Of Foxes, Camels and Unlawful Combatants | Harper's Magazine

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Of Foxes, Camels and Unlawful Combatants



An old Persian wisdom story relates how a fox came to see the jackals,
and said, “Brothers, loan me some money. I need to leave the country
quickly.” The jackals were surprised. “Surely a fox can survive any
political change?” “I have heard,” the fox replied, “that the king has
issued an edict that all camels shall now be beasts of burden.” The
jackals laughed. “So? You’re a fox!” “You fools,” replied the fox, “all
it will take is for my enemies so say I am a camel, and people will come
running with loads for me to carry on my back.”

No doubt, journalists and statesmen in animal society seriously debated
the “transportation problem.” They debated “what does or does not count
as a camel,” “how far and how much weight shall a camel legitimately
bear?” and “do international transportation laws apply to camels?” just
like we debate “what is torture?” “does stress torture count?” and “how
far can one legitimately go in coercing a prisoner?” Meantime, the rest
of the animals carried the burden of the unfolding transportation
violence which, despite all the talk, never ended. Good luck to the
rest of you camels.

Muslih-ud-Din Mushrif-ibn-Abdullah (Sa’adi) (????), Gulistan (??????) from: “The Manner of Kings,” Hekayat 16 (1258 CE)(as retold by Darius Rejali, 2006)

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