a depraved indifference to homo sapiens as a species,
the United States last week oversaw the erasure of the evidence
of 5,000 years of human civilization - a crime from which
humanity cannot recover. Although certainly not their
final act of barbarism, the burning of the Baghdad Museum
and the Iraqi National Library under the armed auspices of
the U.S. military is an offense to human consciousness that
no temporal tribunal can ever be empowered to forgive, and
that history will never forget.
worlds are clashing. One is real, observable by normal human
beings. The other exists in the minds of the Bush Pirates
and a majority of their home population. In the delusional
world - which has no substantive existence but is manifested
in virtual form by the Bushmedia - civilization dashed into
Baghdad on the treads of U.S. tanks to the near-universal
acclaim of the citizenry. In ecstatic jubilation, the populace
rose up and devoured the symbols of past oppression - that
is, everything in sight that might possibly be of value. In
the Pirate's worldview, the burning of Baghdad's historical
repositories, the looting of its hospitals, and the utter
destruction of civil infrastructure, is a cleansing
can understand the pent-up feelings that can result from decades
of repression," said Donald Rumsfeld, smiling like a
serpent and still drunk from the previous day's toppling of
Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad. "They're free. And
free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and
do bad things."
that moment, and in the sense of a "black," gallows
humor to which African Americans are most receptive, Rumsfeld
was howlingly, obscenely hilarious - and the distance separating
him from sane humanity was never greater. If there is one
social phenomenon with which African Americans have a collective
body of experience, it is looting and rioting. Scarcely a
decade ago, our memory-reservoirs on the subject were replenished
in circles of fire spreading outward from South-Central Los
Angeles. Had we known then that these acts of destruction,
puny compared to the evisceration of Baghdad, were in fact
behaviors of "free people [who] are free to make mistakes
and do bad things," and therefore sanctioned by the ruling
elite, we would have looted much further and longer and with
a greater sense of righteous purpose.
there is the tricky matter of timing when considering Los
Angeles 1992 and Baghdad, 2003.
logic becomes a revelation. The mobs of Baghdad, each arsonist
and looter, are collective victims of 35 years of oppression
by Saddam's political party and personal clique. (Damn, that's
not very long, from a Black perspective, but we're getting
the rhythm of this reasoning.) The looters, who in their zeal
have killed shop owners, medical personnel and others unwilling
to contribute to the "liberation" festivities, are
justified because they are happy at the political turn
of events. This is a joyous riot, violence in solidarity with
U.S. soldiers and Marines and their commander-in-chief. Now
we understand why Rumsfeld can't keep from smiling, just thinking
about all that joy.
of years of oppression without many events to celebrate about
have evidently numbed Black American sensibilities to the
etiquette and proprieties of looting. Apparently, we have
been engaging in the practice at the wrong time (colored
people's) and for the wrong reasons, thus inviting upon
our foolish heads the penalties of summary execution and long
the mists part, and all becomes clear. Thanks to the revelatory
logic of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, White House spokesman
Ari Fleischer ("It's a reaction to oppression"),
and Secretary of State Colin Powell ("I think it has
to be understood in the context of people who have been oppressed
and are reacting to their oppression"), Black Americans
may now intelligently plan their next riot. It must coincide
with a happy occasion. If by some miracle George Bush is defeated
in November, 2004, we will wreck the joint and, this time,
not a single building or institution of value will be left
intact. Churches will empty immediately into the streets in
righteous plunder, so uncontainable will be our joy! The sick
and infirm will trash their own wheel chairs and intravenous
tubes in rapturous celebration of Bush's demise. Two million
inmates will burn the prisons down around themselves, forgetting
to first unlock the place - Oh Happy Day! After the subways
of New York have been stripped of wiring, the Black masses
will gather in Harlem, where crowds will dance deliriously
as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture goes
up in flames, its new Malcolm X museum section reduced to
ashes. Sweet victory!
will call it the Great-Right-Time-Place-and Reason Riot. Rumsfeld,
Fleischer and Powell will, of course, appreciate the logic
of events as they hitchhike their ways home from burnt out
Washington, D.C. They will understand the "context"
of our actions, and agree that even a brief respite from nearly
400 years of oppression demands a suitable orgy of celebratory
Bush men are mad, insanely believing that world hegemony is
within reach, an assessment that can only exist for more than
a nanosecond in a perceptual vacuum from which most of reality
has been removed. To learn anything of the real world beyond
must be true based on a general understanding of human
behavior (for example, the knowledge that people do not enjoy
being bombed or bossed around by 22-year-old foreigners),
we are forced to turn to non-corporate, largely non-American
sources. The Bush/media have devolved into vectors of insanity,
a positively dangerous influence on an already deformed white
have chosen this April 13 report
from Robert Fisk, of The Independent (UK) as an example
of how a human being reacts to the destruction of 150,000
priceless pieces of our common patrimony at the Baghdad Museum.
How could they do this? Why, when the city was already burning,
when anarchy had been let loose and less than three months
after US archaeologists and Pentagon officials met to discuss
the country's treasures and put the Baghdad Archaeological
Museum on a military data-base did the Americans allow the
mobs to destroy the priceless heritage of ancient Mesopotamia?
And all this happened while US Secretary of Defense, Donald
Rumsfeld, was sneering at the press for claiming that anarchy
had broken out in Baghdad.
unrelated to Pentagon handouts or the conditions of American
troops appear as if by mistake on the electronic Bushmedia.
Some facts are unavoidable. The press saw anarchy outside
their high-rise hotel windows, and could not help but note
it. They observed that the U.S. cordon of security stretched
only a few blocks, and that even this enclave was unsafe.
Their circumscribed ventures by car revealed that U.S. soldiers
guarded only two buildings: the Oil Ministry and the Ministry
of the Interior, a source of files on the citizenry.
the irrelevant chatter, a CNN voice reported, on April 15,
""What was left of one of the most important museums
in the world remains unprotected." The United Nations
had already called an emergency meeting of world anthropology
experts to attempt to salvage what was left of human history,
while the occupying power did nothing. The Bush men are guilty
of depraved indifference to the human species. Clearly, they
perceive no direct connection between themselves and ancient
the Americans have watched The Louvre burn, along with all
the public ministries vital to the people of Paris and the
French nation? We do not know, although it is a question that
some Frenchmen must wonder about. What we do know is that
the Bush men's war for oil, for dollar supremacy and for world
hegemony is being waged by Pirates in the only way that an
American supermajority will allow - as a race war.
Nothing of value could possibly have been stored in an Arab
civilized world, which resides in peoples, not governments,
will never forgive the despoilers of Baghdad. The world will
not blame the nameless looters from among a people still on
the receiving end of shock and awe. Civilization recoils in
disgust from the Bush men and - by extension and logical implication
- American society. Burning Baghdad and lost human history
herald the beginning of the American occupation of Iraq, and
the definitive end of any illusions that the world may have
held about the fitness of the U.S. as a global citizen - much
less, master of the planet. These are the important facts
of the past week, the perceptions that will be acted upon
by Iraqis, Arabs, Muslims, and all other peoples not afflicted
with peculiar American delusions. History makes itself felt,
whether CNN covers it or not.
British war correspondent John Pilger sees what the world
sees - and what U.S. reporters cannot help but see although
seldom report, billeted as they are with the international
press at the Palestine Hotel. U.S. behavior in Baghdad is
like American behavior, everywhere, writes Pilger, in a Znet
is what the Americans do, and no one will say so, even when
they are murdering journalists. They bring to this one-sided
attack on a weak and mostly defenseless people the same
racist, homicidal intent I witnessed in Vietnam, where they
had a whole program of murder called Operation Phoenix.
This runs through all their foreign wars, as it does through
their own divided society. Take your pick of the current
onslaught. Last weekend, a column of their tanks swept heroically
into Baghdad and out again. They murdered people along the
They blew off the limbs of women and the
scalps of children. Hear their voices on the unedited and
unbroadcast videotape: "We shot the shit out of it."
Their victims overwhelm the morgues and hospitals - hospitals
already denuded of drugs and painkillers by America's deliberate
withholding of $5.4bn in humanitarian goods, approved by
the Security Council and paid for by Iraq....
one disputes the grim, totalitarian nature of the regime;
but Saddam Hussein was careful to use the oil wealth to
create a modern secular society and a large and prosperous
middle class. Iraq was the only Arab country with a 90 per
cent clean water supply and with free education. All this
was smashed by the Anglo-American embargo. When the embargo
was imposed in 1990, the Iraqi civil service organized a
food distribution system that the UN's Food and Agriculture
Organization described as "a model of efficiency...
undoubtedly saving Iraq from famine". That, too, was
smashed when the invasion was launched.
are facts known to every Iraqi and to the people of the Arab
"street" - facts that will shape their reaction
to the American occupation.
Tuesday, as many as 300 Iraqis were shouting "Go home
Yankee" in the square where embedded media had feasted
all day on Iraqi abuse of Saddam Hussein's statue, the previous
Thursday. The anti-occupation demonstrations were begun over
the weekend, by retired Iraqi police officers, summoned to
the secure area to assist in restoring order. Rattled at the
effrontery of the middle-aged crowd, a Black GI strode forward,
his rifle ready. "We're here for your fuckin' freedom,
so quiet down!"
the northern city of Mosul, Iraq's third largest, American
troops fired on a crowd that had come out to hear the region's
American-appointed governor. According to Al
at the city hospital said that many were injured in the
firing. "There are perhaps 100 wounded besides the
10 or 12 dead," said Dr Ayad al-Ramadhani of the city
said that the US troops had opened fire after the crowd
that had gathered to listen to the governor, Mashaan al-Juburi
in front of his office in one of the city square's turned
hostile to him in the middle of his pro-US speech.
at the city hospital recounted being told by wounded patients
that the new governor was exhorting people to cooperate
with the US when chaos broke out. The crowd called him a
liar and insisted that he end his speech. When he continued
with his speech, the angry crowd pelted stones and menacingly
among the wounded alleged that the besieged governor had
asked the US troops to open fire.
Agence France Presse reported substantially the same facts.
American media led their stories with U.S. claims that the
troops had been fired upon.
the American media is apparently not docile enough to satisfy
the military. CNN
found its own discomfort to be a subject worth reporting:
of U.S. Marines looked "for unauthorized weapons"
and people "not friendly to the United States"
in a search Tuesday at a Baghdad hotel that is a home base
for many journalists, a military source told CNN's Michael
Palestine Hotel houses about 2,000 international journalists
who are covering the war. It has been the site of two firefights.
were made, but information on the number and nationalities
of those detained was not immediately available. Sources
at the hotel said the Marines searched at least the ninth
and 17th floors. "This operation was to look for people
who are not friendly to the United States," the source
said. "Our intelligence is that there may be such people
staying in the Palestine Hotel."
U.S. attack on the hotel last week killed two journalists.
when abused by the military, the Bushmedia continue to toe
the line because they are also delusional Americans who
cannot fathom their surroundings.
fatalities higher than expected
study by the University of Maryland's Center for Research
on Military Organization found 19.4 percent of invasion combat
fatalities were African American, "which will be the
highest cost African Americans have paid in any of America's
wars if the trend continues." According to the Seattle-Intelligencer:
isn't the result of minorities being assigned to dangerous
duty in front-line units. Elite combat troops such as Special
Forces units and the Green Berets are disproportionately
white, military experts said. The U.S. Army's dash to Baghdad
forced supply convoys occasionally to traverse enemy-held
territory in southern and central Iraq, leaving minority
troops assigned to vulnerable logistical units.
opened ourselves up to this by driving forward, leaving
long logistical supply lines that must travel territory
that we do not militarily control," said David Segal,
director of the University of Maryland's Center for Research
on Military Organization. "But our combat doctrine
is one of deep intrusion after all, to go after the command-and-control
centers of our enemies."
study was based on an analysis of the 105 fatalities identified
by the Defense Department as deaths related to the war as
of April 10. Scripps Howard was able to determine the race
of 98 of these, of whom 19 were African American.
was not aware of this and am surprised by it," said
Julian Bond, national chairman of the NAACP. "I knew
that black soldiers were concentrated in the non-combat
positions of the military, which makes this all the more
surprising. But clearly, these support troops were subjected
to battle conditions unexpectedly."
will be no front lines in the occupation, which will require
far more manpower on the ground
than the invasion. (Alternatively, the occupation will fall
apart more quickly.) Therefore, it is to be expected that
casualties among Black men and women (who make up more than
half of all females in the Army) will be around 22 percent,
their proportion of the combined services.
decades ago, Malcolm X had this to say about Black soldiers:
you can tell them to sic 'em and he bites the Japanese.
You tell him to sic'em and he'll bite anybody you say. He
would go to Korea and be the bravest man on earth and the
best soldier you ever had. But he'd come right back here
in Mississippi and see a cracker coming in the door to rape
his mother and he'd sit there in the corner with his knees
knocking. Why? You weren't there to say sic 'em, he won't
bite anybody unless you say sic 'em.
Philly Bomber's son makes good
made those remarks before the huge influx of Blacks into the
Vietnam-era Army and the explosion of the Black Power movement.
However, his words might well apply to that long, tall Black
Brigadier General familiar to TV war watchers. Forty-four
year old Gen. Vincent Brooks, a Pentagon press briefer in
Qatar, is the son of retired General Leo Brooks, city manager
of Philadelphia when police bombed a house in West Philadelphia,
burning to death 11 Black men, women and children.
elder Brooks is credited with being Black Mayor Wilson Goode's
right-hand action-man in the conflict between the city and
MOVE, the activist organization the city sought to evict from
the neighborhood in May 1985. The police bomb, dropped from
a helicopter, also destroyed the entire block of 61 homes.
"As Mayor of this city I accept full and total responsibility,"
Mayor Goode told the New
York Times. "There was no way to avoid it. No way
to extract ourselves from that situation except by armed confrontation."
Brooks resigned six weeks later to "spend more time"
with his family in Alexandria, Virginia. A recent article
in the Washington
Times quotes son Vincent lauding another one of his role
models. "Colin Powell is not secretary of state because
he's black. He's there because of what he can offer and that's
the way we were raised to think." General Brooks' brother,
Leo A. Brooks Jr., is also a general.
for AIDS, not war
indifference to human life, the equivalent of a murder charge
under criminal law, is public policy for the Bush men and
the ethical guide of their corporate media. More than 70 organizations
released a statement, Monday, demanding ""Money
for AIDS, Not for War!"
Action executive director Salih Booker described the action
as "both a rejection of U.S. aggression in the Persian
Gulf and an affirmation of the real priority that we should
be addressing - the global AIDS crisis."
racism has allowed the loss of so many lives to AIDS,"
said the 78
signatories to the letter.
is the greatest global threat to human security that exists
today. It is more deadly than terrorism or the alleged existence
of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. AIDS has already
cost 25 million lives worldwide. In Africa, ground zero
of the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, whole communities are being
wiped out and the future of the entire continent is at risk.
Around the world, HIV infection rates continue to rise at
alarming rates. In the U.S., the toll from AIDS is mounting,
particularly among communities of color.
is a clear and present danger to all of humanity. That it
is not the top priority of the U.S. government highlights
just how misguided U.S. priorities are. This year, while
the U.S. focuses on potential threats in Iraq and possible
terrorist attacks at home, it is certain that AIDS will
kill more than 3 million people globally, most of these
jobs on horizon
in the glow of destruction, Bush continues his relentless
assault on the economy and civil infrastructure of the United
States, demanding $550 billion in tax cuts for the rich with
the same bait-and-switch claim that jobs will somehow emerge
from the process. Yet the people who are expected to create
these jobs see nothing of the kind on the horizon.
got a pretty weak economy," said John
T. Dillon, the chairman of the Business Roundtable. "We
all feel great about the war," he added, in an interview
with the New York Times.
are using less than 80 percent of their productive capacity,
Mr. Dillon said, and they will not begin investing in new
equipment or hiring more workers until demand increases.
Many executives believe that their companies are still suffering
through the overhang of the 1990's boom
think there will be a short-term improvement as inventories
are rebuilt," he said. "Inventories have been
held at very, very low levels because of all of the uncertainty
in the world. But frankly the fundamentals we're talking
about here are largely not war-related."
means that American industry already has more plant capacity
than it can use - but thanks for the tax breaks. Dillon speaks
for 120 of the nation's top CEOs.
was never a doubt that a nation with a $300 billion yearly
war budget would quickly destroy the organized military of
a country whose entire gross domestic product was less than
$60 billion (CIA estimate, 1999). In the Iraqi occupation
and the invasions that follow, the Pirates will ravage the
world order and further degrade the domestic economy - all
for the profits of a Pirate class that doesn't even have John
Dillon's boys' interests in mind.
of the best accounts of Bush's take-no-prisoners domestic
strategy comes from Dr. David Hilfiker. His, "Bringing
the War Back Home: The stealth assault against the poor,"
is available on The Nation Institute's daily service, TomDispatch.
our minds have been absorbed by the war on terrorism and
the war in Iraq, the President has been waging preemptive
assaults on the states, disarming them so that they will
ultimately be incapable of responding even to the minimal
needs of those children and the elderly. The current attacks
on Medicaid--one of the few programs for the poor currently
intact--are early bombing runs softening up the target,
but if Medicaid becomes a capped block grant, it will be
war on the poor is primarily one of attrition. A full frontal
assault on women and children would be unseemly, but taking
their defenses out one at a time does not seem to raise
objections back on the home front. So childcare, public
education, school lunches, the Earned Income Tax Credit,
even Head Start are besieged.
role of the media in this war has largely been to remain
silent. There are no embedded reporters in the assault on
the poor and virtually no analysis. Perhaps it is because
the exciting battles in the war are largely over.
us not fool ourselves. The health of a society can be judged
by how it cares for its poor. A nation that declares war
on its poor is deathly ill.