Monday, March 05, 2007

"Blizzard of bloodstained pages"

Car bomb kills 28 at Baghdad [book] market


You know...I've hardly even mentioned this giant fucking miserable dying elephant in the collective living room. Because...well, I'll be honest. I'd gotten numb. and, I didn't want to hear about it. Lucky me, I'm able to tune it out by shutting off the news.

Too bad it's not so easy for the people actually y'know living there.

As I write this, Oprah is on Channel 4 (one of the MBC channels we get on Nilesat), showing Americans how to get out of debt. Her guest speaker is telling a studio full of American women who seem to have over-shopped that they could probably do with fewer designer products. As they talk about increasing incomes and fortunes, Sabrine Al-Janabi, a young Iraqi woman, is on Al Jazeera telling how Iraqi security forces abducted her from her home and raped her. You can only see her eyes, her voice is hoarse and it keeps breaking as she speaks. In the end she tells the reporter that she can’t talk about it anymore and she covers her eyes with shame.

She might just be the bravest Iraqi woman ever. Everyone knows American forces and Iraqi security forces are raping women (and men), but this is possibly the first woman who publicly comes out and tells about it using her actual name. Hearing her tell her story physically makes my heart ache. Some people will call her a liar. Others (including pro-war Iraqis) will call her a prostitute- shame on you in advance.

I wonder what excuse they used when they took her. It’s most likely she’s one of the thousands of people they round up under the general headline of ‘terrorist suspect’. She might have been one of those subtitles you read on CNN or BBC or Arabiya, “13 insurgents captured by Iraqi security forces.” The men who raped her are those same security forces Bush and Condi are so proud of- you know- the ones the Americans trained. It’s a chapter right out of the book that documents American occupation in Iraq: the chapter that will tell the story of 14-year-old Abeer who was raped, killed and burned with her little sister and parents.

They abducted her from her house in an area in southern Baghdad called Hai Al Amil. No- it wasn’t a gang. It was Iraqi peace keeping or security forces- the ones trained by Americans? You know them. She was brutally gang-raped and is now telling the story...


So, yeah. What momentarily jolted me out of my numb apathy about this latest headline horror?

The bloodstained pages. The fact that it was a book market. Like you know, the nice Strand one down by Central Park perhaps? A sunny day, a pleasant outing. Or an attempt at one.

Just one more way of people -trying- to live like normal amid chaos and misery and horror and--no. Not even that.

28 people dead. Blood wiping out ink, words. Stories, lost, in blood.

The rest of the story is of course written in the usually distancing tone: al-Sadr, forces moving, this, that, blahblah, it's a giant strategy game, is war. Over there. "So we don't have to fight it over here." Nodnod, what's for breakfast.

I'll tell you something. I don't ever, ever, EVER want to hear -one- more motherfucking asshole use 9/11 as a way to wring outrage and pieta as a justification for this fucking abortion of a war, ever again. And, I LIVE HERE. I was there, I saw the fucking towers on fire, I have my story of That Day just like everybody else. It was bad.

And you know what? That was ONE DAY. Where in fact we won the cosmic lottery of horror and the pleasant banal day turned into a nightmare.

Now, imagine feeling like that EVERY. SINGLE. FUCKING. DAY.

With no end in sight.

What in God's FUCKING name are people thinking? What the hell does it take?

Why can't I allow myself to feel enough to get up off my ass and singlehandedly stop this?

Oh, right. Because, I can't.

We couldn't.

I marched in the parades I mean demonstrations. -Before- the fucking thing was launched. It was a "task force," ignore. That was a nice day, too, though. Leisurely stroll to downtown, dinner with friends afterward. Great.

People do a lot more. I could certainly be doing a lot more. It's not really about me, is the thing.

What the fuck.

I wonder if any of those books were Shakespeare, specifically the Scottish play.

I wonder how "out, out, damned spot" translates.

18 comments:

Eli said...

It's like watching a really gruesome car wreck in very, very slow-motion, that you know could have been prevented if the drunken semi driver had not inexplicably decided that he should veer into the oncoming lane of traffic.

Sure, we all yelled at him to stop, that he was going to wrong way and people were going to get killed, but he just shrugged us off as nervous nellies.

And he's *still* plowing into oncoming traffic, because turning around into the proper lane would be too embarrassing - it would screw up the whole "I meant to do that" macho cool thang he has going on.

Have I mentioned that I really hate that stupid, evil bastard?

belledame222 said...

watching, and in some cases being stuck in the backseat.

and yeah: it almost seems redundant at this point, doesn't it? "Yep, he's still a stupid, evil bastard. Film at eleven."

Ravenstar said...

well at some point we are going to have to do more than just rail against it.

positive affirmations just aren't working, belief that humans are evolving past this just isn't panning out.

The question is how do we stop it without becoming what we are trying to stop?

R. Mildred said...

I wonder what excuse they used when they took her.

Why'd they need an excuse? death squads don't say please, some group that's getting a government pay check probably just broke into her home in the early hours of the morning, took her away, did their thang, handed her to some second party, filled out the claim forms that means they get the commission for it, bish bash bosh.

Oh, and the death squad members are probably work for at least one other anti-coalition terrorist group and are using these pick ups and disappearings to engage in ethnic cleansings and settle old personal issues while ingratiating themselves into the coalition's operational infrastructure so that they or others they're associated with can pull off truly impressive acts of terrorism taht gains their group some good infidel fighting propaganda.

I'm trying to think of a worse system for acheiving anything within an occupied state, they've some how coupled the kossacks with the old raj's indian troops and mashed together something of the nazi's extra-german recruits in eastern europe with all the flaws of each of the various systems, and none of the good points (what there was of them).

Central Content Publisher said...

positive affirmations just aren't working, belief that humans are evolving past this just isn't panning out. - Ravenstar

In a weird way, we're actually closer to ending war than we have been in thousands of years. It doesn't seem that way because humanity's capability to wage war has increased a hundred fold. We're in this strange place where the amount of war in the world has increased, but less so than one would expect considering our increased capacity.

I know that feels like a slim consolation prise, but there you have it.

I think our big trials are ahead though. Mechanisms like the U.N., open markets (this is a mixed bag but...), and industrialization have allowed us curtail the vast majority of 20th century conflicts. It's easy to forget that when you look at the conflicts that weren't prevented.

However, this path to peace (as wobbly as it has been), will be stressed to breaking as oil runs out (we're at peak oil now) and global warming turns up the environmental instability dial.

There's a chance we might have just witnessed the peak of human civilization. I think I would be disappointed if this was the case.

Anyway, the Neocon plan, especially concerning Iraq, is a plan to control the world's dwindling resources. It's a valid strategy for survival (though, I don't think it's going to be a very effective one), but I guess the question is: for the survival of what?

Iraq itself, is a great answer to that question.

Chuckie K said...

Of course, the U.S. had been mass murdering Iraqis for over a decade before the current administration escalated the war again. So Clinton deserves every angry insult directed against Bush here.

Because the war enjoys such firm bipartisan consensus, and in policy terms has sealed the conservative victory over the old transatlantic consensus, the political struggle against the war faces very long odds. Teh struggle ultimately faces not just this war but the very policy of war. Right now they are deploying to open two more fronts in Africa. The very suggestion that we have in recent decades made strides in ending war strikes me as preposterous. The imperialists haven't massacred each others populaces for a while but the rest of the world has paid in spades.
If anyone isn't unhappy enough already, let me also suggest the cuts in Medicare and Medicaid will quickly kill more people than died in 9/11. Head over to a long-term care facility with Meicaid funded residents if you have any doubts.

Kim said...

I lovie you, Belle.
Just wanted to say that :)

belledame222 said...

It's a valid strategy for survival (though, I don't think it's going to be a very effective one), but I guess the question is: for the survival of what?

Good question.

The answer was no doubt -supposed- to be, something that looks a lot like the U.S. right now, somehow suspended in time.

Let me be not the first to say: I wouldn't have been down with that even if I thought there was the slightest change it would work.

but then, I live in the reality based community, more or less, for better or for worse.

shame even their fantasies are so banal and ugly.

kim: thanks, lovie you back

Central Content Publisher said...

The very suggestion that we have in recent decades made strides in ending war strikes me as preposterous - Chuckie K

It may very well strike you this way, but it doesn't make it any less true. You could be standing neck deep in radioactive landfill instead of posting this comment, but you aren't. That reality exists because of strides toward peace... not because of chance.

Granted, my "we" is a little different from your we. I'm not an American. When I say "we", I meant humanity in general.

Central Content Publisher said...

...something that looks a lot like the U.S. right now, somehow suspended in time. - belledame222

Yeah, it's true. I've gotten into a lot of fights with American liberals over this (the conversation generally doesn't even get that far with conservatives). Specifically regarding international interventions. There's a persistent idea in American politics (left and right) that American military power can be used for "good". At face value, it doesn't sound like an extraordinarily unreasonable suggestion.

But I find, all too often, that means undermining international institutions. Ultimately it robs international mechanisms of the opportunity to develop effective policies.

If America really wanted to commit its military to the "good" of the world, it would hand the bulk of it over the the U.N. rather than reserving unilateral military power to project their idea of good into selected situations.

Not that that is likely to happen.:P

Eli said...

There's a persistent idea in American politics (left and right) that American military power can be used for "good". At face value, it doesn't sound like an extraordinarily unreasonable suggestion.

But I find, all too often, that means undermining international institutions. Ultimately it robs international mechanisms of the opportunity to develop effective policies.


Well, military power tends to be a pretty blunt instrument under the best of circumstances. In the hands of insane, macho neocons, it's like one of those big cartoony sledgehammer mallets.

Cassandra Says said...

Honestly, I can't watch or read news from Iraq. I just can't. I had a moment where I almost skipped this post, because it hits too close to home.
See, I grew up in the Middle East. Distancing is, for me, impossible. When I read stories like this I slip back into my 8 or 12 or 15 year old self, browsing through those same book markets or ones much like them. I was in Saudi Arabia when the massacre in Mecca happened, and I've seen video of it taken by a friend who was there...I can't distance. Every person in those news reels reminds me of someone I grew up with. I look at the kids running around in a panic, at the old people for whom escaping was never even an option, and I break down every time. What's wrong with the American public that they can see pain in someone else's eyes and just shrug it off?
And about the specific issue of rape in the war zone...I think it's hard for Americans to understand the extra weight this puts on women there, on top of all the trauma that accompanies any rape. These women will be called whores, some of them will end up being killed by their own families, the pain and the shame they feel will radiate out like a toxic cloud. Most of these women will be unable to marry, in a country where existance as an unmarried woman is very difficult.
And also important to note...it's not just the Iraqui security forces that are doing it. How many cases involving the American troops are we just not hearing about?
London was hit too, though not nearly as severely as NYC, and that's home to me. I could have easily been on one of those trains or buses. One of my best friends lives in Russel Square, very near where the bus bomb hit, and I spent the whole of that day unable to reach her and convinced she was dead.
If people like Belle and I who actually felt the attacks up close and personal can still see that this war is a travesty, what's everyone else's excuse for supporting it?

belledame222 said...

What's wrong with the American public that they can see pain in someone else's eyes and just shrug it off?

Or laugh at it. Take a look at the next post. (not about Iraq. a "lighter" subject, if you will: disability).

Yeah, I don't know what's wrong with people.

and, I'm not sure whether it would make me feel better or worse to think this really is an especially American thing.

Eli said...

and, I'm not sure whether it would make me feel better or worse to think this really is an especially American thing.

To the extent that media shapes our attitudes, ours is unusually jingoistic compared to Europe's.

Whether Europe's more enlightened media truly makes for more enlightened people, I can't say.

Cassandra Says said...

"Whether Europe's more enlightened media truly makes for more enlightened people, I can't say."
It doesn't in the UK, unfortunately. Not on the mainland either as far as I can tell other than little pockets of sanity, mostly in Scandanavia.

Rosie said...

Dubyah and company haven't gotten the message that there ain't no cold cokes in hell, yet.

Voices against this war are well into their "base" at this point. The mountain folk where I live have turned against it and Appalachians love a good war. They were really gun ho at first but even they are in favor of pulling out now. Granted...they want out for all the wrong reasons and it has nothing to do with empathy for the suffering over there. But I'll take it.

belledame222 said...

exactly.

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