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Short distance from Toledo to Baghdad - Ed Brock

I know it may seem a little like a cheap shot to draw this connection, but here it is.

It's a short distance from Toledo to Baghdad.

What brings the two cities together in my mental space is that over the weekend is that both are good examples of an eternal divide between groups.

In Toledo a plan by America's Nazi Party to march straight through a predominantly black neighborhood set off a riot. Hardly surprising, but that's my point.

In Baghdad the insurgency continues despite the evident passage of a constitution over the weekend. That would be because the constitution fails to mollify the concerns of the minority Sunni Muslims. Again, not surprising.

It's all just more of the same, seemingly never ending cycle of violence. We've talked about it before over and over and over again ad nauseum.

The Toledo situation brings to mind the scene in the “Blues Brothers” movie in which the movie's anti-heroes, Jake and Elwood Blues, find themselves stuck in traffic while a group of Illinois Nazis spout there ridiculous nonsense to an angry crowd.

“I hate Illinois Nazis,” Jake mutters, and they hit the gas, forcing the Nazis to jump off a bridge to escape their hurtling car.

Of course, what happened in Toledo is far from funny, and the worst part is that, while the angry mob formed for an understandable reason it quickly degenerated into victimizing those who had nothing to do with the Nazis. But of course, that's what mobs do.

White vs. Black is the great divide in America, but so is Black vs. Asian and Hispanic vs. Black. In Iraq the divide falls between the long oppressed Shiite Muslim majority, who are now taking full advantage of their numbers in this new democracy, and the Kurds to the north who will, eventually, want their own country.

We look at Iraq and say “Now why can't those people get along,” but Toledo proves that we need to look to the plank in our own eye. We think we get along here, but the divides multiply every day between races, between sexes, between homo- and heterosexual, between religious and secular and between conservative and liberal.

Perhaps despite their ongoing fractiousness the Iraqi people will manage to work things out, as we have for the past two centuries. On the other hand, maybe the tenuous thread of mutually agreed cooperation will break in both our countries and everything will crumble.

More than likely America will persevere as it always has while Iraq, so used to being squeezed together by Saddam's iron fist, will descend into civil war. That's where I'd put my money, regrettable though it may be.

But if you want to know why, just put your focus a little closer to home and realize this paradox. Our divisiveness is what we have in common.

Ed Brock covers public safety and municipal governments for the News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext. 254 or at ebrock@news-daily.com .