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You have to feel sorry for the Zips. Since losing the war and their home world to our victorious armada and superior technology, they have been a sad and demoralized people, living as an underclass among us. How that must hurt. It’s not like they don’t deserve it. They’d have annihilated us had things worked out differently. Their numbers reduced to a few tens of thousands from the billions of them that challenged us. Now they live in abject poverty and appalling conditions in their ghettos and on the streets of our great cities. Hated and despised, they are a pitiful lot.
Of course our charitable organizations and welfare societies try to alleviate the worst of their suffering. But the Zips are a proud, willful and stubborn race and keep to themselves. They don’t even make an effort to integrate with us. They show no interest in learning our culture or our language. Instead they keep to themselves and cling to their defeated and discredited ways. They dress in the style of their bygone world, pray to their god or gods and eat their foul smelling food. Is it any wonder we cannot stand to be near them?
Our security services keep a close watch on them. The long war has sown deep distrust on both sides. Of course their funny appearance and strange ways have made infiltration impossible so we must rely on their corrupt and greedy natures to bribe informers for intelligence. Their desperate condition makes this rather easy.
I work for one of our many state security agencies as a translator. I learned the Zip language during the war. Most people find their language guttural and weird but I have come if not to appreciate it exactly, at least to tolerate it. It is my job to translate all their electronic and printed communication. There is not all that much of either due to their extreme poverty but there is enough to keep me and my colleagues busy.
In some of our larger cities there are Zip markets, Zip newspapers, Zip churches and Zip restaurants. Very few of our citizens are drawn to these places and the security services keep a close eye on anyone who does. All Zip activities are scrutinized for any hint of sedition or rebellion. The name Zip is a derogatory one. It is short for “inzip’toma” which in our language means “dullard.” It refers to our superiority in all things. This is not being entirely fair to the Zips who have an ancient culture. I have read some of their poetry and can attest to the fact that there is a sensitivity and intelligence there somewhere. Maybe someday when the scars of the war have healed, Zip creative and culture will be appreciated.
As things are currently, my people are not yet ready to forgive and forget. The war was long and filled with atrocities on both sides though ours are seldom mentioned. To us, the victors, the Zips are portrayed as little better than vermin, mindless killers whose defeat and near extinction are proof of god’s justice. I suspect the Zips feel the same animosity towards us.
It’s ironic when you think about how similar we are in appearance. Zips evolved on their oxygen rich home world in a similar manner. Their world’s flora and fauna bears a striking resemblance to ours. Even their history of struggle from barbarism to civilization mirrors our own. Perhaps that is where the problems lie—our similar war-like natures and territoriality. I don’t know. The cause of our mutual antipathy is a question for the philosophers. For the moment they are lucky to have any freedom at all considering how reviled they are.
One good thing that has come out of the Zip defeat and the influx of refugees into our cities has been its impact upon our politics. A loud and vocal debate rages up and down the political spectrum from the very liberal, amnesty lovers on the left to the “finish the job and kill them all” far right lunatics. I personally come down somewhere right of center. I think the Zips should be allowed to live but on reservations, far from our cities, our children and our technology. They are a cunning race and, though scattered and broken, they could re-group and rearm and start the war all over again. I think I reflect the majority of my countrymen in this attitude. The Zips are people, they just aren’t us. They aren’t T’sal- akat. They call themselves “human beings” whatever the hell that means.
micheledutcher - It's fun to see human beings talked about from a distance. Here's to hoping that our futures aren't this bleak - but you never know.
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