Why Whip Them When They're

Why Whip Them When They’re Always Self-Flagellating?
Some days ya just gotta do a little fishbarrelling. C’mon — it’ll be fun. I found some big fish in that barrel called The Guardian. Today’s target is George Monbiot, who writes:


Those of us who opposed the bombing of Afghanistan warned that the war between nations would not stop there.

Not to quibble, but your warnings were about how other nations were going to pile on us because of our quagmire in Afghanistan. So you’re right — except that we’ll be carrying on our victorious war efforts to nations of our choosing and on our timetable. Better luck next campaign, George!

Now, as Tony Blair prepares the British people for an attack on Iraq, the conflict seems to be proliferating faster than most of us predicted. But there is another danger, which we have tended to neglect: that of escalating hostilities within the nations waging this war.

Huh? The war at home is going to escalate from the attacks of 9/11 that killed 3,000 civilians? Then we’d better widen that war to other terrorists states much faster than you’re pretending to have predicted.

The racial profiling which has become the unacknowledged focus of America’s new security policy is in danger of provoking the very clash of cultures its authors appear to perceive.

Ha ha. You’re joking, right? Nations who would otherwise not dare to attack us, are going to blow us up because of a tiny domestic policy aimed at increasing security? What next — is Nigeria going to lob missiles at Orange County to instill stronger support for Affirmative Action?


Yesterday’s Guardian told the story of Adeel Akhtar, a British Asian man who flew to the United States for an acting audition. When his plane arrived at JFK airport in New York, he and his female friend were handcuffed. He was taken to a room and questioned for several hours. The officials asked him whether he had friends in the Middle East, or knew anyone who approved of the attacks on September 11. His story will be familiar to hundreds of people of Asian or Middle Eastern origin.

You’re saying someone had to put up with a little inconvenience and a little embarrassment? Pardon me, but we’re still breathing incinerated human body remains here in Manhattan, so I hope Mr. Akhtar understands. And several hundred people, you say, have suffered the indignity of answering questions? We lost several thousand to barbarian attacks. Sorry if civilization is now only 99% as civil as it used to be.

I have just obtained a copy of a letter sent last week by a 50-year-old British Asian woman (who doesn’t want to be named) to the US immigration service. At the end of January, she flew to JFK to visit her sister, who is suffering from cancer. At the airport, immigration officials found that on a previous visit she had overstayed her visa. She explained that she had been helping her sister, who was very ill, and had applied for an extension. When the officers told her she would have to return to Britain, she accepted their decision but asked to speak to the British consul.


A bureaucratic paperwork snafu? Say it isn’t so! Good thing that never happens in life-or-death situations, like in your National Health Service.

They refused her request, but told her she could ring the Pakistani consulate if she wished. She explained that she was British, not Pakistani, as her passport showed. The guards then started to interrogate her. How many languages did she speak? How long had she lived in Britain? They smashed the locks on her suitcases and took her fingerprints. Then she was handcuffed and chained and marched through the departure lounge. “I felt like the guards were parading me in front of the passengers like their prize catch. Why was I put in handcuffs? I am a 50-year-old housewife from the suburbs of London. What threat did I pose to the safety of the other passengers?”

One more time: Everyone is just going to have to be a little patient with us while we get our bearings. Ms. Anonymous was not detained for more than 24 hours, she was not sent to a camp, she was not executed. When these things start happening, then it’s time to worry.

Last week, a correspondent for the Times found 30 men and a woman camped in a squalid hotel in Mogadishu, in Somalia. They were all African-Americans of Somali origin, who had arrived in the US as babies or children. Most were professionals with secure jobs and stable lives. In January, just after the release of Black Hawk Down (the film about the failed US military mission in Somalia), they were rounded up. They were beaten, threatened with injections and refused phone calls and access to lawyers. Then, a fortnight ago, with no charges made or reasons given, they were summarily deported to Somalia. Now, without passports, papers or money, in an alien and frightening country, they are wondering whether they will ever see their homes again.


That sounds pretty awful. Wait… I remember Mogadishu from TV, and the whole place is squalid. No sources, no quotes, no names for the rest — not even a link to The Times story. So we’ll just skip this part.

This is the morass into which Tony Blair is stepping. “These are not people like us,” he said of the Iraqi leadership on Sunday. “They are not people who abide by the normal rules of human behaviour.” Some would argue that this quality establishes their kinship with British ministers. But to persuade us that we should go to war with Iraq, Blair must first make its leaders appear as remote from ourselves as possible.

“Morass!” Finally, the Quagmire Worry. I thought George would get through the whole column without it.

We’ll just skip to the end now, since the rest is just Racists Under Every Bed twaddle. I get it, I get it — I’m a bad man who kills black people, and probably even suspicious of people with nice tans. That George Hamilton guy better watch himself.

The attack on Iraq, when it comes, could in a sense be the beginning of a third world war. It may, as hints dropped by the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, suggest, turn out to be the first phase of a war involving many nations. It may also become a war against the third world, and its diaspora in the nations of the first.


We can only hope.


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