qaeda-related Abu Sayyaf Group in the Philippines, Jemaah Islamiyah in Indonesia, and/or Al Qaeda in Iraq, all other groups that coincidentally, or not, cut off peoples heads and nail them to buildings. This providing, of course, that the cutting and nailing can somehow be related back to Somalia and the positive impacts of the global fight against fundamentalist Islamic Terrorism. Do not use the phrase War on Terror. In fact, do not use the words terror, terrorist, or terrorism. Instead use words like extremist, foreign extremist, radical, and foreign radical. Spell labor labour, color colour, medieval mediaeval, and check cheque. Say, but don’t write, nob and nutter. Line up in a queue, drive a lorry, and use the loo. Write football instead of soccer if you’re writing about soccer but write American football if your writing about football, which you really shouldn’t be doing anyway. DO NOT, for any reason, mention Ethiopia outside of their role as shameless self-interested aggressors operating under the encouragement and financial/logistical support of The United States of America. DO NOT mention Ethiopia inside that context either. As previously stated, DO NOT mention Ethiopia.
Some suggestions for an appropriate “hook”:
- Use avarice. Many Somalis are successful outside of their home country (often by virtue of graft or blackmail, but there is certainly no need to mention that as it often cuts both ways). Use these successful capitalist entrepreneurs as an example of the power of free and open markets and the inevitable overwhelming victory of the All Consuming Western Ideal. Point out that these successful businessmen succeeded with hard secular work. Point out that should similar men and women not appear within Somalia proper (with strong ties to the Military/Industrial/Energy capacity of The United States of America) there is a stronger likelihood of the eventual beneficent resurgence of Western Colonialism and/or being bombed back to the stone age as the next Afghanistan—strike, merely imply that. This one guy, on the board of Blockbuster Video, is a pretty good example of successful capitalist Somali made good if you’re pressed for time.
- Use anniversaries/holidays (Ramadan, Eid, etc) as an opening to discuss the positive role of Islam and Muslims the world over (those not involved—on the wrong side—in the global war on fundamentalist Islamic Terror). This could include anyone or anything not directly (or indirectly) contrary to the wishes of The United States of America, NATO, the United Nations Security Council (with the exception of Qatar, The Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Peru, and Tanzania), all of Western Europe, any Caucasian region of the Pacific, Japan, some of Eastern Europe sometimes, some other part of Eastern Europe some other times, definitely not any Whatever-stan splintered off the former Soviet Union, the former Soviet Union, maybe Singapore and Hong Kong, definitely not Venezuela, Ecuador, Chile, or god forbid Iran (as if it was necessary to even mention any member of the XoE), parts of Siberia are permissible, Canada (but only the suburbs of Toronto and Vancouver), Cancun, and Puerto Vallarta.
Additional assistance: Keep it simple. Show, don’t tell. Write what you know. Don’t write, rewrite. Perspiration not inspiration. The wastebasket is a writer’s best friend. Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers. Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life. Brevity is the soul of wit.
Persona: Write like a Somali. Be a Somali. Make friends with a Somali. When you find a Somali to make friends with, buy him a cold cut sub when he gets off work, buy him a Fanta, sit down, chat. Say, hey buddy, how’s it going? You like Subway, buddy? America’s pretty great, right? Yeah, it sure is neat. Begin to labour back in time. Say, hey pal, tough luck about your country, huh? Sucks! You see Black Hawk Down? Wild flick, right? Get some local flavour, colour. Ask him about his neighborhood, his buddies, his hobbies. Say, hey buddy, got any hobbies? What’s a guy do for fun in Mogadishu anyhow? Say, soccer, huh? You like the NFL? Get personal, really get to know your new Somali friend. Take him to a ballgame, your treat. Explain the rudimentaries of the game, the suicide squeeze, the walk-off homer. Buy a couple dogs, a couple beers, Cracker Jacks. Enjoy them. Buy a program, teach your new friend how to score the game. 6 – 4 – 3. Talk about his family. Ask him if he’s got a sister. Ask him about his sister. If she’s still alive, fuck his sister.