morgan_dhu: (Default)

I want to talk about something that troubles me greatly.

Why do so many white Western people keep insisting that all Muslims actively disavow the actions of a small number of religious fanatics who want to see the world in flames, when we don't ask the same thing of all Christians? Is it because we believe that Muslims are somehow different from us, that they are inherently more likely to choose and approve of violence? That they need to prove they are not bloodthirsty savages who delight in killing and creating chaos? Because that's what this demand looks like to me.

I have heard people say that Islam is a religion of misogyny and violence, but you know something? I've read both the Bible and the Qu'ran (admittedly, both in translation) and they really aren't much different on those counts. Both have passages that speak to love and peace and compassion, both have passages that seem to counsel violence and intolerance and revenge. Yes, in recent years we have seen much violence done in the name of Islam, but we are also living in a world in which much violence was, and continues to be, done in the name of Christianity.

I've heard people say that Muslims are barbaric and uncivilised, but I've studied history and I know that based on every measure of culture and enlightenment that I know of, by art and law and government and the creation of civil, caring societies, Muslim peoples have not been any less civilised, less cultured, less humane, than other groups of people.

Are we saying, then, that Muslims as a whole are not quite like the rest of us, that they do not feel empathy, compassion, horror and love they way we do? That they lack the breadth of emotions that we have? That they are not quite as human as we are, and hence we expect them not to feel as we do when a tragedy occurs?

What does it say about us, that it is so easy for us to think of others as not just different, but inferior? Perhaps it is we white Western people who lack empathy, compassion, breadth of feeling. We certainly have a long history of being unable to feel empathy toward those who are not white and Western. Maybe it's time for us to become more civilised, more humane, more human.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

... and thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, have died because of his religious mania.

I always suspected this was what was really going on in his mind - after all, Bush had some pretty close ties with all sorts of millenialist evangelicals - but I simply am boggled by the fact that he came out and told world leaders that they should join in the invasion of Iraq because he was on a mission from God.[1]

Some exerpts from the article:
In 2003 while lobbying leaders to put together the Coalition of the Willing, President Bush spoke to France's President Jacques Chirac. Bush wove a story about how the Biblical creatures Gog and Magog were at work in the Middle East and how they must be defeated.


The story has now been confirmed by Chirac himself in a new book, published in France in March, by journalist Jean Claude Maurice. Chirac is said to have been stupefied and disturbed by Bush's invocation of Biblical prophesy to justify the war in Iraq and "wondered how someone could be so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs".

In the same year he spoke to Chirac, Bush had reportedly said to the Palestinian foreign minister that he was on "a mission from God" in launching the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and was receiving commands from the Lord.
You know, this is almost enough to make one think that prospective heads of governemnt should be required to affirm, with their hand on a copy of Darwin's Origin of Species, that they will not in any way allow public policy to be influenced by their personal religious beliefs before being allowed to take office.

[1]And yes, I am totally trying to keep myself from seeing GWB in my mind's eye wearing dark sunglasses and an ill-fitting black suit, singing the Blues while Ackroyd plays harmonica and Belushi does backflips, because that would not only be wrong, but also so disresepctful to the people who have suffered from this man's delusions of divine inspiration.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen

morgan_dhu: (Default)

As Canadians consider whether we want to extend our involvement in the NATO military mission in Afghanistan for another two years, and possibly longer, it may be instructive for us to consider the words of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) on just what's happening with the mission so many of us think is all about restoring peace, security and democracy to Afghanistan. In a communique entitled "The US and Her Fundamentalist Stooges are the Main Human Rights Violators in Afghanistan," issued December 10, 2007 (Universal Human Rights Day), RAWA states, among other things, that:
After about seven years, there is no peace, human rights, democracy and reconstruction in Afghanistan. On the contrary, the destitution and suffering of our people has doubled everyday. Our people, and even our unfortunate children, fall victim to the Jehadis’ infighting (Baghlan incident), the Taliban’s untargeted blasts and the US/NATO’s non-stop bombardments. The Northern Alliance blood-suckers, who are part of Karzai’s team and have key government posts, continue to be the main and the most serious obstacle towards the establishment of peace and democracy in Afghanistan. The existence of tens of illegal private security companies run by these mafia bands are enough to realize their sinister intentions and the danger they pose.

Human rights violations, crime, and corruption have reached their peak, so much so that Mr. Karzai is forced to make friendly pleas to the ministers and members of the parliament, asking them to “keep some limits”! Accusations about women being raped in prisons were so numerous that even a pro-warlord woman in the parliament had no choice but to acknowledge them.
Of course, RAWA spent years trying to get the world to pay attention to what the Taliban was doing to the Afghan people, particularly the women, and no one really thought anything about it until Americans were attacked by some people, primarily Saudi Arabians, who had some tenuous connections with the Taliban. At which time the West responded by bombing the Afghan people, who couldn't even be "bombed into the stone age" because decades of invasions and civil collapse had already done that for them - and claiming that it wasn't just revenge, it was for women's rights. Remember all those pretty speeches about schools for girls and getting rid of burqas?

So I'm thinking that no one's going to pay much attention now when RAWA tries to tell us that we're doing exactly the same thing that the Taliban, and the warlords, and the Russians, were doing before. Because it's never really about the people, especially the women, and what they think, need or want.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

Five years ago today, several thousand people were killed, in New York City, and Washington, and a lonely field in Pennsylvania.

Since that day, tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of people have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

If you choose to remember deaths today, remember all of their deaths.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

I'm not sure where he thinks he's going, but George W. Bush clearly has left the world that most of us live in far behind. I had thought he had a limited grasp on reality, but recent reports make it evident that I was being far too generous.

Thom Shanker and Mark Mazzetti of The New York Times reported last week that during a Monday August 14 "lunch at the Pentagon that included the president’s war cabinet and several outside experts," Bush expressed the following sentiments, which strike me as the maunderings of someone totally dissociated from what is happening in the Middle East.

President Bush made clear in a private meeting this week that he was concerned about the lack of progress in Iraq and frustrated that the new Iraqi government — and the Iraqi people — had not shown greater public support for the American mission, participants in the meeting said Tuesday.


More generally, the participants said, the president expressed frustration that Iraqis had not come to appreciate the sacrifices the United States had made in Iraq, and was puzzled as to how a recent anti-American rally in support of Hezbollah in Baghdad could draw such a large crowd. “I do think he was frustrated about why 10,000 Shiites would go into the streets and demonstrate against the United States,” said another person who attended. Source

So let me get this straight - Bush doesn't understand why the Iraqi people don't support an occupying army, and he doesn't understand why many people living in the Middle East would rather support Hezbollah than support the U.S.

Now I don't give Hezbollah a pass for killing civilians any more than I give the U.S. or Israel a pass to do the same - a war crime is a war crime no matter who committed it - but doesn't it strike anyone in the White Bubble that just maybe, trying to understand why some people in Iraq, and Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories might prefer Hezbollah or Hamas over America might help them figure out how to try and, in the sad cliche, win some hearts and minds? Or are they just going to keep on killing until everyone who doesn't like them is dead, and they don't have to ask themselves these kinds of questions any more?

morgan_dhu: (Default)

Out of Sidon and Tyre came the cedars, the cypress, the stones
for the House of the Lord
for the pillars and floors of the Hall of Justice
for the honour and beauty of the City of Peace.

So give orders that cedars of Lebanon
be cut for me.

Through years and wars and the blood of believers
worn thread-bare
torn apart
washed away.
Where is justice?
Where is peace?
Where is the mercy of God?
Missiles fall
on the houses, the airports, the highways, the children.

Open your doors, O Lebanon,
so that fire may devour your cedars!

Missiles fall
on the hillsides and valleys.
All is flame.

The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.

With the last of the cedars of Lebanon
we build coffins to bury her children.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

Last night I saw the first part of the award-winning BBC documentary The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear on CBC Newsworld's The Passionate Eye.

The documentary explores the rise of fundamentalist Islamist thought in the Middle East and the neo-conservative movement in the west, with particular attention paid to the similarities and interconnections between the two. The starting premise of the documentary is that these two movements are, at the core, both reactions to the failure of liberalism. As it traces the growth of both movements, it also highlights some of the ways in which they have influenced each other, used each other and developed in response to each other.

Because I've done a moderate amount of reading in the last few years on the growth of fundamentalist Islamic thought, much of the historical background addressing this aspect of the film was familiar to me - what really hit me was the recounting of things I had either forgotten about or never known about neocon politics in the US in the 70s and 80s. Though I must admit, I remember sitting with friends - some of whom were ex-pat Americans - on the night Reagan was elected and feeling in the pit of my stomach that this was the beginning of a long nightmare... and finding that everyone agreed with me. I don't think we really could have realised just how much of a nightmare it would be, and just how long it would last.

Some of the material in the film that discusses neocon politics of the Ford and Reagan eras with respect to US policy concerning the Soviet Union seemed eerily and unpleasantly familiar. And why shouldn't it? It is, after all, many of the same men who railed about the threat from the Evil Empire in the 80s who brought us yellowcake, chemical factories on wheels and the Axis of Evil in 2003.

One sequence of a profound deja vu nature outlines the way that neocons Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Pearle et al (as part of the Ford and Reagan governments) set out in the late 70s and 80s to prove that the USSR was secretly building up its armaments to threatening levels and preparing to attack the US. Does this sound at all familiar:

DONALD RUMSFELD, US Secretary of Defense, Speaking in 1976: The Soviet Union has been busy. They’ve been busy in terms of their level of effort; they’ve been busy in terms of the actual weapons they’ve been producing; they’ve been busy in terms of expanding production rates; they’ve been busy in terms of expanding their institutional capability to produce additional weapons at additional rates; they’ve been busy in terms of expanding their capability to increasingly improve the sophistication of those weapons. Year after year after year, they’ve been demonstrating that they have steadiness of purpose. They’re purposeful about what they’re doing. Now, your question is, what ought one to be doing about that? [quoted from transcript available online].

According to the documentary, when informed by the CIA that there was simply no credible intelligence to support this allegation, the neocons argued that the fact that there was no evidence merely proved that the Soviets had to be doing it, but keeping it secret.

While profoundly critical of the neocon movement, the documentary isn't pulling any punches about the Islamist movement either - the leaders of both are shown as, on the one hand, idealists who want to save their people and their worlds from what they believe to be a profound moral and spiritual disease, and on the other hand, cynical manipulators who, believing that their end is so important to the survival of what they cherish that any and all means are justified, start out by creating The Big Lie and end up at least half believing it themselves.

For Canadians and anyone else with access to CBC Newsworld, the documentary concludes tonight - check your local listings for the time.

For anyone else - this documentary is not currently available on DVD due to problems with clearing rights for archival footage, but a transcript - which I skimmed and which appears to be accurate - is available on the Net.

morgan_dhu: (Default)

I found this item courtesy of [profile] techn0goddess.

Let me ask just one simple question.



People all over this planet are strangling on the accumulations of bile-soaked hatred and slaughter justified by fundamentalist doctrines (not to ignore the contributions of all those other wonderful things like colonialism, imperialism and incessant meddling from European and american empires and the global neo-liberal nightmare of untrammelled oppression and greed in the name of the holy profit margin).

And the US military machine is humming "Onward Christian Soldiers."

Is anyone in power there even thinking anymore?

(Edit: I originally misspelled [profile] techn0goddess's name. This has been corrected. My apologies.)
morgan_dhu: (Default)

From [profile] whumpdotcom: If you see this, post the lyrics to an anti-war song in your LJ.

So, here's one of the first ones I ever learned. Seems like some things never change.

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead

Bob Dylan, 1963

morgan_dhu: (Default)

Sad but telling counterpoint to all the political and media frenzy over the termination of the body that once was Terri Schiavo:

U.S. Soldier Convicted of Killing Iraqi Walks Free

Oh yes, mercy killing is a horrible, evil thing when we do it to nice white North American women, but if it's an Iraqi citizen that we just gunned down, well, there's no need to get all worked up about something like that.

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