Letter to the editor
April 18, 2003 | Page 4
How many Iraqis really are celebrating?
Dear Socialist Worker,
Just like during the Afghanistan war, the U.S. media is going through its own orgy of joy covering the celebrations of Iraqis welcoming their new occupying army. Bush and Rumsfeld must be pleased at how this private orchestra of propagandists requires very little conducting.
But although every major TV station and newspaper is playing the same note, there is plenty to suggest that something is out of tune. Such as when Steve Johnson wrote a piece in the Chicago Tribune titled "Powerful TV image obscures details." "Few of the American news outlets emphasized how small the crowd of Iraqis around the [toppled Hussein] statue really was," reported Johnson.
Or, when National Public Radio's [NPR] Anne Garrels reported from Baghdad on seeing Iraqis who despised Hussein's regime crying on the street in despair at watching their city destroyed and occupied by American troops.
"People were very dispirited, their pride was punctured, their honor was really hurt," Garrels said. "And they became very angry with Saddam Hussein. Certainly people were beginning to talk and say, you know the Republican Guards are a bunch of puffed-up whatevers. They got insignia and uniforms and they bossed us around, but when it comes to a real fight they don't do it." This hardly strikes me as a people that wanted the U.S. army to take over the city, but more as a people that wanted its army to put up a fight.
Given all the hot air about the Shia people of Iraq rising up against Hussein, it is very revealing that Shiites in Baghdad told Garrels that they were proud of the resistance their brethren had put up in Basra and contrasted it to the crumbling of the Republican Guards in Baghdad. Anyone without a contract at NBC, CNN or their likes may already have sniffed from where a more determined and genuinely popular resistance to the occupation will come.
By the way, I heard the report from Garrels on NPR on Wednesday, and by Thursday, you couldn't find any trace of Garrels' remarks about the Shiites on NPR's Web site. Maybe her contract is not as good after all.
Héctor Reyes, Chicago
Dear Socialist Worker,
Columbia University anthropology professor Nicholas De Genova has faced a vicious right-wing assault after calling for the defeat of the U.S. government in Iraq. Since making the comments at a March 26 teach-in against the war, De Genova has received more than 1,000 death threats. He has also has been the subject of a congressional letter demanding that the university fire him.
The hypocrisy of these attacks are obvious. While politicians have been cheering on our government's slaughter of the people of Iraq, De Genova has been vilified for asserting the right of Iraqis to defend their homes--and for suggesting that ordinary American soldiers should see their main enemy as the administration that sends them to die in Iraq.
Not all of De Genova's comments at the teach-in were valuable in terms of helping the antiwar movement understand how to respond to the right-wing attack on us. He could have explained himself better, in ways that would have helped other people to understand his arguments.
Still, the assault on De Genova is really a right-wing attempt to red-bait antiwar protesters, and to force us to prove that we, too, "support our troops." We need to stand up to these efforts to undermine our movement and refuse to accept the "support our troops" arguments that the right wing is using to attack De Genova.
Jonah Birch, New York City
Dear Socialist Worker,
Seventy-three-year-old Jerry Nothman would be the last person you would think to complain about the new Homeland Security department. Jerry, who moved to the U.S. from Germany more than 50 years ago and became a naturalized citizen, said the only subversive thing he ever did was to vote Republican.
Yet when he returned to the U.S. from a recent European visit, he detailed the most appalling treatment from Homeland Security agents. In an open letter to the INS in the Oregonian, Jerry said: "In the 50 years since I arrived in this country, I had managed to forget the early days of my childhood in Germany. What a rude awakening to find that the methods of interrogation of those days are alive and well, the only difference being that instead of being carried out by the Vaterland Sicherheitsdienst, it's now in the name of Homeland Security. What a coincidence!"
But Jerry was luckier than Mike (Maher) Hawash who is being detained in solitary confinement as a material witness after being arrested outside his Intel workplace in Hillsboro, Ore., on March 20. FBI agents in bulletproof vests and carrying M-16s then raided his home, waking his wife and three children.
No one knows why Mike is being detained, not even his attorneys, whom he was kept from for several days along with his family. Mike is an Arab American who has been a U.S. citizen for 14 years. David Fidanque, of the Oregon ACLU said: "If the Mafia were to do something like this, we would call it kidnapping, coercion and racketeering."
The only reason anyone can think of is that Mike and his wife gave money to the Global Relief Foundation, long before the FBI alleged that the charity had terrorist connections.
Civil rights in Oregon--and across the country--are under attack. We must fight all of these attacks on our rights. Indeed, freedom fries while Baghdad burns.
Paul Dean, Portland, Ore.