Paul Jamieson: <email@example.com>
April 3 2004 "ICH" — The Fallujah Massacre should stand as the turning point in the illegal US occupation of Iraq.
But it won’t. And here’s why.
As we live out our lives in the rich West we are shielded from the truth. The true brutality that exists on a global scale to maintain our ridiculously high standard of living.
One thing that grows from our wealth is the liberal attitude that it is essentially wrong to enjoy such riches at the expense of so many who have nothing. I posit that it may be too late to be having second thoughts.
Our Western concepts of good and evil, right and wrong, are only applied within our borders. Outside, in the real world, the gloves are off, and morality, ethics, and basic principles of justice and fair play simply don’t exist. The lies that are told to us by our leaders maintain the illusions that they serve the greater good. As if "good" is some quantifiable resource that can be measured and weighed.
In order to do despicable things to other humans, other lands, other species, it is necessary to use language that defines the other as less than us. We must maintain our sense of superiority. As Joseph Campbell noted in reference to the extermination of the buffalo, to the aborigines of the West the buffalo was referred to as “thou”, to the American settlers though, the buffalo was referred to as “it”. It is an essential realigning of the hierarchical mindset. Where does one see oneself in regard to the world? As a part of the world, or apart from the world?
The US invasion of Iraq has nothing to do with any of the stated objectives: democracy, freedom, weapons of mass destruction. We know though that these lies will go into the history books and encyclopaedias to inform future generations. These are the lies that cement the past, and affirm our essential goodness. Otherwise, how could we live with ourselves knowing we have behaved in such a psychotic and despicable manner? That we are products of such a past?
The Vietnam War is not seen as a war of extermination. The three million Vietnamese who died in the American holocaust aren’t mentioned. As Stanley Kubrick noted in Full Metal Jacket, “We’ll let the gooks play the Indians.”
The aboriginal or indigenous peoples of North America are not Indians. They are not from India. Columbus might have thought he was in India, but that was all a long time ago. It is convenient for us in North America to define the aboriginal peoples as something other than who they are. The legal occupants of this land.
That raises the question, “Whose rules apply?” The obvious answer is, “Whoever has the most firepower.” Absolutely. Strength rules. We see that with children in the schoolyard, and while we may see it as “bossiness” in little kids, later in life it will be praised as “Leadership material.”
Dominate your enemy, and then make your enemy play by your rules. And that is what we saw this week after the Fallujah Massacre. General Kimmitt and Dan Senor made the brave statements that the US would “pacify” Fallujah.
The essential illegality of the American presence is never questioned. To accept that the Fallujah Massacre was an acceptable response by an occupied peoples resisting occupation by a foreign invader will never be mentioned. Instead the Fallujah Massacre is framed as a despicable act, a crime against Islam, and so on.
Any definition other than the unacceptable truth.
As a sidebar, when American soldiers are brought up on charges of torturing and brutalising Iraqis held in detention, is their Christianity brought up as an instrument for shaming?
American history is of course founded on the principle of “ethnic cleansing as right.”
The total extermination of the aboriginal peoples was left undone in a physical sense, but was completed in the minds of White America through the use of popular media.
The generation of soldiers who slaughtered millions in Vietnam had spent their youth wearing Davy Crockett hats and playing “Cowboys and Indians” in the school yard.
Notice how even the phrase “Cowboys and Indians” is an attempt to define the roles ascribed to the victor and the vanquished. The term “cowboy” refers to an occupation or trade. It is not defined by ethnicity, or religion, or citizenship. The cowboy is someone who is just trying to do his job. The title “Indian” is a racist term that immediately denies the aboriginal peoples any identity with their land, their culture, and their history. The Indian is defined in the popular culture as a brutal savage who takes scalps and deflowers white women and doesn’t have a job title.
So, in “Cowboys and Indians” we have a confrontational posture between the hard working class cowboy, and the stateless invisible Indian.
What if the phrase “Cowboys and Indians” was rephrased as “Invaders and Americans.”
In the Occupation of Palestine we see another redefining of reality. The Israelis are painted as heroic kibbutzim struggling to make the desert bloom, while constantly under attack by mobs of shrieking Arabs, or worse, blown up by cowardly suicide bombers.
Again, the defining of the oppositional structure is a ruse. “Arab and Israeli”. The Arab is just an Arab. Whatever that is. An Israeli obviously belongs to the State of Israel. Again there is this supposition of right versus pretence.
The fact remains that for thousands of years before the tribes of Israel came to Palestine, and certainly after the Romans dispersed the Jews, there have been peoples other than Jews living in Palestine. The violence between the Palestinians and the European Colonists came about because of the racist nationalistic nature of Zionism.
The United States illegal invasion of Iraq remains. Why haven’t George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney been indicted? Why doesn’t it matter if John Kerry is elected?