It is really difficult to look at the images of the murdered and suffering Iraqi civilians (see http://www.marchforjustice.com/id191.htm ), and at the pain of families of US soldiers who lost loved ones (as well covered in the mainstream media). In addition to our shock and awe, what is one to think and is there anyone to blame or should we just think of how do we get out of it?
Do we blame Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice who are so wedded to special interests and money (oil and military industries) that they maybe willing to sacrifice American, Iraqi, and Palestinian lives in quest for more power? If you have not noticed the killing of Palestinians continued unabated with 30 killed in the past week and dozens of homes demolished (all using our tax money). Do we blame the nine mega corporations owning most of our media and calling the shots on what we see or hear in America. Does this media keep the American public in the dark about what is really going on in Iraq and Palestine as we continue to alienate the whole world. Does this group (with special interest agenda) manage to regularly implant thought patterns that have little to do with reality but much to do with gaining support for policies of war mongering, domination, and civil rights violations.
The ACLU warned for months now of the continued erosion of civil liberties, detention of immigrants, no or unfair trials, no access to lawyers, and inhumane detention conditions (e.g. at Guantanamo Bay). We are reminded of what Pastor Martin Niemoller said regarding the Nazi reign: “First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me…and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Do we blame the Israeli apologists and racists around Bush (Perle, Wolfowitz, Abrams, Wurmser, Dov Zakheim and others) whose main interest has always been a strong domineering “Jewish state” keeping the native Palestinian where they are (refugees, displaced, occupied, and discriminated against). Or perhaps we should blame the Iraqi regime which has shown callous disregard for the interests of the Iraqi people and got into one blunder after another. Perhaps we should blame segments of the American public that was all too willing to be run like sheep or at least regularly lied to by “people of influence” in the media and the government. Was it not so obvious that this was intended to make us forget our deteriorating economic situation, the growing canyon between the rich and the poor, social injustice, and racism among many other ills we need to address?
Hermann Goerring, head of the Nazi propaganda efforts stated: “Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don’t want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” We should remember that the excuse given by the Nazis for attacking Poland was a “terrorist attack” (by a Jew) and thus the invasion was claimed intended to “protect lives” and “liberate people” and bring “security.” All sorts of atrocities are committed in the name of these supposed ideals.
Or perhaps we should blame the peace activists either for not presenting a clear alternative to the war or not working hard enough to stop it. Or perhaps we should blame world public opinion for being so naive as to think they can make a difference simply by protesting in the millions.
Perhaps if we had fostered democracy in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, and Egypt (all dependent on our government for survival), people would have believed us in saying we wanted democracy in the Middle East. I could keep going on but it is usually the job of future historians to dissect and try and understand the influences of actions and reactions in arriving where we have arrived at. Perhaps blame is shared among all the above. Perhaps it is irrelevant to assign blame. Perhaps one should be cynical of even trying to solve this quagmire that the US, egged on by Zionists is delving in. There is much to be pessimistic about. War criminals and terrorists are now leaders of states. And I am not merely talking about Iraq. Take Israel for example, many of its prime ministers were terrorists who intentionally killed civilians before the Israeli state was established on the ruins of the native Palestinian society (most are now refugees or displaced people ethnically cleansed over the past 55 years). Most are war criminals based on International humanitarian laws for continuing to kill thousands of civilians, demolish homes, execute people, and engage in the reprehensible tactic mildly referred to as “collective punishment” (which is essentially terrorism). The war criminal Henry Kissinger whose meticulous guidance of US foreign policy resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths. One is distressed to know that 500 people in this world own more wealth than one billion people and that the main exports for both Israel and the US now is weapons.
But in all this blame game and regurgitating bad news will help little. Perhaps each of us should stop and look deep in our own hearts for the dehumanizing that makes all this violence possible. Look for the greed and selfishness that prevents humans from caring for the other. Perhaps if we look hard enough, we could pledge to rededicate life to non-violence and to more altruism. First and foremost we must do no harm. Second, we must organize.
For us in the Arab and Muslim American Community under siege and in pain, this self-reflection is particularly difficult. But channeling energy in positive constructive work of getting involved in politics, media, organizing, and our communities is now not merely a duty but is a matter of life and death for this nation and perhaps the world at large. America is worth it and the world is worth it! If the depressing news make you question this, then look into the eyes of the Children. Go out and play with them. They will tell you. Then look again at these Iraqi victims at http://www.marchforjustice.com/id191.htm and then start a new program with your community to insure no more victims anywhere. Collectively, we can and must say enough is enough. South African activist & martyr, Stephen Biko stated “The greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” And thus an old saying popular in the civil rights movement in the 1960s goes “Free your mind and your ass will follow.”
(Dr. Mazin B. Qumsiyeh is Chair of the Media Committee, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition.)