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let's attack aruba
aruba, jamaica, gee i wanna take ya
by robert a. melos
pop culture

With all due respect to the family of Natalie Holloway, I’m sick and tired of hearing about a girl who disappeared while vacationing in Aruba. Granted there has been a lot of talk about the circumstances under which the teenager, vacationing as a high school graduation celebration present from her parents, disappeared, but is she the only girl to ever disappear in a foreign country? Or disappear in general while last being seen partying with several boys her own age, drinking in a bar?

The latest news is the big announcement from Natalie’s parents. What big announcement, you ask? Well, it seems Beth Twitty, Natalie’s mother, wants America to boycott Aruba as a travel destination.

Okay, it seems like a hysterical mother grieving the possible loss of her daughter. Is it? Or should she expect her government to support her demand of a boycott? Should she or any other citizen for that matter expect their government to support them?

When it comes down to that expectation of “they’ve got my back,” should Americans really expect their government to “have their back?”

If we look at recent historical events, like say a hurricane or two, Americans shouldn’t have expectations of government support. It’s obvious to me we are living in an every-man-for-himself time. With that in mind, I would suggest Ms. Twitty hijack a naval destroyer, cruise down to Aruba, and start taking potshots at the island. If she wants to get real attention, plant a missile in that Van Der whatever kid’s house. So what if she doesn’t know how to launch missiles and maybe makes a few mistakes with coordinates? She might accidentally take out one of those smug brothers who are implicated in the whole disappearance case, and give Rita Crosby a real ratings boost.

Why is it so important to focus on Natalie Holloway? What makes her more important than every other teenage girl who disappeared this year? Well that’s a no brainer. Natalie Holloway epitomizes America. She is, or was, a beautiful young girl. She is constantly being depicted as a cheerleader, which she was in high school. She’s every American’s daughter. On top of that, she’s white.

Yes, you read that correctly. Natalie Holloway is, or was, a white girl. Had she not been Caucasian, she would more than likely have been forgotten or written off as just another girl who disappeared while vacationing in a foreign country. Whether all the girls who disappeared in a foreign country are dead or have been sold into sexual slavery to some wealthy Middle Eastern Sheik, I wonder if any of them have gotten the publicity of Natalie Holloway? I doubt it because she is the only girl who disappeared that I’ve heard about this year.

So should we go to war over the disappearance of one girl? Why not? We went to war in Iraq for a plethora of changing reasons, and have lost more than 2000 or our military troops, and really aren’t defending America in any way shape or form. Why not go to war over an innocent, or perhaps not so innocent, American girl? Why not send our troops to a nice location, with good weather and sandy beaches, and kick some Dutch boy butt like we did to Afghanistan back when we were looking for Osama Bin-Laden before we forgot he was the real person behind the 9/11 attacks.

Besides, we could use more tropical territories in the US. And I’m pretty sure America could take Aruba in a best two out of three beach volleyball battle.

I’m sorry if I come across as crass and uncaring. That isn’t my intention. I do care. I care a lot. I care about the families of the more than 2000 dead military troops, and the families of the countless hundreds lost in the recent hurricanes, and the families of the hundreds of thousands lost in last year’s tsunami, and I do feel sorry for Natalie Holloway’s family because they lost someone they loved, but I’m tired of hearing about it on a daily basis.

In my opinion, the best way of ending the media non-event is to create a media event big enough to take our attention from this missing girl story and turn it into the Arubian Conflict, a special on MSNBC. It would occupy Tucker Carlson, Joe Scarborough, Rita Crosby, and a plethora of other reporters who could stop speculating on the whereabouts of the missing girl and start speculating on America’s ability to beat one tiny Caribbean island.


Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

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dan gonzalez
11.8.05 @ 11:07a

It’s obvious to me we are living in an every-man-for-himself time.

You think? We're dumping tons of money to the gulf for rebuilding, even after the corrupt local government pissed the original levee cash away on building highway overpasses and tourist infrastructure. I have an aqaintance in the Guard who went down there, he gave out food to people in Lexuses and Hummers, he gave food to a guy in a Mazda who was eating a Big Mac at the relief center. Why? Because no one could be turned down. It seems like we'll help anyone, the stupid and the corrupt included!

I think absolutism may be one of our stumbling blocks through these issues. Katrina, 9/11, Iraq are complex issues, yet we say with absolute certainty that OBL was the sole perpetrator of 9/11 despite the fact that the intelligence apparatus that asserts that claim is the same one that asserted Hussein had 'stockpiles' of WMD's. One is an absolute fact, one an absolute lie? I doubt it. The truth seems obviously grayer.

robert melos
11.8.05 @ 6:39p

Osama Bin-Laden claimed responsibility in a videotape shortly after 9/11. I base my belief of his responsibility on all the videotapes and speeches he gave prior to and after 9/11. I feel military intelligence is a contradiction in terms.

As for offering relief to victims of the hurricanes, some did receive relief. Some are still waiting to be recognized. It's the ones who wait to be recognized with whom I take issue. Don't wait to be helped, or expect help to come. Help yourself first, and if help does arrive accept it. Take all you are offered because you may not be offered it again.

dan gonzalez
11.9.05 @ 11:42a

Don't wait to be helped, or expect help to come. Help yourself first, and if help does arrive accept it.

To me, you've just clearly articulated the requisite responsibility that every citizen is implicitly charged with in conjunction with the rights granted them as a US citizen. Also, it's the main principle I'm trying to raise my children with.

The only thing I'd add? "Help others as much as possible, when you can afford it, and however you see fit."

robert melos
11.9.05 @ 10:29p

Unfortunately most of the people who need the most help don't seem to have the common sense to get out of their own way.

It's one thing to be physically or emotionally helpless in a particular situation, but many people just seem to sit back and expect the government to come to their rescue.

With the Natalie Holloway issue I do sympathisize with her family, but in part I blame the parents who would give a trip like that to a teenage girl. Maybe it's just the way I was raised or the times in which I was raised that the concept of my parents giving me a high school graduation present of a trip to anywhere blows me away. Sure I got a car, a used Ford Grenada, as a graduation present, but I didn't get a trip to a tropical resort.

jeff wilder
11.11.05 @ 9:40a

start speculating on America’s ability to beat one tiny Caribbean island.

We already learned we could do that back in 1983.

(Sings) Grenada/Grenada/Gotta kick those commies butts.

russ carr
11.11.05 @ 12:00p

Heartbreak Ridge! wooooo!

robert melos
11.12.05 @ 1:58a

But 1983 was a long time ago. We're a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately country. Grenada shamada. We need more beach front property.

sandra thompson
11.18.05 @ 8:14a

Somebody had to say it and I hope you don't get too much hate mail for doing it. We here in Florida have been hunkering down for hurricanes for as long as people have lived in this intemperate, swampy, wonderful, warm place. When people on the beaches evacuate we don't have too many drownings in the storm surges and if people will just stay inside during the big blow they won't get killed by falling trees or downed power lines. We haul a couple of weeks' nonperishable supplies into the garage and read the generator manual one more time, freeze bottles of water in the freezer, get out the candles and "hurricane lamps," (wonder why they're called that!!!) and voila! Wait it out. Of course, when you live in a place below sea level and you have no money whatever to evacuate you're kinda SOL. If some level of government doesn't help you you could actually DIE, as some people on the Gulf Coast did indeed do. I just hope the Katrina experience has caused all our local officials to create and implement disaster plans which actually help people. That's the least we can hope for. Anything less than that is pure incompetence.

tracey kelley
11.18.05 @ 11:28a

1) I think the mother is grieving the most because she can't find her daughter.

2) I don't think the mother wants to admit to herself that her daughter was slutting around with a couple of cute foreign-tongued boys, who were probably vacationing there also and are loooonng gone by now.

That being said, there is no doubt that the way a foreign country handles a crime is not on the level we in America expect it to be. However, she can't bring down a whole country because of it, and one day she'll wake up and realize that.

According to Project Jason, "every 37 seconds in America, a child disappears. That is an average of 2,000 children per day. In the course of a year, over 850,000 adults and children disappear. Of those 850,000, approximately 97,000 cases will remain open. Almost half of those are adults."

At least John Walsh decided to act on the side of justice for all after his son was murdered. The mother of Natalie is doing it the American way - me first, screw everyone else.


tim lockwood
11.19.05 @ 1:21a

On top of that, she’s white.

Holy crap, it's like you've been reading my mind. The first time I saw the Holloway thing on Fox News (not my choice, I'm kinda stuck with it being on the bigscreen where I work), it really hit me that the only kidnap or murder victims you really hear much about are pretty white girls, usually upper middle class, who fall into that wholesome all-American stereotype (prime example: Laci Petersen). Since then, I've come to the conclusion that if you're a black of either sex, you must be safe from violent crime.

People are abducted and killed all the time, as noted above. It's a sad fact, and the media playing up one very biased story does nothing to help solve the rest of these crimes. As for boycotting Aruba, I think that's the wrong way to go. If the girl is there to be found, we need more people willing to volunteer their time to travel to Aruba to help look. They need more sets of eyes looking, not fewer.

robert melos
11.19.05 @ 2:43a

During the time since the Natalie Holloway story began I've seen two other stories on girls roughly about the same age who disappeared. One was an African American woman in Philadelphia. There was no major news coverage, just a few mentions occasionally on the news for about a week. She was found dead. The second story was about a Latina girl who may have really been sold into sexual slavery in a small border town in either Texas or New Mexico, I forget which. She has not yet been found, nor have I seen another story on her. In fact, that story was mostly about how dangerous the town was, and very little about the girl.

I do feel had Natalie Holloway been anything other than caucasian we would not be hearing about her this many months later. Most people of color are ignored by the mainstream news unless they have another claim to fame such as the Sakia Gunn case, where the teenage girl was murdered because she rejected the advances of a much older man by telling him she was a lesbian. There was also a case of a drive by shooting of a girl who was the daughter of a New Jersey's poet laureate. Those two cases were in New Jersey, so I don't know how much national coverage they really did get.

dan gonzalez
11.20.05 @ 1:54a

I have the same thought about all of the topics discussed here, and Robert summed it up with "We're a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately country." It's way past time that we quit asking that question, and start taking more responsibility for ourselves.

In my mind, Holloway is aloud to slut around if she wants to, and if she does, she shouldn't have to die over it. And anyone with a brain knows that if, you allow your daughter, no matter how well you think you know her, to go to a foreign country with 120 other kids her age, and five chaperones, maybe there'll be some fucking around? I wouldn't wish that on anybody, and certainly it is an unjust, untimely death, but that's life: small risks don't always beget small consequences.

As for media coverage, the argument for racism is weak because these media pigs are primarily concerned with ratings, and they only cover stuff that rates. If Holloway is being covered, it's become some group of catatonic couch potatoes are insatiably watching it. We, or some subset of 'we', are ultimately responsible for the fact that tv is turning to shit. For example, Wolf Blitzer on CNN recently pledged that "CNN is your network for Katrina coverage, and we will stay until the Gulf is rebuilt." That's like, what, 10 years? I somehow think that the only way he can make good on those words will be running the Katrina 'Situation Room' from his basement on public access.

And as for Katrina itself, the poor people who died were helpless, and that is grievous. But they voted for the local gov't Dems who provided them that crazy-ass version of welfare. which could obviously only make them more helpless as it ran its course, and all the while diverting levee funds to build better highway overpasses, casino development, and other initiatives to build tourism. And now we wonder how the gov couldn't help them, that broke-ass, corrupt totally scumbag local government? Because that gov is morally and financially bankrupt.

Time to cut the opiatic umbilical and take better care of ourselves.


robert melos
11.20.05 @ 2:57a

Not that I want to detract from the main topic of taking over Aruba and creating another resort for America, but recently I've gotten acquainted with the NJ welfare system through a user of that system, and I do think our welfare systems need a complete overhaul. Personally I feel they are designed to make the people more dependent on them rather than helping them to become less dependent. That is the flaw our government seems to refuse to address. Democrat or Republican, neither party seems to truly want to correct the system, and too many people take advantage of the system, such as my acquaintance milking it to the limit and then moving to another state and starting the process over again. However, correcting the system is only part of the solution. Until we live in that perfect society where people WANT to be productive instead of milking the system, trying to force a change of mind set is impossible and doomed to failure.

Now back to the whole issue of conquering the Caribbean....

dan gonzalez
11.20.05 @ 10:49p

I want Barbados.

All hale Gonzo, King - no, wait - High LORD of Barbados!

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