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2888JOHN PILGER: Guardian: why weren't there similar outcries at earlier atrocities? (GUARDIAN UK)

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  • Islamic News and Information Network
    Oct 4 6:01 AM
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      The world has been in ferment since September 11, but why weren't there
      similar outcries at earlier atrocities?

      John Pilger
      Thursday October 4, 2001
      The Guardian


      This week saw the end of an exhibition I helped put on at the Barbican in
      London, devoted to photo-journalism that makes sense of terrible events.
      Brilliant, subversive pictures from Vietnam show the systematic rape of a
      country with weapons designed to spread terror. The exhibition ranged from
      Hiroshima to two final, haunting images of sisters, aged 10 and 12, their
      bodies engraved in the rubble of the Iraqi city of Basra, where American
      missiles destroyed their street two years ago: part of a current
      Anglo-American bombing campaign that is almost never reported.
      Since the outrages in America on September 11, the exhibition has been
      packed, mostly with young people. Many accused the media and politicians
      of misrepresenting public opinion and of obscuring the reasons behind the
      fanaticism of the attackers. For them, the most telling pictures are of
      "unworthy victims". Let me explain. The 6,000 people who died in America
      on September 11 are worthy victims: that is, they are worthy of our honour
      and a relentless pursuit of justice, which is right. In contrast, the
      6,000 people who die every month in Iraq, the victims of a medieval siege
      devised and imposed by Washington and Whitehall, are, like the little
      sisters bombed to death in their sleep in Basra, unworthy victims -
      unworthy of even acknowledgement in the "civilised" west.

      Ten years ago, when 200,000 Iraqis died during and immediately after the
      slaughter known as the Gulf war, the scale of this massacre was never
      allowed to enter public consciousness in the west. Many were buried alive
      at night by armoured American snowploughs and murdered while retreating.
      Colin Powell, then US military chief, who 22 years earlier was assigned to
      cover up the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and is currently being elevated to
      hero status in the western media, said: "It's really not numbers I'm
      terribly interested in."

      An American letter writer to the Guardian last week, in admonishing the
      writer Arundhati Roy for producing a "laundry list" of American terror
      around the world, revealed how the blinkered think. The lives of millions
      of people extinguished as a consequence of American policies, be they
      Iraqis or Palestinians, Timorese or Congolese, belong not in our living
      memory, but on a "list". Apply that dismissive abstraction to the
      Holocaust, and imagine the profanity.

      The job of disassociating the September 11 atrocities from the source of
      half a century of American crusades, economic wars and homicidal
      adventures, is understandably urgent. For Bush and Blair to "wage war
      against terrorism", assaulting countries, killing innocents and creating
      famine, international law must be set aside and a monomania must take over
      politics and the "free" media. Fortunately public opinion is not yet fully
      Murdochised and is already uneasy and suspicious; 60% oppose massive
      bombing, says an Observer poll. And the more Blair, our little Lord
      Palmerston, opens his mouth on the subject the more suspicions will grow
      and the crusaders' contortions of intellect and morality will show. When
      Blair tells David Frost that his war plans are aimed at "the people who
      gave [the terrorists] the weapons", can he mean we are about to attack
      America? For it was mostly America that destroyed a moderate regime in
      Afghanistan and created a fanatical one.

      On the day of the twin towers attack, an arms fair, selling weapons of
      terror to assorted tyrants and human rights abusers, opened in London's
      Docklands with the backing of the Blair government. Now Bush and Blair
      have created what the UN calls "the world's worst humanitarian crisis",
      with up to 7m people facing starvation. The initial American reaction was
      to demand that Pakistan stop supplying food to the starving who, of
      course, fail to qualify as worthy victims.

      The bombing intelligentsia (the New Humanitarians, as Edward Herman calls
      them) are doing their bit, blaming September 11 on "an evil hatred of
      modernity" and something called "apocalyptic nihilism". There are no
      reasons why; the Barbican pictures are fake. Aside from a few "errors",
      Anglo-American actions are redeemed, and those who produce the "laundry
      list" of a blood-soaked historical record are "anti American", which
      apparently is similar to the "anti-semitism" of those who dare to point
      out the atrocious activities of the Israeli state.

      Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez lost their son Greg in the World Trade
      Centre. They said this: "We read enough of the news to sense that our
      government is heading in the direction of violent revenge, with the
      prospect of sons, daughters, parents, friends in distant lands dying,
      suffering, and nursing further grievances against us. It is not the way to
      go... not in our son's name."


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      "First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was
      not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not
      speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the
      Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for
      me, and there was no one left to speak for me." - Pastor Martin Niemoller
      regarding the Nazi reign.