Anger. That is what I have been feeling all month. It is the type of anger that can consume a person, an anger that can conquer the mind and flood the conscience. It is born from the very fire in my belly, the fire that drives my life and inspires my work.
Armed with this righteous anger, I am commemorating the ten-year anniversary of one of the United States’ most criminal acts in history: the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Ten years ago, the Bush administration and its global clan of cronies (the so called “Coalition of the Willing”) carried out a war based on lies. Bush’s collection of cowboys, from Dick Cheney to Colin Powell, stood before the entire world and put on display the shakiest, shoddiest, and most embarrassing assortment of “evidence” as to convince the international community that Iraq possessed “weapons of mass destruction” (WMDs).
The Bush Administration was so eager to invade that it completely ignored the reports of the head of the United Nations weapons inspection team in Iraq, Hans Blix. Mr. Blix recently wrote an article in CNN Opinion where he called the invasion a “violation of the U.N. Charter.” In that same article, he also very clearly stated that his team “found no weapons.” Nevertheless, the bloodthirsty Bush administration was not interested in facts, only war, and that is exactly what the world was given – an unjust, unnecessary, and absolutely immoral war.
In 2003, as the United States was in the process of mobilizing for yet another west Asian invasion, I was put in the uneasy position of being both vocally Arab and vocally against war. Some of my classmates jeered, joked, and called me names. A few cheered the war as a way to “fight terrorists.” Others called on the government to turn the Middle East into a “parking lot” (ostensibly to build a giant Wal-Mart, the crown jewel of US imperial conquest). This is how I spent my high school years, arguing with anyone who supported an attack on Iraq and being insulted when I challenged government propaganda.
Now, I can look back on those years and know that I was vindicated. That is because what the Bush administration has unleashed upon the world is nothing short of unspeakable horror, a horror that is also fundamentally criminal. Moreover, as I recount those moments of tension with classmates, I can only imagine what they as adults are feeling today, as we must all live with the very real consequences of a decade of uncontrollable war.
Are they remorseful? Do they regret being cheerleaders for an unjust war? Do they even have a clue that war crimes have been committed or has the corporate media fed them so much nonsense over the years that they are asleep to reality? Dangerous times indeed.
So looking back at my youth and reflecting on how I feel today, my anger has never actually subsided. In those days, my anger was focused on the Bush administration, on UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the many other politicians who pushed for war.
Today, my anger is galvanized mainly by the apathy of so many around me, by the indifference of the mainstream media, and by the refusal of our current (no less criminal) government to prosecute warmongers. My mind is boggled by the reality around me: we are living through an era of complete shame, one that has generated an irremovable stain on the collective national soul of the United States, and people seem to be utterly unfazed.
Even the New York Times, the most respected newspaper in the country, is taking what it calls a “low-key approach” to the anniversary of the invasion. A low-key approach? A low-key approach to an event that destroyed any shred, any last iota of moral legitimacy the United States claimed to have? Is that how the Times and the rest of the mainstream media wish to do penance for their sin of openly contributing to the culture of deceit that prepped the American people for an illegal war? Blasé nonchalance? Outrageous. Scandalous. Criminal.
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The United States is undergoing a period of intense violence. Urban areas are rife with murder and gang activity. Shootings are rampant and dangerously common. We as a people are facing a very real culture of killing that has thrown society into a fit. Politicians are trying to pinpoint the reasons behind this explosion of deadly violence, this rise in hate. Everyone from the head of the NRA to the President himself has something to say about this issue.
But, try as they might to find the cause of this killing epidemic, they all seem to ignore what may in fact be at the heart of this senseless cruelty: a political class that can commit crimes, kill countless civilians, and drop bombs without fear of even the slightest repercussions. Yes, they can blame video games, movies, guns, whatever, but they never seem to reach the core of the problem. They are quick to point fingers at things that are seemingly destructive forces in society, but in reality, all they must do is look in a mirror and see that it is their behavior, their unpunished criminality, their successful globalization of war, that is most likely at the heart of this out of control violence.
Let us not forget that when the aggression against Iraq began in March 2003, CNN and other media outlets were all too eager to show Americans the power of the US military. The initial bombing of Baghdad, what was called “shock and awe,” was broadcast into living rooms around the country and the world. Children were being trained to cheer this destruction, to appreciate the war being waged on unnamed, faceless people. This normalization of violence, this celebration of hate, can seriously debilitate a society and arouse the most primal instincts within people, leading to the destruction of the collective social conscience.
The United States is in need of serious soul searching. For a decade of criminality to simply be cast aside as nothing more than an “oops” moment is truly appalling. The highest levels of government are doing nothing but continuing the War on (of) Terror. Acts of aggression remain part of the political status quo. Prosecution for past crimes is not even considered. This is US society in decline. Regular Americans are the only people who can do something to reverse this terrible reality. The burden is on every one of us to stand up to the bullies who have conquered our government and show them that we have not forgotten and will never forget what they have done to Iraq and her people.
We, as engaged citizens, must reignite our collective conscience, to stand with justice even when those in power ignore it. The time is now; or, the Iraq tragedy will repeat itself again and again, and again. Truly, humanity is capable of so much more than just this wretched status quo.
“It was curious to think that the sky was the same for everybody, in Eurasia or Eastasia as well as here. And the people under the sky were also very much the same —everywhere, all over the world, hundreds or thousands of millions of people just like this, people ignorant of one another’s existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies, and yet almost exactly the same — people who had never learned to think but were storing up in their hearts and bellies and muscles the power that would one day overturn the world.”
1984, George Orwell
The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not neccessarily reflect those of Your Middle East.
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