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Views in brief

April 14, 2006 | Page 8

Apologist for imperialism
A is for anarchism

An Iraqi voice against the occupation

DR. RASHAD Zidan, an Iraqi pharmacist and activist for women's and orphans' lives and education, spoke in Rock Hill, S.C., recently as part of a month-long speaking tour. Zidan worked as a hospital pharmacist in Baghdad and opened her own pharmacy in 1993. Since the invasion in 2003, however, she has devoted her life to the Women and Knowledge Society, an organization that helps women and orphans in Baghdad, Abu Ghraib, Falluja and soon, Samarra.

Zidan put a genuinely human face on Iraqis and Muslims who, according to Bush, are conducting a "holy war" against freedom-loving Americans and the military's "humanitarian" bombs and bullets.

In light of the surge in Islamaphobia over racist cartoons and the Dubai ports deal, her talk couldn't have been more timely. Zidan condemned the U.S. government for its hypocrisy in bringing "freedom" and "democracy" while most Iraqis are without electricity, clean water and access to food and medical supplies. She demolished all the lies put forth by the U.S. about "weapons of mass destruction" and an al-Qaeda alliance with Iraq .

She spoke of the effects of depleted uranium and white phosphorous used in the attack on Falluja. One-third of infants born in one Baghdad hospital today are born with serious defects from depleted uranium. Zidan highlighted the case of her sister, who gave birth to a baby with a tumor on its spine. The baby only lived a couple of days.

She described life in Iraq today in comparison to life in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, drawing the conclusion that life was much better under a dictator than under U.S. occupation. She spoke of civil war in Iraq and how it has been fueled by the U.S. government.

Zidan had the heart and humanity to tell everybody in the room that we are all human beings, and that we need to reject the false boundaries that politicians and those who benefit from occupation put up in order to divide us. She even took the time to mention the fact that here in the United States, people are suffering from poverty, a lack of health care and a criminal response to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Being a mother of four children, Zidan wants the American people to know that the Iraqi people do not hate them. She said that she wants the American people to know what it is like to send your kids off to school not knowing if they'll come back at the end of the day.

Zidan is asking us to do whatever it takes to end the criminal occupation of her country, and made it plain that a timetable for withdrawal simply means more death and destruction--on top of the hundreds of thousands of innocent people who have already died.
She believes that the American people, as part of the human community, need to stand in solidarity with Iraqis in putting a stop to the brutal war that they have suffered under for 15 years.
Greg Love and Meghan Forgach, Greensboro, N.C.

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Apologist for imperialism

ON MARCH 1, Irshad Manji, a Muslim lesbian, spoke at the Multicultural Lecture Series at the College of New Jersey.

Manji gets attention from the likes of Fox and Oprah because she is the media's favorite Muslim apologist for imperialism. Manji is glad to apologize: lectures and book sales outpace her low-level position at a Toronto television station.

When asked, "Do you support the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan?" by a member of the International Socialist Organization, Manji resorted to red-baiting, asking if the speaker would respond to women who wanted U.S. occupiers in Afghanistan with some "convenient neo-marxist idea of false consciousness." "You have nothing to say," she added. She refused to discuss Iraq.

Manji knows she cannot maintain her low-level celebrity without apologizing for imperialism and attacking those who see this weakness in her politics. Manji says a person can reconcile homosexuality with Islam through text in the Koran which argues Allah chooses who you are, including whether you are gay.

I said I think many people in the gay movement would be troubled by this "reconciliation" because it indicates a choice to be gay would be a wrong choice or a lesser choice. After asking me to repeat the question and then stalling, Manji said she was not troubled by this concern, and added, "I accept the possibility that God might reject my same-sex relationship." She then said, "I don't know any gay people who have the bravery to question that what they do may be wrong."

One of the strongest oppressors of the gay movement has been the self-loathing gay people endure as outsiders in a hostile society, and I single out this vile quote from the many things about Irshad Manji which trouble and offend me.
Anthony Milici, Ewing, N.J.

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A is for anarchism

V FOR Vendetta is a refreshingly radical mainstream film, particularly in its spirited critique of our current government's scapegoating of gays and lesbians. However, precisely because it pitches itself as a political parable, we need to be clear about our political differences with it--something I'm not sure Amy Muldoon's review did ("R is for Revolution," March 31).

Although watered down from the original graphic novel, the film remains at its core thoroughly anarchist. Typical of anarchist activists, V pictures resistance in terms of acts of isolated terrorist violence that shock the complacent masses into action. The film ends with a seemingly magical mass action, in which the people somehow spontaneously organize themselves to overthrow the totalitarian state.

Aside from V's apparently random attempt to recruit Evey, the hard, day-to-day effort of organizing a mass movement that could make this "general strike" happen is completely elided. As is any hint of having to take power to defend the gains of the movement from reactionary forces, echoing the most discredited anarchist clichés.

There's a reason why such isolated heroics are amenable to Hollywood, since anarchist politics are politics cut off from any relation to political reality. We should use the film as an excuse to talk to people, without being confused by it.
Ben Davis, New York City

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