Writings / Creative Non-Fiction

A Solidarity Letter to a Victim of Michael Vick

Pius Adesanmi

Greetings from Al-Janna.

Before you start wondering where on earth I’m writing you from, Al-Janna is not on earth. It is that place of infinite bliss where Muslims who serve Allah faithfully and adhere strictly to the teachings of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon Him) during their lifetime go to enjoy eternal life. It is similar to what your American owners call paradise in their evangelical Christian religion. I arrived here last week with all my limbs missing but I am happy all the same that I have finally escaped the Jahannam that your American owners have made of my country, Iraq. I hope you do not pronounce it Airak like your owners. That’s infuriating! It is ee-r-a-k!!!

Lest I forget, Jahannam is the place of eternal damnation in my religion, something like that place they call hell in the Bible of your Christian owners. Your owners may know it as Gehenna if they are Americans of Jewish extraction. Hundreds of my brothers and sisters, my people back in Iraq, arrive here daily bearing tales of women and children in a hurry to get out of the American Jahannam in Iraq and join us here in Al-Janna. How did I get here? Well, we were at my cousin’s wedding, making merry. Next thing I know, a blast and we all vaporized, all hundred guests, including the bride and the groom. Every gathering in today’s Iraq is suspicious in the eyes of an Occupier whose psyche is held hostage by the T word. The only two things the Occupier does not find suspicious are the smell and the sight of oil. Sometimes he even finds himself suspicious, opens fire on himself, and calls it friendly fire. The word on the street is that they suspected our innocent wedding party, called in attack helicopters and a few bunker-busting smart bombs were dropped on us. Anyway, that’s a minor detail of daily life in Iraq. It is really not newsworthy.

But I digress. I apologize. I’ve become quite garrulous and wordy since I got here. This letter is not about me. It is a letter of solidarity and commiseration. News travels fast and I have recently received news from American Muslim arrivals here of your near-death experience in the hands of that barbaric African American football player, Michael Vick, who, I hear, has been declared guilty by the American public before his trial on charges of sponsoring and facilitating dog fighting. The NFL is already making a lot of noise about the distance they have put between themselves and Mr. Vick. Nike has cancelled endorsement deals. Animal-loving, placard-carrying protesters are having a field day. I hear his alleged participation in this primitive, crude, and backward practice has provided a legitimate excuse to call him all kinds of names that would have been considered unacceptable racial and racist slurs had the circumstances been different. I hear that in the society of your owners, it is always welcome for the occasional person of colour to commit a horrible faux pas that could constitute a convenient and legit veneer for the public explosion of secretly-held, long-suppressed prejudices. Now, why would Michael Vick go and do something like this? Something this barbaric, almost lifted out of the practices of his folks in the heart of darkness. I guess your owners are by now murmuring that it is not always easy to take the African jungle out of the African American. Three centuries of trying to inoculate Vick against the primordial barbarity of his African origins and see where we are at!

But I digress again! I am beginning to suspect my own digressions. Remember I’ve only just escaped an enclave of destructive suspicion. It’s too early to expect coherence from me given the incoherent world I’ve just left behind. This letter is not about Michael Vick either. I don’t care about him and I hope he gets his just desserts if proven guilty. This letter is about you. First, I am sorry to hear about all you went through. The details have been graphic and gory. To be raised and trained for the sole purpose of tearing at and destroying your own kind just for the gain, pride, and pleasure of man is an unfathomable fate. Man! What a traitor! What a betrayer! What a way to repay his best friend! You who have served him so faithfully, so absolutely ever since his accursed ancestors domesticated you. If he is a hunter, you helped him in his profession; if he is a shepherd, you’re on duty almost 24/7, rallying the sheep and keeping predators at bay; if he is blind, you’re trained to be his eyes; if he has kids, you play with them; if he is lonely, you keep him company. If he is attacked or approached by strangers, you bark your lungs out, ready to lay down your life for him. I can go on and on. What have you not done for man? You never ask for gold in return. You never ask for silver. You just serve him selflessly. Yet he trains you on your own?

Given your location in America, I can only ask you to be comforted by the knowledge that the best animal health care delivery service in the world will be mobilized round the clock to take care of your physical scars and injuries. Be comforted by the fact that while they can live with the idea of over 40 million of their fellow citizens being too poor to afford health insurance, Americans will not tolerate, even for a second, an imperfect animal health care system. Be comforted by the knowledge that the world’s best trained dog psychologists, dog therapists, dog masseurs, and dog whisperers will be mobilized to take care of your emotional scars. Take comfort in the fact that American dog dieticians will also intervene with numerous prescriptions of a restorative diet. Academics may even write postmodernist tomes about your experience and the construction of trauma. If you’re a female dog, God help Mr. Vick! The radical feminist establishment may join the fray against him. And if he hasn’t done it yet, it won’t be long before White House Press Secretary, Tony Snow, calls a press conference to condemn Vick and offer you presidential commiseration. Last time a dog died in the White House, Ari Fleischer, one of Mr. Snow’s predecessors, called an international press conference to announce the death of that presidential dog. We laughed then in Iraq and wondered about the strange customs of Americans. We even heard that some Republican friends of President Bush called for a probe to ascertain whether the terrorists were somehow responsible for the death of that presidential pet. You know how rumours tend to fly around in seasons of madness.

About The Author


Pius Adesanmi is a a poet and Associate Professor of English at Carleton University, where he is also Director of the Project on New African Literatures, PONAL.

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