Hooked on a Feeling

The 'Times' Records a Year of Bitterness

Globally, the Times has unearthed what might be called bitter zones. Thus in Colombia, citizens are "bitter after three years of fruitless peace talks," and Venezuela is the home of "increasingly bitter and violent conflict." After a car bomb killed a group of Kenyans and Israeli tourists, the former president of Kenya said, "We are very bitter." Jerusalem has become a "bitter psychological battleground" and the Mideast a place where peace is rarely discussed "without bitterness, or even irony." Saudis "are bitter at Americans," who are bitter at the Saudis, and so on. In Pakistan, Islamic militants have become "bitter, nasty and organized." And let's not forget the "four million bitter and disenchanted Muslim immigrants" from North Africa who live in Parisian slums.

Finally there is Afghanistan, where some villagers dismissed with "bitter mockery" the idea that a tall man mowed down by a U.S. missile was an Al Qaeda operative, and others have been known to eat a "hideously bitter" meal of wild spinach and grass. But as bitterness goes, Iraq is the new ground zero. The Kurds are "deeply bitter" at Bush the first, because he encouraged an uprising after the Gulf War but didn't support it until 1 million Kurds had fled to Turkey. And in a recent speech, Saddam Hussein reached into the "grab bag of bitter invective" he regularly uses to dis the U.S.

Did the Times impose this bitter jest on us, or was it there to begin with? Either way, 2002 was especially unbuttered. Let's hope next year gets better.


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