With the war in Iraq now officially over and the Occupy Wall Street movement less visible, life in New York was expected to return to normal. Instead, several recent passersby in Manhattan’s financial district have reported seeing thousands of deceased Iraqi civilians taking up residence at Zuccotti Park. The park served for two months in the fall of 2011 as a protest base for thousands of OWS activists.
Although the Iraqis remain largely silent and immobile, some witnesses claim to have seen individual deceased mothers, students, and the elderly holding up the backs of old pizza boxes, on which have been scrawled the English words, “Remember Me.”
Public reaction has been mixed. Some say the dead are “occupying” the park in nonviolent protest; others accuse the Iraqis of faking their own deaths in order to flout U.S. immigration laws. The Bloomberg administration, having evicted hundreds of living protesters from the park in mid-November, has thus far maintained a wary tolerance.
“I’m not sure we can give twinkles to this new batch of malcontents,” stated Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a press conference yesterday, wiggling his upwardly pointing fingers in the OWS sign of agreement. “But so long as they don’t discourage business as usual, New York will allow them to stay.”
“In your face, Bloomberg!” shouted Sally Street, an Occupy movement protester interviewed in an atrium on Wall Street, where an activist meeting was taking place.
“Just let the cops try and bust these Iraqis,” continued Ms. Street, one of Zuccotti Park’s recent evictees. “These folks are impervious to pepper spray. They don’t mind the cold weather. They never sleep, so they don’t need blankets or tents. And they’re clearly not going to bug the local merchants to use their bathrooms. Hey, this is what democracy looks like.”
Other OWS protesters greeted this statement with downwardly wiggling “de-twinkle” fingers, to express disagreement. “Why do you have to be dead in order to occupy public space?” queried Mike Check, frequent presence at the OWS General Assembly. “I mean, if these Iraqi dudes are supposed to be, uh, no longer with us, how come they’re still with us?”
“Maybe we need them here,” called a lone voice somewhere amid the crowd. “Maybe, if we want the Occupy movement to last, we’ve got to see the ordinary people our government has killed all over the world as part of the 99 percent.”
According to an unofficial count, the number of deceased Iraqis inhabiting Zuccotti Park is around 126,000. Interestingly, this figure coincides with the conservative estimate of Iraqi civilians killed as a direct result of military violence since the war began in March 2003. Other sources claim the Iraqi death toll is well over 1,000,000, not counting another 500,000 Iraqis, mostly children, who died due to earlier U.S. economic sanctions against Iraq.
“Oh, who cares how many of those ne’er-do-wells expired?” remarked Marge N. Call, financial analyst whose condominium is near Zuccotti Park, and who had strolled by walking her daschund. “It was bad enough when living Americans were drumming and defecating here, but dead Arabs? Even if they’re clean and quiet they’re much more annoying, morally.” Ms. Call walked briskly away, neglecting to clean up her dog’s leavings.
“This is also an insult to the 3,000 Americans who perished so tragically on September 11,” added Eustace Tilley, prosperous man-about-town, who frequently appears on the cover of The New Yorker. Mr. Tilley, who spearheaded “Bless Our Bull,” an ad hoc committee to protect the Wall Street “Charging Bull” sculpture from anti-capitalist vandals, explained by crunching some numbers.
“If you divide 126,000 by 3,000, you get exactly 42. That is the greater real value of each of the people who were lost at the World Trade Center, compared to the unwashed Iraqi dead. Please note that the value of those who died on 9-11 increases almost exponentially when you factor in additional numbers of ordinary civilians killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan because of U.S.-sponsored military ventures.”
Perhaps it is because they feel an affinity with others of low market value that the Iraqi dead keep entering the country. Stories have begun circulating that some of these Iraqis are migrating to various foreclosure sites, and sit silently among former homeowners and Occupy movement protesters.
Accounts such as these are, to many politicians, cause for alarm. “Isn’t it obvious these — things — are illegal aliens?” asked Republican Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum. “As soon as our backs are turned, they’re going to reproduce. Their little zombie terrorist anchor-babies will grow up to demand voter ID cards and burn our Bibles.”
Anonymous White House insiders, however, describe such opinions as shortsighted. They add that the U.S. is lucky to be hit with an occupation of the Iraqi dead, and not the Iraqi living. “Imagine what we’d have to deal with if the 3.5 million Iraqis made refugees by the war were to come here,” speculated one source. “We wouldn’t have the faintest idea what to do.”
In quick agreement, the other anonymous White House sources responded with a unanimous flurry of twinkle-fingers, earnestly waving skyward.
Susie Day is a writer.