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Tuesday, Mar. 25, 2003 at 8:30 AM
Hold the phone!
A group of American anti-war demonstrators who came to Iraq with Japanese human shield volunteers made it across the border today with 14 hours of uncensored video, all shot without Iraqi government minders present. Kenneth Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, told UPI the trip "had shocked me back to reality." Some of the Iraqis he interviewed on camera "told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn't start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists. Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so they could hear their screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head." »
Let me take a deep breath.
So, Kenneth Joseph young American pastor at the Assyrian Church of the East, I guess it feels good to be back in reality so suddenly.
I just hope you'll remember that while you were systematically denying and dismissing your government's cogent and restrained policy and while you were - most probably - comparing Mr. Bush with Hitler or your country with the worst dictatorships in History and claiming "it's about oil", which eventually led you on this path of enlightenment that ended in Baghdad with a reality check, people were actually being slowly tortured and put in plastic shredders, feet first.
We can safely assume that it's the "peace" movement and the Axis of Weasels orchestrated dissent at the UN security council that comforted the aforementioned "sick sadist" in thinking that he could go for another arm-wrestling round with the free world. I will therefore safely assume that you, your friends and my government colluded with Saddam Hussein's regime, are responsible for leaving him as the Commander in Chief of the Torturers much longer than he could have been, and, by compromising the unity of a worldwide diplomatic pressure to force Saddam to disarm and leave peacefully, are responsible for the need to disarm and remove him by force. Yes, this means "war", and yes, war means "more casualties".
You'll live with that, Mr. "Shocked back to Reality".
Okay, send in the next "Shocked back to common sense" dummy please.
« I wanted to join the human shields in Baghdad because it was direct action which had a chance of bringing the anti-war movement to the forefront of world attention »
Oddly enough, I didn't feel like the so called anti-war movement had any difficulty getting to the forefront of the world's attention lately. But it's in the mythology of these people to claim they're being repressed and muzzled by big bad fascists states while they are in fact the most vociferous and anti democratic of the herd.
« I am a 23-year-old Jewish-American photographer living in Islington, north London. I had traveled in the Middle East before: as a student, I went to the Palestinian West Bank during the intifada. I also went to Afghanistan as a photographer for Newsweek. »
Hence the problems in getting the world's attention I guess...
« We on the bus felt that we were sympathetic to the views of the Iraqi civilians, even though we didn't actually know any. »
Well that's fine. The French intelligentsia is famous for its renowned "thinkers" with the same "extensive knowledge" of the Russian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Cubans, etc. civilians all along the XXth century and their "sympathetic views" for the bloody regimes that crushed them. And it's still true (more than ever actually) for those that are still active or for the "new" ones.
So with the Oh-So-cultivated French intellectuals as moral and political guides, with "prestigious" historical examples such as Jean-Paul Sartre claiming in 1953 "there's a total freedom of objection in the USSR", I'd say there's nothing you should worry about right?
« The group was less interested in standing up for their (the Iraqi civilians) rights than protesting against the US and UK governments. »
Wow. Lucidity at work.
« I was shocked when I first met a pro-war Iraqi in Baghdad - a taxi driver taking me back to my hotel late at night. I explained that I was American and said, as we shields always did, "Bush bad, war bad, Iraq good". He looked at me with an expression of incredulity. »
Somehow, I feel very close to this taxi driver.
"Bush bad, war bad, Iraq good", as "you shields" always do.
I bet the only thing that saved your sorry face to be smashed by the man was his incredulity.
And the fear of his oppressor's intelligence service of course.
By the way, can you imagine telling "war bad, Germany good" to a modest Jew shopkeeper in 1938 Germany, Mr. "We shields" ?
No need to answer that was rhetorical.
« As he realised I was serious, he slowed down and started to speak in broken English about the evils of Saddam's regime. (...) It scared the hell out of me. First I was thinking that maybe it was the secret police trying to trick me (...) »
Secret police? Trying to trick you? Why no sweetie... "Iraq good" remember?
Or maybe you're implicitly acknowledging that you knew about the criminal nature of Saddam's regime, that you were conscious about it, yet you decided to join the human shields in Baghdad?
Just how low can you go exactly?
« but later I got the impression that he wanted me to help him escape. I felt so bad. I told him: "Listen, I am just a schmuck from the United States, I am not with the UN, I'm not with the CIA - I just can't help you." »
"I'm not with the CIA - I just can't help you". This is going to be one of my favorite taglines ever.
So, partial lucidity at work here: that's right, you're just a schmuck from the United States, that's right the CIA could have helped the man - I mean technically - but as for the UN, you're wrong since it wouldn't help the poor fellow anyway.
Let's not forget that the people of the UN on the field handed over to Saddam's bullies the Iraqis who tried to board their vehicles shouting "Save me" while their bosses in the main office were busy blocking any attempt, diplomatic or not, to liberate the country.
"UN" and "help" is a bad example Mr. "We shields". I'm afraid your lucidity still needs a bit of work.
« Of course I had read reports that Iraqis hated Saddam Hussein, but this was the real thing. »
Now you're talking dude.
And you're acknowledging, this time explicitly, that you knew about the criminal nature of Saddam's regime.
Yet you decided to join the human shields in Baghdad.
During WWII, France and just about every nation in Nazi occupied Europe had volunteer SS legions.
The only thing that's still preventing me to compare you directly with them is that I'm wondering if you could be classified as a "combatant" or not.
Well, you would have been part of a passive defense anyway. That's something to meditate I guess.
« (...) a few days later I left Baghdad for Jordan by taxi (...). Once over the border we felt comfortable enough to ask our driver what he felt about the regime and the threat of an aerial bombardment. (...) "Don't you listen to Powell on Voice of America radio?" he said. "Of course the Americans don't want to bomb civilians. They want to bomb government and Saddam's palaces. We want America to bomb Saddam."
We just sat, listening, our mouths open wide. Jake, one of the others, just kept saying, "Oh my God" as the driver described the horrors of the regime. Jake was so shocked at how naive he had been. We all were. (...) »
A short stop to empathize with poor Jack. What a shock really.
Okay, let's continue with the Powell/Voice of America/bombing question:
« He (the taxi driver) seemed convinced that civilian casualties would be small; he had such enormous faith in the American war machine to follow through on its promises. Certainly more faith than any of us had. »
Well... "Oh my God" as poor Jack would put it, looks like this Iraqi taxi driver listening to Mr. Powell on Voice of America was right to put his trust in the American war machine so far: the first "Shock and Awe" operation Jack's former comrades welcomed with falsely horrified cries of "Guernica!" and "Dresden!" that were barely hiding their insane joy to be gifted with a new propaganda argument, claimed three lives the first night.
Between 300 and 400 missiles in 90 minutes over a single city. Three dead.
And that's the Iraqi report.
Next time, I suggest Jack 'O meGod listen to Voice of America first.
« Perhaps the most crushing thing we learned was that most ordinary Iraqis thought Saddam Hussein had paid us to come to protest in Iraq. Although we explained that this was categorically not the case, I don't think he believed us. Later he asked me: "Really, how much did Saddam pay you to come?" »
Well, well, well... How does it feel to be caught at your very own "conspiracy game"?
I appreciate the fact that among the horrors of the regime described by the Iraqi taxi driver, the most crushing for you is to see your benevolence challenged and suspected of corruption. What a shock really.
Anyway, the most pitiable thing is that, I, for once, believe you're sincere.
Saddam didn't pay you. You did this for free and willingly. Live with it.
« My understanding changed on intellectual, emotional, psychological levels. (...) Last Thursday night I went to photograph the anti-war rally in Parliament Square. Thousands of people were shouting "No war" but without thinking about the implications for Iraqis. It really upset me. »
Glad to read your experience is helping your self-realization.
Well, what really upsets me is that you, and the people like you, systematically doubt the intentions and assertions of genuine democratic nations and their leadership while swallowing hungrily those of declared dictatorships without ever challenging them, and what's worse, deliberately hiding or distorting the facts and hushing the voices that could contradict them.
Including the voices of the very people suffering from those dictatorships.
What really upsets me is that there's still a lot of your former comrades who are, as you put it, less interested in standing up for the Iraqi civilians' rights than protesting against the US and UK governments.
What really upsets me is that these "comrades" will keep on claiming that the coalition is "attacking" and Arab state, killing "hundreds of thousands" while it is, in fact, liberating an Arab people with unprecedented caution from any other army in History, to avoid civilian casualties.
And what really upsets me is that, consequently and as always, it's the silent, the weak, the downtrodden, those who stand next to the common graves, waiting for the bullet, those who die slowly, feet first in plastic shredders, screaming in inconceivable pain, those who are forced to watch their wives raped or their children tortured, or those who are "just" condemned to a life in misery and deprivation of their most basic rights who are sacrificed while the anti-war movement is dancing to Samba music in the streets, enjoying a grand day out with elaborated costumes and signs in the comfort of a democratic state that guarantees their right to criticize it without reserve.
That being said, my most esteemed audience could wonder what's the point in overwhelming Kenneth "Shocked back to Reality" , Daniel "Really upset" and Jack "Oh my God". After all, these guys learned something and opened their eyes right?
Right. But they're not my main concern. The freedom of the Iraqis is closing now, despite the "anti-war" efforts, and Daniel's emotional blossoming won't change a thing.
I'm way more concerned with the fact that when this is over and when the coalition of the willing starts to deal with other declared threats, using force or not, I'm pretty sure there will be an Iranian student or a North Korean citizen with nothing but grass to feed on, that will end up hearing "Bush bad, war bad" with an expression of incredulity, just before the "I'm not with the CIA - I just can't help you" tagline comes out.
And that really upsets me.
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