JOHN PILGER: Guardian: why weren't there similar outcries at earlier atrocities? (GUARDIAN UK)
The world has been in ferment since September 11, but why weren't there
similar outcries at earlier atrocities?
Thursday October 4, 2001
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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WE AFFIRM THAT INJUSTICE ANYWHERE IS A THREAT TO JUSTICE EVERYWHERE!!!!
"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.