Khan: 10 Years After the War in Iraq, The Anti-War Movement is Virtually Dead

Freelance Journalist Nida Khan

Freelance Journalist Nida Khan

Last week marked the official 10-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. Leading up to the commemoration of this bloody and costly engagement, major networks, newspapers and online outlets acknowledged the decade milestone with extensive coverage. They parsed the many ways in which the Bush administration misled everyone and orchestrated a brazen attack on a sovereign nation. And they criticized the media’s own fallacy in helping to sell the war to the American people. But out of all of the supposed lessons learned and promises to rectify our ways going forward, it’s amazing just how little we have changed. In some sort of twisted irony, many of the most vocal opponents of the Iraq war are virtually silent at this very moment when we are actively entrenched and engaged in more areas of the world than possibly ever before. An estimated 6 million people demonstrated against the war in Iraq (according to Al Jazeera). Viewing old footage of these protests, one thing became vividly evident: 10 years later, any semblance of an anti-war movement has been all but crushed.

Michael Mooregreen-225“As Americans, now whenever we’re told anything, somebody comes on and says there’s reports that maybe this and maybe that, we have to have the most skeptical, critical eye and ear to what we’re being told,” said filmmaker Michael Moore last Tuesday on ‘Piers Morgan Tonight’. Responding to reports of alleged chemical weapons use in Syria, and Ahmadinejad’s potential nuclear capabilities in Iran, Moore emphatically stated that our government – ‘the real government’ as he put it (Wall St., banks, the military) – hasn’t earned a right to be trusted. He went so far as to say that unless Ahmadinejad walks in the room with a bomb in his hand and shows it to him, he won’t believe anything he’s told about Iran. Watching Moore call out our rush to judgment (and subsequent action) around the world, it became blatantly obvious how rare his dissent actually is. In all the hoopla of ‘how could we let this happen’ in regards to Iraq 10 years ago, hardly anyone had the backbone to say that we’re still falling for the same playbook today save for one Michael Moore and a few others that have just been pushed to the margins.

Regardless of what your own personal views may be on Qaddafi (Gaddafi), Ahmadinejad, Abbas or the latest ‘bad guy’ on our list, the fact remains that we are still projecting them through a specific lens that gets drummed up in our mass media without appropriate context or complete information from all angles. And what follows is our involvement in yet another foreign independent country without adequate debate back home. Just because we may now align ourselves with a few other allies when doing so, does that make our actions really any less different than what happened with Iraq? And let’s put aside the notion of dictators that
need to be toppled for a moment and examine the use of weaponry in a host of other nations. Actively utilizing the predator drone program in Somalia, Yemen,

Mali, Afghanistan, Pakistan and numerous other countries, we are still dropping bombs that undoubtedly kill innocent civilians in the process. And yet, where’s the
objection from those that demonstrated against Iraq?

Medea Benjamin

Whenever the concept of drones is addressed in our common discourse, a majority almost instantaneously defend its use because it requires less forces on the ground, and less loss of American lives. Pressing buttons, dropping bombs and watching explosions on a screen as if it were some sort of video game, the individuals operating drones in Nevada or elsewhere are not only further desensitized to the notion of taking lives, but so are the rest of us. No longer do we have to protest the lack of images of coffins with dead U.S. soldiers – we don’t even consider the use of drones an act of war. Under the same open-ended guise of ‘fighting terrorism’, the drone program is fundamentally unchecked from independent entities, and functions pretty much without accountability because it remains a covert process (though there’s talk to move it from CIA control, but we have yet to see). It wasn’t until Congressman Rand Paul’s recent filibuster of Brennan’s confirmation that many Americans likely heard about drones for the first time – and many probably still haven’t. The silence, from all sides, has been quite deafening.

Rallies and marches against the war in Vietnam played an intricate role in the larger struggle for civil rights in this country. While we may be losing less troops today of course (which is a plus), modern warfare still results in the murder of innocents. Every time a supposed target is hit by a drone, civilians – often times women and children – are killed simultaneously and many others permanently wounded. And that goes for every bomb dropped, every time, in every town, in every village, in every city, in every country. But when was the last time we saw 6 million protest that? Or even a million? For that matter, when was the last time we saw any sort of massive anti-war protest anywhere? Have we become such a complacent society that out of sight really has translated into out of mind? Or have we become neutralized because the dynamics of warfare have changed? Any which way you look at it, it’s pretty shocking.

With the exception of a few journalists like Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill that have been discussing drones at length for some time now, the vast majority of our press has been silent (minus recent Rand Paul coverage). Instead, we have media that continues to tell us that the drone program is effective in defeating terrorism and getting the bad guys. Rather than questioning a policy as journalists should do, they have been selling it for years – much in the same fashion that the Iraq war was sold to us 10 years ago. In all the focus on the anniversary of the invasion, never once did pundits and journos from either side of the aisle highlight the fact that we are repeating the same mishaps again, right now, in the present. And in discussions of the media’s complacency in selling the war, how often did we hear an acknowledgment of its current complacency in selling any of our present conflicts?

Guess people will wait to talk about today’s failures another 10 years from now.

written by Nida Khan follow her on twitter at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPqpV9olIlw

If Rappers take Heat for Inflammatory Words Why Can’t Sarah Palin?

I have a few questions that have been nagging me about all the issues falling out around this past weekend’s tragedy in Tucson?

First, there’s been a lot of talk about how accused Tucson shooter Jared Lee Loughner is mentally unstable, crazed and out of his mind. People are looking at his smiling/ smirking mug shot  and concluding that only a genuine psychopath would display such demeanor after killing 6 people in cold blood and injuring 14 more.

Personally I don’t know.. I never been around anyone who’s killed 6 people so I have no idea how they would act. I would imagine if it was me I’d be remorseful, but when I watch folks like Fox News commentator Glenn Beck telling us he wants to kill filmmaker Michael Moore or  Bill O’Reilly saying he thinks Washington Post columnist Dan Milbank should be decapitated ,they seem to be jovial. They seem to relish in the idea of ending someone’s life.

Is that the mindset of a violent person? Are they all smiles? Is that why Loughner was smiling?

Accused Tucson Massacre killer Jared Lee Loughner smirking

When I heard former governor Sarah Palin unapologetically use gun rhetoric in describing how she wanted to eliminate her political opponents, she seemed pretty gleeful even after receiving complaints. One of those opponents who voiced concern was shooting victim Gabrielle Gifford, but Palin paid her no mind. She never stopped smiling.

Noting that a smiling Jared Lee Loughner indicates craziness, my question is; ‘Just how crazy is he?’

Is he too crazed to hold a political opinion? Does he know the difference between a socialist and a communist? Is he discerning the difference between a commentary from MSNBC host Keith Obermann and one by radio hosts Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage?

Perhaps a mentally unstable  Loughner reacted and followed the leads of the loudest  most ruckus voices around. After all, all the tough talk about ‘don’t retreat and reload’ is not hidden. It’s pretty much mainstream.Such rhetoric along with footage of angry Tea Party folks showing up to rallies with guns threatening to take their country back are shown on the highest rated news stations like Fox. Inflammatory rhetoric expressing violence comes off the mouths of  some of the country’s most visible hosts, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.

In a staunchly conservative state like Arizona it’s almost impossible to escape a steady of diet these loud, in your face personalities and their violent rhetoric. Whether he leaned to the left or to the right, there’s no doubt  he was exposed right-wing, Fox News-like pundits   routinely denounce civility in both words and actions. There’s no doubt in mind that had an influence.

580 Freeway Shooter claims he was inspired by Glenn Beck

Now some folks reading are thinking what I’m saying is a bit far-fetched. The argument they’ll try to put forth is it’s not about the speaker it’s about the listener. They’ll insist that the person on the receiving end of a political tirade needs to be RESPONSIBLE for their actions. In other words,  a pundit like Sarah Palin is not responsible for the way someone reacts to her public utterings?

A guy like Glenn Beck who fantasized about killing Michael Moore and crusaded against the Tides Foundation is in no way responsible for the near deadly actions of would be mass murderer Byron Williams, the 580 Freeway shooter who went toe to toe with police while en route to the Tide headquarters where he planned to lay in wait?

I asked these questions because some of the same people defending this violent rhetoric from political pundits  and politicians weren’t too kind when it came to rap artists who invoked violent imagery to make a political point.

The most famous among these is Public Enemy who 2o years ago did the song ‘By the Time I Get to Arizona‘.  Here, they wanted to bring attention to the fact that there were certain politicians who were refusing to allow the state to recognize the Dr Martin Luther King holiday, so they did a song that spoke to it.

Chuck D

In the accompanying video, the group  showed black and white re-enactments of Civil Rights demonstrations which were juxtaposed with images of Chuck D and his armed crew the heading to the office of one of the Senators opposed to the holiday where they handed him a box of poisoned chocolates. As the video ends we see Chuck D blowing up the car of an unnamed elected official.

Needless to say folks went nuts over the video. Chuck D and Public Enemy were accused of fostering violence with some critics stating that there would be blood on their hands if anyone resorted to violence as a result of this video.

Chuck pointed out it was basically political theater, but very few in the halls of power were trying to hear that. As far as they were concerned Public Enemy had crossed the line.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrFOb_f7ubw

Rudy Giuliani

Another group that caught heat was Queens based group Screwball who had an issue with then Mayor Rudy Giuliani. In ’99 around the time that police shot and killed an unarmed Amadu Diallo 41 times, the group  did a song called ‘Who Shot Rudy?’ The song was widely cheered and accepted throughout many of NY’s Black communities where residents were at odds with the police. Many in the establishment including the Mayor weren’t happy. The group got a visit from NYPD who confiscated their recording equipment and CDs. I recall the outrage that was voiced toward the group..

‘How dare they call for the shooting of a public official ‘? , is what critics howled.

Like PE Screwball was told there would be blood on their hands should any violence go down.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5b-gj0Amgc

We can list at least a dozen more examples where artists have caught heat over what was described as troubling politicized rhetoric. The list includes Sista Souljah who got a harsh rebuke from then president candidate Bill Clinton when she made racially charged remarks around the Rodney King riots. Clinton went after a Souljah as a way to prove to skittish voters he could stand up to Black leaders.  When he heard that Jackson had invited Souljah to speak at his Rainbow Push convention, he dropped his harsh critic which is now known as Sista Souljah Moment.

Bay Area rapper Paris had his album delayed and he got a visit from the Secret Service when he released a song called ‘Bush Killa‘ which was featured on the album ‘Sleeping With the Enemy’. The track starts off with the mock assassination of President George Bush Sr . That caught folks attention. But what really made people angry and perhaps triggered the Secret Service visit was the inner sleeve album cover that showed Paris in a knit cap holding a rifle ready to shoot the President.

Paris described the song as a ‘revenge fantasy‘ and political art. All conversations along these lines went out the window as political pundits soundly rejected the political rapper accusing him of having gone too far.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhCD485TY-A

In June of 2001, Boots Riley and his group the Coup released an album called Party Music where they had the World Trade exploding. Boots explained that he wanted to show a symbolism of capitalism being destroyed to underscore the political content of his album. It was no different then the video released a few years prior  during the East-West Coast Battles where Snoop Dogg was depicted knocking down a building that characterized the NY skyline. It was symbolic.

When the 9-11 attacks took place, the Coup, who weren’t on too many people’s political hit list, suddenly found themselves under the microscope. The symbolism was taken seriously in quite a few circles. Some wanted to know if this album cover would encourage other acts of terrorism. Words like Unpatriotic and Treasonous were bantered about when referring to a group that had been consistent with their political views for almost a 10 years before 9-11.

One of the more infamous rap songs where an artist came under fire for ‘influencing’ the public into destructive action was Ice Cube‘s ‘Black Korea‘ . This was a racially charged song where Cube targets Korean merchants in the hood for not liking Black people.

Fresh in his mind was the shooting death of 15 year-old Latasha Harlins,a Black girl who was killed by a Korean grocer. It sparked racial tension between Blacks and Koreans in LA and the Black Korea took things to new heights.

Ice Cube

When the Rodney King riots occurred, many Korean merchants were on the receiving end of anger being expressed. Cube was caught in the firestorm and blamed for helping bring harm to innocent people.

Cube defended the song as being a reflection of the political and racial climate at the time. Many others including quite a few political types though Cube was irresponsible with his words.

The point being expressed by citing these examples is that law enforcement and many of these political pundits when on the receiving end of harsh words no longer wanna uphold the ‘sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ adage . Suddenly we’re not having conversations about listeners being responsible. Sudeenly we’re’ concerned about the influence of the artist.

Is the GOP and Right wing trying to have it both ways?

I guess if we had time and space we could have a lengthy discussion about the war around cop killer type songs. Numerous artists ranging from Ice T to NWA and Ice Cube to Mac Dre to 2Pac have all faced not just a firestorm of criticisms but saw their songs banned, concert venues stipulate they could not perform their respective songs, lawsuits, a stinging letter from the FBI, labels dropping them etc. The list is long.

From where I sit, if everyone from the FBI on down to law and order politicos feel that a rapper and his video have undue influence on the public then the same rule applies to these right-wing talk show hosts and politicians like Sarah Palin.  Glenn beck himself said it best.. He’s an entertainer. Sarah palin says she uses colorful rhetoric to appeal to folks.

Well if they’re entertainers and choosing words to ‘appeal’ to folks why can’t the same criticism and censoring actions that that Ice Cube and other rappers had to endure not apply to Sarah Palin and her gun totting rhetoric.  What’s good for the geese is good for the gander.Right?

something to ponder-

Davey D

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Michael Moore: Dear Government of Sweden

Dear Swedish Government:

Hi there — or as you all say, Hallå! You know, all of us here in the U.S. love your country. Your Volvos, your meatballs, your hard-to-put-together furniture — we can’t get enough!

There’s just one thing that bothers me — why has Amnesty International, in a special report, declared that Sweden refuses to deal with the very real tragedy of rape? In fact, they say that all over Scandinavia, including in your country, rapists “enjoy impunity.” And the United Nations, the EU and Swedish human rights groups have come to the same conclusion: Sweden just doesn’t take sexual assault against women seriously. How else do you explain these statistics from Katrin Axelsson of Women Against Rape:

** Sweden has the HIGHEST per capita number of reported rapes in Europe.

** This number of rapes has quadrupled in the last 20 years.

** The conviction rates? They have steadily DECREASED.

Axelsson says: “On April 23rd of this year, Carina Hägg and Nalin Pekgul (respectively MP and chairwoman of Social Democratic Women in Sweden) wrote in the Göteborgs [newspaper] that ‘up to 90% of all reported rapes [in Sweden] never get to court.'”

Let me say that again: nine out of ten times, when women report they have been raped, you never even bother to start legal proceedings. No wonder that, according to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, it is now statistically more likely that someone in Sweden will be sexually assaulted than that they will be robbed.

Message to rapists? Sweden loves you!

So imagine our surprise when all of a sudden you decided to go after one Julian Assange on sexual assault charges. Well, sort of: first you charged him. Then after investigating it, you dropped the most serious charges and rescinded the arrest warrant.

Then a conservative MP put pressure on you and, lo and behold, you did a 180 and reopened the Assange investigation. Except you still didn’t charge him with anything. You just wanted him for “questioning.” So you — you who have sat by and let thousands of Swedish women be raped while letting their rapists go scott-free — you decided it was now time to crack down on one man — the one man the American government wants arrested, jailed or (depending on which politician or pundit you listen to) executed. You just happened to go after him, on one possible “count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape (third degree).” And while thousands of Swedish rapists roam free, you instigated a huge international manhunt on Interpol for this Julian Assange!

What anti-rape crusaders you’ve become, Swedish government! Women in Sweden must suddenly feel safer?

Well, not really. Actually, many see right through you. They know what these “non-charge charges” are really about. And they know that you are cynically and disgustingly using the real and everyday threat that exists against women everywhere to help further the American government’s interest in silencing the work of WikiLeaks.

I don’t pretend to know what happened between Mr. Assange and the two women complainants (all I know is what I’ve heard in the media, so I’m as confused as the next person). And I’m sorry if I’ve jumped to any unnecessary or wrong-headed conclusions in my efforts to state a very core American value: All people are absolutely innocent until proven otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. I strongly believe every accusation of sexual assault must be investigated vigorously. There is nothing wrong with your police wanting to question Mr. Assange about these allegations, and while I understand why he seemed to go into hiding (people tend to do that when threatened with assassination), he nonetheless should answer the police’s questions. He should also submit to the STD testing the alleged victims have requested. I believe Sweden and the UK have a treaty and a means for you to send your investigators to London so they can question Mr. Assange where he is under house arrest while out on bail.

But that really wouldn’t be like you would it, to go all the way to another country to pursue a suspect for sexual assault when you can’t even bring yourselves to make it down to the street to your own courthouse to go after the scores of reported rapists in your country. That you, Sweden, have chosen to rarely do that in the past, is why this whole thing stinks to the high heavens.

And let’s not forget this one final point from Women Against Rape’s Katrin Axelsson:

“There is a long tradition of the use of rape and sexual assault for political agendas that have nothing to do with women’s safety. In the south of the US, the lynching of black men was often justified on grounds that they had raped or even looked at a white woman. Women don’t take kindly to our demand for safety being misused, while rape continues to be neglected at best or protected at worst.”

This tactic of using a rape charge to go after minorities or troublemakers, guilty or innocent — while turning a blind eye to clear crimes of rape the rest of the time — is what I fear is happening here. I want to make sure that good people not remain silent and that you, Sweden, will not succeed if in fact you are in cahoots with corrupt governments such as ours.

Last week Naomi Klein wrote: “Rape is being used in the Assange prosecution in the same way that ‘women’s freedom’ was used to invade Afghanistan. Wake up!”

I agree.

Unless you have the evidence (and it seems if you did you would have issued an arrest warrant by now), drop the extradition attempt and get to work doing the job you’ve so far refused to do: Protecting the women of Sweden.

Yours,
Michael Moore

http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/dear-government-of-sweden