Thursday, January 18, 2007

Where Is The Outrage?

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t think ‘non-binding resolutions’ or ‘sense of the Congress’ expressions are going to get us out of Iraq; neither does Salon commentator Gary Kamiya, who asks “Where is The Outrage?”

Kamiya is profoundly skeptical about the Democrats ever cutting off funds for the war--- still spooked by the Conservatives’ strategy of tying the ‘soft on security’ can to their tails. A real anti-war movement, a thunderous presence in the streets, would support the radical move of cutting funds, but no such anti-war movement exists.

Although disapproval of Bush’s mismanagement of the
war is huge there is really no outrage at the suffering that war has caused. After all, there have ‘only’ been 3000 deaths and for no one is the suffering of the thousands of wounded a reality. When even the dead are just numbers, the wounded become only medical statistics.

Kamiya writes: “The fact is, except for that comparatively small number of Americans who have fought there, Iraq is just a name on a map. The deaths there, too, are unreal. And if by chance their reality becomes undeniable, they happen to other people.”

” American casualties have remained discreetly hidden from view. (To say nothing of the horrendous numbers of Iraqis who have been killed as the result of the war, which the U.S. government has callously avoided
tallying.) The Bush administration has tried to keep the dead and wounded out of sight, and the media, cowed by "taste" rules and patriotism, has mostly played along. The result is an abstract war, a play war, a dream war.”

During World War One it was the war poets such as Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, and (after the war) novelist Erich Maria Remarque, who raised our consciousness of the horror, making it explicit and terrible.

Iraq has produced a soldier poet of extraordinary talent, Brian Turner. Kamiya quotes him in the Salon article. It will break your heart.

In a poem titled "2000 lbs," Turner opens with a
description of a suicide bomber in Mosul's Ashur Square, who is watching in his rearview mirror for a convoy. He writes of two men, an Iraqi taxi driver named Sefwan and an American Guardsman named Sgt. Ledouix, who are also in Ashur Square.

A flight of gold, that's what Sefwan thinks
as he lights a Miami, draws in the smoke
and waits in his taxi at the traffic circle.
He thinks of summer 1974, lifting
pitchforks of grain high in the air,
the slow drift of it like the fall of Shatha's hair,
and although it was decades ago, he still loves her,
remembers her standing at the canebrake
where the buffalo cooled shoulder-deep in the water,
pleased with the orange cups of flowers he brought her,
and he regrets how much can go wrong in a life,
how easily the years slip by, light as grain, bright
as the street's concussion of metal, shrapnel
traveling at the speed of sound to open him up
in blood and shock, a man whose last thoughts
are of love and wreck
age, with no one there
to whisper him gone.

Sgt. Ledouix of the National Guard
speaks but cannot hear the words coming out,
and it's just as well his eardrums ruptured
because it lends the world a certain calm,
though the traffic circle is filled with people
running in panic, their legs a blur
like horses in a carousel, turning
and turning the way the tires spin
on the Humvee flipped to its side,
the gunner's hatch he was thrown from
a mystery to him now, a dark hole
in metal the color of sand, and if he could,
he would crawl back inside of it,
and though his fingertips scratch at the asphalt
he hasn't the strength to move:
shrapnel has torn into his ribcage
and he will bleed to death in minutes,
but he finds himself surrounded by a strange
beauty, the shine of light on the broken,
a woman's hand touching his face, tenderly
the way his wife might, amazed to find
a wedding ring on his crushed hand,
the bright gold sinking in flesh
going to bone.

The poem appears in a collection of Turner's poetry titled, 'Here, Bullet'

Read more about Turner here.


Liza said...

There is a lot of outrage out there. I, for one, have been so angry about the American invasion and occupation of Iraq for so long that it's getting hard to remember a time when I wasn't this outraged.

The corporate media has been actively complicit with the Bush Administration in "manufacturing consent" in America for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. And this has been across the spectrum from Fox News and conservative talk radio on the far right to the more ideologically balanced New York Times. Remember Judith Miller? With a few notable exceptions, the truth was in the independent media, and it still is.

I think we all agree that images of war have a major impact on people and that is what the Bush Administration and their coporate media cheerleaders have effectively kept from the American people. Yes, a picture can be worth a thousand words and it can also stand up to a thousand lies.

So, why have the voices of dissent not become organized into a major anti-war movement in the US? Well, one reason is that the corporate media has not given it much attention. The anti-war voices have been heard predominantly in the independent media and many people in this country still have very limited access to independent media. It is difficult to organize when the voices of dissent are constantly being drowned out, ridiculed, and attacked by those who have been trained to "manufacture consent" with propaganda, "spin", distortions of fact, deliberate omissions, "fake news", and that endless parade of pundits with flapping jaws and no information.

However, having said all of the above, I still do not understand why so many people supported the invasion of Iraq and still do. Everyone knows what bombs do to civilians, infrastructure, natural resources, animals, economies. Everyone has given some thought to what it would be like to die a violent death, or to be maimed, or to lose your family, your home, your livelihood, and have no future.

For whatever reasons, most Americans were unable to empathize with the Iraqis. For whatever reasons, we have failed to acknowledge their humanity. We have failed to recognize that most of them are just the same as most of us. They want to live, work, raise their children, and be left alone.

What a sad, dark, and evil chapter in our history. God help us.

Liza said...

Here's some more outrage for you. It's an open letter from James Jordan to Representative Giffords. I received this from the Sonora Progressives today and I think its an excellent letter. If you wish to sign the letter, send email to

Here's the text of the letter:

Dear Rep. Giffords,

On Martin Luther King Day, at Reid Park, and today, on
KUAZ, I heard you make the same assertion, that the US
military had gone into Iraq for the purpose of
"removing a horrible dictator", and that "our troops
performed heroically", but that we "then went in to
remove weapons of mass destruction", but there were no
such weapons. In each case, you went on to express
concerns about the escalation proposed by the
President, and to suggest that there were other,
better ways to deal with this war, although it was
never clear what those ways were. One thing you did
not talk about was the need to withdraw US troops as
quickly as possible from this quagmire. Instead, you
talked about things like bringing more nations on
board (as if they should be brought into a quagmire
that they recognized as such before the war began,
which is why they didn't get on board in the first
place), having better strategies and defineable goals
and such.

I would like to point out a couple of things. First
of all, when the US military invaded Iraq, the
initial, not the subsequent, reasons given for this
war were the fallacious and much discredited lies that
Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that it
somehow had something to do with the attacks of
9/11/2001. Our invasion was based on the dangerous,
untenable, and unethical idea that we had the right to
launch a preemptive first strike against an imagined

So this war was NEVER justified, including the
justification you give it, that we went in to remove a
horrible dictator. Many of us do not believe that the
United States should be, nor deserves the right to be,
the policeman of the world. The fact that someone is
a horrible dictator has never been enough for us to go
in and remove them. If that were true, we would have
removed Pinochet, Suharto, Somoza, Battista, and
countless others--so many examples--if it were not for
the fact that they were all "horrible dictators" who
the US either installed or propped up in power to
serve its own interests--or rather, the interest of
the US power elite (it certainly didn't serve the
interests of poor and working people in the US or

In regards to the "horrible dictator" Saddam Hussein,
it would be good for you to review your history of the
situation. Saddam Hussein rose to power and was
consolidated in that power on the basis of tremendous
US support. When the US supported Hussein, they knew
he was ruthless, cruel, murderous, and a "horrible
dictator". But he served US interests by jailing,
torturing, and killing, en masse, the leaders of the
single largest secular democratic movement in the Arab
world. Unfortunately, the democratic will of the
Iraqi people would not have pleased US corporate
leaders, because it was not the will of the people to
turn all their oil, water, and other resources over to
private, US development.

Furthermore, when Iraq did have chemical weapons and
other capabilities for mass destruction, these were
sold and supplied by US government officials. For
instance, Donald Rumsfeld brokered such deals on
behalf of the Reagan/Bush administration. So if we
really wanted to see justice done regarding this
"horrible dictator's" crimes, we might also want to
indict his co-conspirators. There's plenty of them
there at your new job site in Washington DC.

You were elected to Congress, just like so many
freshman Democratic officials, because of widespread
dissatisfaction and anger regarding this unjust war,
and the thousands upon thousands of US and civilian
Iraqi casualties. Are the deaths and the maimings our
troops have suffered worth the prosecution of this war
based on lies? No, they are not, and I urge you to
recognize this.

Indeed, you, and all the Democrats, indeed, every
politician in Washington DC has been given a mandate:
End this sham of a war and bring our daughters and
sons and mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers
home before even one more of them dies for these lies,
these political games...before one more of them dies
so Halliburton and this and that oil company can make
more KILLER profits.

Rep. Giffords--we have faith in you to represent us,
and that's why you were elected. But enough of this
double speak, enough of these unclear messages, enough
of trying to say things that you think will appeal
both to war supporters and war opponents. This war
was not about removing a "horrible dictator", nor was
it about weapons of mass destruction. This war was
and is about securing profits for a handful of
wealthy, powerful, and corrupt few who simply want to
continue carving up the world and its resources so
that their power and wealth may increase, with no
concern about real democracy, and no concern about the
needs of the rest of us. They think nothing of
sending in 20,000 more trooops, nor of wasting
thousands of more lives for their impure aims..

Rep. Giffords--you are among those that we sent to
Washington DC for an overwhelming purpose: to speak
truth to power, to work to bring our troops home and
to end this murderous war. We must stop this war now.
We must bring our troops home now. We must not
continue to uphold and support this War of Lies.


James Jordan