Monday, December 15, 2008

The Man Who Threw Away His Shoes

They say that some sociopathic and psychopathic criminals, those with no conscience, or those with unparalleled levels of rage, love of violence, excitement at the thought of the suffering they can cause to others, like to keep trophies of their crimes, mementos from their victims. Maybe a sweet little necklace from a girl abducted, raped, murdered. Possibly a T-shirt from the little boy brutalized by the predator, or a handbag from the women kidnapped in the parking lot on her way home from work, but never to reach home again.

I thought of those criminals this week-end when I saw that George W. Bush just had to go back to Iraq one last time before he leaves office, one last opportunity to do a fly-over and peer down from his plane on the devastation and chaos he had created, one last chance to review the silent streets, empty or destroyed houses, and ponder the women, grandmas, babies, infants, little children murdered because of him, because he is such a powerful man, and so ruthless, the last time he could smell the blood in the earth and know he put it there. And I couldn't help but think of monstrous men like Ted Bundy who enjoyed forcing his victims to smile, to pretend to love and admire him as a condition for their lives: smile pretty or I'll cut your ears off. Was it the same type of impulse that led George W. Bush to stage a press conference. The man who is largely incapable of phrasing a sentence absolutely needed to order journalists across that poor country to be gathered in a room to worship him, to take his picture, to swear that they admired him, to help create this fictional history in which he is the king, the savior, and they, the non-white folks, love and adore him. Maybe he thought they'd re-name the country after him when he's gone.

Not so fast George. Because in that audience of journalists, in that war-torn land, that poor brutalized nation in which hundreds of thousands if not millions of people are dead because of George W. Bush, millions turned into refugees, in that country in which the U.S. has sent in private contractors to train and form roaming death squads to kill anyone at random to terrify the citizens and gain control, in that community in which all their resources have been taken by western oil companies, in which the U.S. has built compounds and forts to house future armies of America on land that has been stolen, in that region in which the earth is fertilized with the blood of the citizens, in that occupied territory in which people are arrested without cause, tortured, disappeared, murdered, in that geographical area of dirt in which people often cannot even have a drink of water for their babies, in that country there was a man, Iraqi Journalist Muntather Al-Zaydia, who stood up at the press conference, took off his shoes, and threw them at George W. Bush.

What kind of courage does it take to stand up to a monster, a man who has already destroyed much of a country, caused the murder of so many of the people, a man who could order any person's death with a blink of his hollow eyes, to do so in full view of cameras and the world knowing that this simple act might be the last one on earth? How astonishing the courage of this man, the man who threw away his shoes. How much can we possibly admire a man who speaks for an entire nation without saying a word.

George W. Bush made a joke of it, of course. Nothing makes him laugh so much as the suffering and misery of others. He does not care if this man's parents, wife, children, siblings, neighbors, were all killed. George W. Bush has no compassion. That's why he could eat birthday cake while the citizens of the U.S. died from lack of a bottle of water. That's why he has that blank look on his face -- absence of thought, absence of compassion.

When Adolph Hitler began his efforts to take over the world, he built a propaganda campaign against Poland, telling everyone in the world that Poland was an aggressor nation, Poland was sending its troops across the border at night to attack and kill "decent" German families, that Poland was threatening Germany, so when Hitler invaded Poland he claimed that Germany had been threatened, it was acting in its own defense, he had no other choice. This is the exact same argument Bush and Cheney used when they invaded Iraq. They claimed Iraq was a threat to the U.S., that we were acting in self-defense. But they knew that was a lie.

We don't know how many people have died in Iraq because of this war because the Bush administration had an official policy that no person could count the dead. I think they knew in advance that hundreds of thousands, maybe well over a million, would die, but they did not want an official record. So now they claim ignorance. I wonder if they had in mind those men tried at Neuremberg. We know that the Bush administration throughout has been concerned with the possiblity that individual members of that administration might be held liable for international war crimes. Maybe that's why they drink -- chase away those nightmares.

One brave Iraqi journalist stood up against this revisionism. He reportedly has been arrested. Call or fax in support of this brave man Iraqi Journalist Muntather Al-Zaydi and demand that he be allowed to live his life and practice his profession without any interference by the Iraqi government:

Iraq Embassy
1801 P Street, NW, Washington DC 20036
Telephone: (202) 483-7500 (They have a robo-answering service, and do not provide a general message center. I just dialed the first extension they provided, Extension 106, and waited for the tone and left a message there. So far, their fax machine has been consistently busy (or unplugged) so faxes are not getting through.)
Fax: (202) 462-5066

White House
Phone: (202) 456-1111
(202) 202-456-1414
Fax: (202) 456-2461

1 comment:

  1. Finally, an Iraqi citizen (not a puppet or politician) gets some airtime and ink in America.

    This is how Iraqis feel about America. The truth.

    Guess what the WH press corps has on their blog? Press begging Perino to feed them some "good news" scraps about Bush.