Archive for the 'Iraq' Category

holy shit.

Saddam Hussein was executed.

Immediate reaction? Now it’s time to brace ourselves for what will happen within Iraq, and beyond.

It’s huge. And somehow, just really fucking weird.


“Congress passes ban on protests at military funerals; still OK to protest at funerals of murdered homosexuals.”*

*(thanks to my friend Chris for this post’s title)

A while back I wrote about the new outcry over the Westboro Baptist Church’s protests at the funerals of soldiers who died in Iraq. In these demonstrations, they spew their usual, hateful homophobia, claiming that soldiers are dying because america, unlike their twisted version of God, apparently loves fags. (Yeah. Uh huh.)

Today, Congress easily passed legislation barring such protests at military funerals held at national cemeteries. How nice that Congress was so moved and angered that they jumped to stop homophobic protests at the funerals “fallen heroes,” as the act calls the soldiers, when they can’t be bothered to do much of anything for actual queers. Maybe if a whole lot of queers go invade another country and shoot and abuse the brown people there, Congress will start caring about us, too?

The article states that more than a dozen states are considering similar legislation that would cover nonfederal cemeteries. I wonder if their wording will extend to protect all people, including queer folks, from these kinds of protests, or if they’ll specifically limit their protection to military funerals. I fully expect the latter to be the case.

From one war on people of color to another

From a CNN report: “An amendment cutting Bush’s Iraq request by $1.9 billion to pay for new aircraft, patrol boats and other vehicles, as well as border checkpoints and a fence along the Mexico border crossing near San Diego widely used by illegal immigrants was adopted on 59-39 vote.”

Really, when is the War on Illegal Immigration going to enter the official political lexicon alongside the War on Terrorism and the War on Drugs? Which are all essentially euphemistic pseudoynms for Excuses to Wage War on People of Color, when you get down to it.

Also: those politicians and other people who have hardline view on immigration should read this article about a Senegalese high schooler who has struggled for years to stay in america, stay alive, stay in school, only to face possible deportation now. As I’ve written before, I’m wary of the sort of appeals that pit “good immigrants” against “bad ones” – “Look at this brilliant, well-behaved high school student! Clearly, he deserves to stay in this country, unlike those other sorts of immigrants.” No, I don’t go for that sort of thing, and I hope that this article doesn’t encourage that kind of thinking. But you’d have to be a cold-hearted bastard to read something like this and yet still support legislation that would make this kid a felon and force him out of the country.

What’s good for the gays…

…is apparently not good for the soldiers.

As reported in this article from the New York Times, 31 states have either passed or are considering legislation that restricts demonstrations at a funeral or burial. Additionally, Congress is expected to address the issue of protests at federal cemetaries. This legislation stems largely from responses to the most recent disgusting behavior of Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Cult, I mean, Church. It seems that Phelps and his despicable cohorts got tired of spewing their virulent homophobia at the funerals of queer folks; now, they’ve taken up conducting similar demonstrations of hatred at the funerals of american soldiers who were killed in Iraq. In their truly twisted logic, soldiers are dying because of the wickedness of american society, which has apparently embraced queer folks. Funny, I didn’t get the memo letting me know that we’re no longer largely maligned and discrminated against by american society and law. Wonder how we missed that one.

So, in turn, politicians are turning towards legislation to limit the effect that these protests can have on grieving families.

“Repugnant, outrageous, despicable, do not adequately describe what I feel they do to these families,” said Representative Steve Buyer, an Indiana Republican who is a co-sponsor of a Congressional bill to regulate demonstrations at federal cemeteries. “They have a right to freedom of speech. But someone also has a right to bury a loved one in peace.”

“I haven’t seen something like this,” said David L. Hudson Jr., research attorney for the First Amendment Center, referring to the number of state legislatures reacting to the protests. “It’s just amazing. It’s an emotional issue and not something that is going to get a lot of political opposition.”

Now, don’t get me wrong – I think that what these people are doing is disgusting and, while I worry about laws that infringe upon first amendment rights to free speech, I do think that people have the right to mourn their loved ones without having to endure such harassment. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be a grieving friend or family member and to see these fuckers desecrating your loved one’s memory. Well, I’d probably feel something like Jonathan Anstey, who spoke to the Times about his experience at his friend’s funeral: “It’s hurtful and it’s taking a lot of willpower not to go down there and stomp their heads in.”

Yet still, I can’t help but think: where was all the outrage when Phelps and company were pulling the same awful bullshit at the funerals of queer people? I didn’t see much outcry (outside of the queer community, of course) when that was going on, and they’d been at it for nearly a decade before they started picketing soldiers’ funerals. There was certainly not this remarkably widespread political response. There were no vets on motorcycles circling the families and trying to shield them from the awful chanting and sign-waving, as there are at the soldiers’ funerals.

And why is that? Did those queer folks, some of whom died of AIDS, deserve to die more than the soldiers did, by virtue of their sexuality? Did their families not deserve to grieve in peace as much as the families of the soldiers? Were their memories less sacred and less deserving of dignity than those of these soldiers?

Of course, my answers to those questions are no, no, and no. But I can’t help but take away that, for many of the politicians and other people taking action now, the answers would be yes.

Support the troops: listen to them

I’ve never liked or bought the rhetoric of “supporting the troops.” I support people in the military insofar as I support the well-being of all people as a general rule. I also acknowledge that many of the troops are only in the military because it was one of the few feasible career choices that they are ever presented with, poor people and people of color especially. I also feel for those soldiers who are against the war but have no way out. However, I feel absolutely no obligation to support the troops in their professional capacity of killing people and further extending american dominance and destruction. That’s why the “support the troops: bring them home!” slogan doesn’t really speak to me; because, no, I don’t really support the troops. I am concerned about them as individuals, especially the ones who recognize that this war is wrong in every way, and I hope that they get home safe and alive and don’t continue to be fodder for the american government’s illegal wars. But that’s as far as my support goes.

Still, I can definitely go for “support the troops: bring them home” more than I can go for “support the troops, they’re working hard out there, so you’d better not talk bad about the war!” But here’s a better slogan: support the troops: listen to them. Because, according to a recent poll, the large majority of them think that they should get the hell out of Iraq, and soon.

Raising questions about Bush’s vow to keep troops in Iraq as long as they are needed, a Le Moyne College/Zogby poll showed 72 percent of U.S troops serving there think the United States should exit within the next year.

Nearly one in four said the troops should leave immediately.

One might hope that this would put and end to the whole Bush Co. line of “if you are against the war, then you must hate the soldiers!” I’m sure they won’t end that rhetoric, but hopefully now that stance will seem all the more ludicrious and hypocritical.

More Lies from BushCo

From Reuters AlertNet:

A captured al Qaeda operative who told U.S. authorities that Iraq had trained al Qaeda members to use unconventional weapons was identified as a probable liar months before the Bush administration began using his claims to make its case for war …

“Saddam’s regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements. Moreover, Baghdad is unlikely to provide assistance to a group it cannot control,” the excerpts [of a Defense Intelligence Agency document dated February 2002] said.

Add another one to the pack of lies that the Bush Administration used to send this country to war (not that many of us ever believed any of it.) That last bit is especially telling, given that Iraq and al Qaeda have so often been depicted by our government and the mainstream media as being oh-so-similar, obvious allies in a radical Islamist plot against the West. No, not quite. For all of the many problems with Hussein’s regime, Iraq was a secular state prior to the US invasion – not a fact reflected in the rhetoric of the Bush regime, other pundits, and some of the mainstream media, all of whom continuously lump Iraq, Iran, al Qaeda, the rioting youth of France, and other groups together into one great big Muslim bogey-man, by virtue of their shared religion alone.