Joe Farah, 63, a teacher, community activist, public scholar and part of NUVO's community of free-lance writers, passed away Sept. 14 from illness related to cancer.
A Vietnam veteran, Farah was known for his expertise and analysis regarding the history and uses of propaganda. He was also an outspoken advocate for social justice and a leader of the local Veterans for Peace organization. Farah was a principled debater and a straightforward conversationalist.
The irony that he shared the same name as Joseph Farah, the right-wing columnist, was a source of amusement to him. That our Farah was once able to actually engage his doppelganger in a dialogue was testament to our friend's curiosity, civility and sense of humor.
But what many of us admired most about Farah was his willingness to stand up and put himself on the line. In December of 2003, Farah took to the streets to try and better understand what it was like to be homeless at Christmas. This is part of what he wrote:
"I go through the food line where a meal of overcooked, tasteless ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls and cake is served on a black, plastic plate, along with a can of Coca-Cola. I sit down at one of the long tables hoping to engage in conversation with some of the veterans and hear their stories.
"It doesn't happen.
"We merely sit there quietly and eat. It's as if everyone there is trying to cling onto some hidden thread of dignity, or remember some fond memory of happier times. Some consume everything on their plate with such gusto that you know they haven't eaten anything substantial for some time. Others just poke at their food and find it to their disliking. Where is it written that the poor have to happily accept and like everything somebody gives them?
"The real gift of the day is not the free meal. Nor is it Santa Claus, the toys for kids, the jazz music or even the services of the health agencies. Instead, it's socks. Clean, dry socks."
A memorial event honoring Joe Farah will be held Sunday, Oct. 9 from 1-3 p.m. on the Butler campus at Robertson Hall.