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.
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."
not be naive: 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."
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
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 dope.
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
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?
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
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.
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.
2004 Julia Nambalirwa-Lugudde and Daniel Patrick
Posted: May 19, 2004