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It may be assumed that Iraqis are acutely aware of the classical folklore about the proverbial camel and the Arab.  The lore has it that a camel seeking refuge from the harsh elements in the desert solicited some space from the cameleer who was happily ensconced in the tent, just enough space to accommodate the camel’s head.  The Arab in his infinite and renowned generosity, agreed.  Then came the camel’s next request, to move only his forelimbs to further protect them from the inclement weather outside.  Finally the camel thrust his entire torso into the tent, displacing the Arab who found himself in an unlikely reversal of roles – of landlord turned prospective tenant, left pleading with the new occupant for refuge in the cameleer’s own tent.  Now physically, a camel handler is no match for a determined camel.  Raw strength is the determinant here, no matter how charming the pleas for sanctuary that initially let the camel sneak in.  The camel invaded, occupied and dictated terms.  The original resident was dispossessed, weakened and left with few choices beyond those presented by the occupier – for the time being. 

So it is that racist tactics have much in common with dromedary strategies.  You are either with them or against them, no matter what – either inside or outside the tent, all in black and white.  In the end, racist stratagems attempt to see to it that the tent becomes wholly appropriated and, if any negotiations are to ensue, they shall proceed on the occupier’s terms, case closed.  The core subject matter – appropriating tents – is shrewdly kept outside the sphere of public discourse. Instead, we hear eloquent theses on the virtues of private property – rationales concocted to protect the booty and consolidate the dispossession.  The camel becomes both landlord and moral arbiter, even as it acts outside the parameters of human norms and values.

Despite the brief victory of brawn over brains, the camel lacks an understanding of human resilience and the depth of commitment to the justice of human causes, in all their diversity – the world that lives in the Arab’s tent.  It matters little that the camel insists on the noblest of intentions in justifying the occupation.  In the end, camels are incapable of perceptions that challenge or exceed their dromedary confines. They are too intoxicated with raw power to be inconvenienced by human reasoning. 

Since camels have no business living in tents, all such tales must end with the camel back in the sand, where he belongs. The cameleer will find a way to reclaim his domain. That’s the human order of things.

In the imperial monologue, all human problems that collectively define diversity as integral to the human condition are perceived as bereft of historical and cultural roots and must be subsumed by racist fabrications of human aspirations.  All cultures, regardless of their own rich heritages, are subordinated to racist whims of the moment via instant analyses and coercive reinvention. Dedicated scholars bearing grave countenances are tirelessly standing by to expound on subjects they know little to nothing about.  Their voices add to the boisterous choruses of media and official lies.  A final and deeply familiar message emerges: it is our way or the highway.  And a lesson is supposed to be gathered from all this by those untutored in the White man’s noble ways – democracy by coercion and brute force.  En route, a characteristic distortion and mutilation of history and facts is undertaken, blurring distinctions between fantasy and reality.  Even the solemn proclamations of yesterday can be subjected to absolute reversal today and the new versions accorded the weight of veritable truths.  The racist attempts to project a divine omnipotence, although one-dimensional in scope.  Brute and naked power lends wayward ignorance the face of knowledge and wisdom with a supporting cast of a gullible public cheerfully abetting and succumbing to history’s truly monumental and recurring frauds – those of racism and imperial grandeur.  Hence, not unlike the single-minded camel, a racist failure to see people’s aspirations in human as opposed to racist terms has been the persistent theme of racism, of which imperialism remains its outstanding metaphor.

The end of whose history?

A dazzling array of colonizing strategies has been articulated to explain away subjugation of the non-white world.  We are told of the uniqueness of the colonial history of India, as distinct from that of Africa; that the French and the Portuguese versions differed from that of the British; and that the invasion of Australia was of a dissimilar category.  Canadians are seen as a gentler species of conquerors.  Narratives of dispossession and killing of the Native peoples of the Americas are projected in ways that romanticize genocide. Heroes emerge from among the cold-blooded killers, songs are composed in their praise to fabulate a history that is deployed as a weapon to terminate and bury all other histories.  Even if the beginnings of history should, coincidentally, be ascribed to others, its conclusion will remain categorically White. So that in proclaiming the “end of history,” it conveniently escaped Professor Francis Fukuyama’s astute mind that in fact the end of history equates with racist appropriation of the final word via crude power and intimidation, denying the other his or her own testimony on their own reality and destiny. 

This diversification of racist strategies is patently manifest in the current illegal occupation of Iraq.  We hear ludicrous explications of armed Iraqi resistance sprinkled with laughable phrases such as “the Sunni triangle” (implying that the Shias love being occupied and will have none of the oil), Saddam loyalists, foreign interference, etc.  However, this is unlikely to veer anyone away from the one stubborn fact about the Iraq war: it remains a racist criminal invasion totally heedless of civilized world opinion.

With habitually demented logic, President Bush – the unsolicited foreign invader – rails against “foreign” interference and “terrorist” attacks on US occupiers.  Having packaged this act of thuggery as “liberation,” this administration is on the verge of discovering that the idiotic ideology of White Supremacy and global hegemony will not wash with Iraqis, for whom the real war of liberation has only just begun.  This is the paramount reality, no matter how the issue is presented for nightly entertainment in American homes.

Similar lies were spun and racist versions of “democracy” promulgated to justify the US aggression in Vietnam, costing the lives of 2 million Vietnamese.  The criminals of that war run scot-free in our midst, while the maimed and chemically poisoned Vietnamese survivors present grizzly testimony to racism’s global rampage. As if to proclaim the end of law among humans, the US exempts itself from the norms of civilized practice and international jurisdiction for war crimes, coercing other countries to endorse outrageous claims of American exceptionalism.  The only sensible conclusion that can be drawn from this deadly series of con games is that the racist super power is in no mood to abandon its campaign of hate and sadism on people of color.

Nonsensical diversity

In South Africa, racist dispossession was called apartheid, its White practitioners regaled by US administrations as natural democrats, while their African victims were marked as “terrorists.”  Americans of African descent, having been subjected to descending categories of dehumanization and still struggling for an equitable share of the American dream, remain consigned to an embarrassing footnote to this country’s history. George Bush daily attempts to confer glamour on the various White imperial ventures aimed at denying the Other his humanity. Yet, atop such aggressions of Himalayan proportions, US opinion molders seek to drape a plastic covering of nonsensical “diversity.”

In essence, it is bigotry that lay at the heart of the imagined glory and majesty of a past constructed on the backs of colored folks. True diversity in fact lay in the pre-colonial histories and cultures of the colonized. But that was soon to be transformed into a common purpose by the colonized in urgently ridding themselves of the racist pestilence that had permeated their social fabric.  Iraq is no exception.

Viet Nam too had a generous dose of racist “liberation” and its peoples are still licking their wounds, many years later. Yet the American version of reality turns truth on its head, treating the world to the illogical and racist notion of a deeply traumatized America as a result of that unjust war, rather than the actuality of a horribly wounded Vietnam.

No mention is made in the US of the 2 million Vietnamese victims of wanton aggression.  Instead, the culprits continue to indulge themselves in their insatiable appetite for the blood and resources of other defenseless societies. The US public is infatuated and held spellbound by the high tech nature of its government’s aggressive exploits. They like the “show” – a fabrication obscuring the death and destruction visited on civilians, distorting distinctions between sci-fi and reality – and cheer the actors and their props with an unashamed glee that is only possible among dedicated racists. The suffering and pain of the victims of aggression are digitally deleted from the consciousness of an already numbed prime time audience.

Iraq provides yet another metaphor for imperial whims, as dangerous and as deadly as they come.  An important part of the racist colonizing spirit is to create and propagate a new, self-serving language and impose it on the colonized.  With the adoption of a new language utterly disconnected from reality, it is hoped that resistance to racist imperial machinations will weaken and crumble.  Yet history does not bear this out.  Indeed, the human saga tells us that quite opposite results can be expected: resistance and wars of liberation.  No amount of linguistic and semantic contortions can mask the grotesque racism that has distinguished these centuries-old imperial adventures. 

Iraq is yet another permutation of the tale of the camel once again underestimating human buoyancy and desire to assert their own version of freedom – a natural and inalienable right, requiring no help from racist do-gooders who would “guide” other people’s paths to freedom.  Before the sandstorm is over, the camel will be ejected from the tent.

Last month President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair entertained the US Congress with language that was utterly warped, substituting liberation for criminal aggression, coercion for democracy, to the acclaim of a corporate media whose journalistic functions are mutated beyond recognition.  So fawning are the American media, they grow to resemble the press of Banana Republics or pre-“liberation” Iraq.

In Iraq, itself, news censorship is in full swing, creating an information blackout that attempts to keep the world in the dark about the horrors of “liberation.” The contrast in the US media’s loud domestic cheerleading of the War President, and their eerie silence on non-American deaths on the ground in Iraq, should come as a surprise to no one.

Instinctive contempt

The insinuated moral imperative of “liberating” a people worn out by decades of tyranny is that their humanity and dignity would soon be on its way to recovery.  Included in this package are their heritage, cultural sensibilities and their freedoms.  But as the old adage has it, actions speak louder than words.  Not only are all of the above false as pertains to this invasion, the rampant greed imperative stood supreme among the invaders. Oil fields were secured at lightening speed, while greedy American CEOs anxiously scrambled for lucrative contracts, ostensibly for Iraq’s “reconstruction,” and naturally without Iraqi consent.  But the real destruction that requires this “reconstruction” was wreaked for over a decade by US sanctions, killing 50,000 children annually, according to UN estimates.  To this genocide, which prompted the resignation of three UN arms inspectors, Madeline Albright, Secretary of State under Bill Clinton responded:  “It will all have been worth it.”  Meanwhile, Iraq’s vast and immensely rich historical heritage – one that belongs to all of humanity – was left to the whims of looters.  This is a case of crude oil taking precedence over human heritage.  Where else would these priceless artifacts be found except in the homes of some rich Westerners, making their pile from other people’s history? 

This instinctive contempt for alien cultures typifies the encounter between colonizer and the colonized.  A renowned British historian, Trevor Roper once said that Africa is a dark continent and darkness is not a subject of history, implying that no meaningful history can be attributed to the dark races.  And if any magnificence should be encountered in their history, it should be sought in the libraries of the West, where its experts stand ready to explain the native to himself.  Colonialism in essence then equates with the robbery from the colonized of the sense of the collective self.  So this invasion of Iraq then adds up to more than addiction to oil:  it is utter disdain for the alienated Other and their perceived outlandish histories and cultures.  Consequently, any claims to the love of liberty as the declared motive for the invasion of Iraq must be strictly taken for what they represent – for your info and entertainment only, a bit like your daily horoscope.

Churchillian George

Next, it is currently fashionable to obscure intent, no matter how ghastly, with the language of political correctness.  The challenge then is to try to make sense of events as they unfold.  One is forced to filter out the lies that are emitted at a bewildering pace and focus on the actual exploits as they transpire in their digitalized splendor.  The trick, here, is to reverse translate what is presented, to arrive at a credible analysis from which some sense can be extracted.  Plainly, little sense can be made from studying noble statements by Thomas Jefferson on individual liberties, penned and pronounced while he owned slaves of African descent.  Clearly, those statements were aimed at Whites who were deemed more capable of appreciating individual liberties – all of which must have sounded pretty hollow and irrelevant for enslaved African Americans.  Presently, as Mr. Trent Lott will tell you, it is perfectly admissible to be a practicing racist, if you can keep your mouth shut, because the ghost of political correctness will come to haunt you and deny you your post as Speaker of the House.  The threat to one’s political fortunes therefore has much less to do with one’s actions and state of political being than with one’s public pronouncements.  Stated differently, a climate has been constructed where being a practicing racist is far less egregious than making public proclamations that define your identity as one.

In a similar vein, proclamations of that renowned British statesman, Winston Churchill, must be seen in the pre-correctness era and transported to present day realities to appreciate the nature of racist American foreign policy initiatives.  Churchill declared: “I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes…. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”  In fact present American foreign policy initiatives with British backing are an accurate reflection of these sentiments, considering the death and destruction they have wrought on peoples of Latin America, Africa and Asia. 

While such verbal violence is no longer fashionable or permissible in politically correct times, occasional Freudian slips will continue to be made.  Here is one by Mr. Blair, the British Prime Minister, in his recent address to the U.S. Congress: “The risk is that terrorism and states developing weapons of mass destruction come together.” Well, as far as is known, none have been found in Iraq and as to where they are truly located and who actually owns them, no expertise is required to identify them.  Using this logic then, if states developing WMDs are on their way to terrorism, those that have enough stockpiles of them to destroy the world several times over must be highly accomplished terrorists themselves.  As one Iraqi put it in the aftermath of the handling of the bodies of Saddam’s sons and the escalating resistance against occupation, “But the Americans are criminals and unbelievers. We got rid of one tyrant and we ended up with a bigger one.”

Another Iraqi, reacting to the killing of four unarmed countrymen, said (on public radio) that he had witnessed dogs being rescued on American TV that received better treatment than Iraqis.  My, oh my, are we in familiar territory or what? Perhaps political incorrectness might after all have some merit.

In search of fodder

Finally, Mr. Bush, in sheer desperation in the face of the Iraqi debacle and the growing resistance, now pleads for international participation to clean up his racist mess – while his business buddies gloat over oil. But unfortunately for him, the war is much too fresh in any thinking person’s mind for this utter nonsense to hold water.  Was it not that very international community that he paid scant regard to when indulging himself in his reckless and deadly games?  He is transparently in search of cannon fodder to be positioned between Iraqi resistance fighters and American occupiers.  Naturally, Bush will send his Uncle Tom Colin Powell to the United Nations once again, and apply the now familiar arm-twisting tactics – coercion and bribery – to recruit alternative targets from among peoples of color.

So while the battles that have been described by Mr. Bush as being formally over continue at a blazing pace, the job of leaving Iraq to the Iraqis will require a kind of statesmanship that this president simply is incapable of grasping.  And no one is accusing him of such capabilities.  His utmost, racist concern right now is to shield his White kith and kin from the wrath of the occupied using colored humans as shields, compliments of the United Nations. 

It is tempting to predict that this new form of digitalized imperial fantasizing and colonialism on the fast lane, will inspire a new form of resistance, one infused with the same spirit that the American racists so enthusiastically claim for themselves. The need for freedom is basic to all human beings and they will defend it regardless of the power and pretenses of the transgressor – even if that includes those that claim to have invented freedom itself.

Dr. Kweli Nzito is an Assistant Professor and Scientist at the University of Miami. His e-mail address is [email protected].

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