tea party in Iraq
recent "revelations" of Iraqi mistreatment, the Bush horror show in
Iraq has assumed a surreal dimension, say
we watch the horror unfolding before our eyes like a giant time-delayed
broadcast, a deeper horror should also be setting in. The entire discussion
surrounding the "revelations" of mistreatment of Iraqis by the US
(does bombing water purification plants count as mistreatment?) has taken on a
sickening, surreal turn. I feel like we are watching "things fall
apart," as Chinua Achebe once wrote. The center, indeed, does not hold, and
we are witnessing the spiraling out of control of almost every element of our
perception: moral compass spinning aimlessly, intellectual ground slipping,
right merging with wrong, a sort of Mad Imperial Tea Party. Up is down, day is
night, and war is peace as we descend Down the Spider Hole.
Let's be blunt here: this is nothing new –
this is just some more shit hitting the fan. Let's not forget the Giant
Elephant in the Room – the albatross the Bushies have hung around the necks of
the American people. Make no mistake and keep on track: This is an illegal war,
and that's where it all starts. It's not for nothing that the Nuremburg tribunal
saved special venom for the ultimate War Crime of starting an unprovoked war of
aggression: the Fog of War may cloud certain truths, but the worst crime is that
which "contains the accumulated evil of the hole."
Let's not be naïve: This administration, more so than Kerry (a Lesser War
Criminal who admitted to atrocities, slated to replace the one in office come
January) is using this opportunity to cleanse themselves of the atrocities that
they have imposed by "bringing Democracy to the Middle East."
In war games, or any other hostile takeover on behalf of imperial interests, the
thing that is considered "the enemy" is always demonized. From the
beginning of the American experiment, remember the 'savage' Native Americans who
were slaughtered and forced off their lands to make a place for "the chosen
people" to create their Utopia.
In order to rebel against their European tormentors, the colonists moved to
another place and wiped out an entire population. Other European countries are
also players in the age-old game of humiliating while plundering and murdering.
The British treatment of Africans and Indians? The Dutch South Africans? The
Americans in Korea and Vietnam?
There is, of course, no defense for these newly revealed, abhorrent
'findings'-though they can hardly be labeled as such given the facts that led to
this tragedy. This administration cheated its way into power and is now using
this opportunity to let themselves off the hook.
Because they are undoubtedly well aware of Bush's moral and popular
decline-though his own bio clouds the claim that he was born with any morality
in the first place--this incident provides a perfect way to relieve the tension
that has built up around them and the war.
Here we see Bush on the lesser-watched Arab TV claiming that these
"aberrations" had nothing to do with what America is all about. This
is just a "stain" on the country's history. He makes no apology, of
course, for bombing schools, mosques, hospitals-the entire infrastructure of a
sovereign nation-nor for the mass detention of innocents while denying them the
due process of the Democracy which is our alleged gift. Democracy is messy, we
are told--yeah, right--especially for those on the shit end of the stick.
Bush has been asked to apologize, as if by doing so he could absorb the guilt of
his people, be a martyr and cleanse them of the sin of looking blindly on and
supporting this evil war. Meanwhile, to cement this ironclad commitment to
"justice," Rumsfeld is being asked to resign! Well, I never! Of
course, this is more a media phenomenon than an actual one, but still –
resign? It never ceases to amaze me how those with their greasy hands on the
levers of power, whose policies kill people by the hundreds of thousands – how
they can meet a fate less than that of a black teenager who sells an ounce of
And don't hold your breath, by the way. After all we've learned of this
administration, it's anathema (that means they don't like it, for Seinfeld
viewers) for them to take any responsibility whatsoever for their criminal
behavior. Heads up to the mainstream media: there is no way in hell Rumsfeld
will resign, or be asked to do so by his close buddy. Their time will come: my
own eight ball tells me it's "Outlook Good" that they will all be
moved, one by one, perhaps to one of the 'detention facilities' of which they
are so fond, after the indictments hit.
The revelations plainly show just how unplanned and unorganized Iraq's
"Road Map to Democracy" was. No streets paved with gold (or oil –
take your pick) here. Feival Mouskowitz would be disappointed. The spin of the
photo scandal miraculously and inexplicably relieves them of having to explain
why they attacked Iraq in the first place-at least insofar as the
"debate" has evolved on the American political scene. Unless they are
forced to admit that these soldiers were reservists who took orders from the
chain of command, the Bush administration is using untrained young men and women
to do its dirty work. What else is new? We are now looking at six to ten
'rogues" who have derailed the road map. They are going to be sacrificed in
the name of the Chosen Ones. How could a twenty-year old girl be deemed to be
the single soul that has "stained" all that America represents?
As elementary school teachers, we now have to rethink the exercise we had
planned with the kids: writing letters of support – personal, not political
support – for soldiers we know sent to Iraq. It took awhile to embrace
this activity: as fervent opponents of the war, and since Julia is as an African
immigrant whose country was among the dozens plundered by the soldiers of the
British Empire, we had little sympathy for those on the front lines of imperial
conquest. When we talk to students about the horrors of war, we introduce them
to the side most Americans never see: civilians always feel the brunt of war.
Julia would wax nostalgic (if you can call it that) about her experiences of
civil war back home, running from place to place, hiding by day and returning
home at night. She talked of the disruption of daily life, cutting off access to
food and medicine and hospitals, clean water – the real killers of war. We
didn't think to include the section on torture, humiliation, and sexual assault.
But one of us is a Black woman in the US, and the pieces of this geopolitical
puzzle necessarily fit together differently. Although we may shelve the
letter-writing activity for the time being, we still have to remind ourselves
that these are young people, like trained dogs meant to sniff out drugs in
someone's carry-on. They are taught and trained like the NYC cops who herded us
like cattle into pens last February 15, or like prison guards (some of them
are). We bristle at first when Charlie Rangell proposes the draft, until we
realize that what he is implying is that, as soon as the war hits home for the
majority population, when it is their own kids choosing the army just to avoid
jail or WalMart, or just to be able to go to college, the war will end the next
day. Charles Ogletree pointed out, in the aftermath of the Michigan decision,
that a society whose army is all brown and whose law schools are all white is
one heading for serious trouble.
The fraud of a classless American society shudders beneath the weight of the
truth, its façade
shattered by the Navy ads promising teenagers escape from dipshit little towns
just like the one Lynndie England came from. Suicide rates are phenomenal among
soldiers in Iraq, so why not expect this? Sick products of a sick system, those
who do the dirty work for empire will be sent to bursting jails to be overseen
by some of their former colleagues. Meanwhile, the architects of the terror may
(though probably not) lose some of their government pensions. Like the song
says, "You know it's funny when it rains it pours, they got money for wars
but can't feed the poor." What we need to ask is, will the real men get up?
I know we're fed up.
This article was first published by JUST Response on May 12 2004. Daniel
lives and writes in Salem, Massachusetts, USA, with his wife, Julia
Nambalirwa-Lugudde. Together they run The
Greenhouse School. A
writer, singer, linguist and activist, Welch has appeared on radio and is available
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