Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Suddenly, There Is a Martyr

Then can a I drown an eye, unused to flow. . .

Barack Obama seemed near to a tear on speaking of "the 'heartbreaking' video of a 26-year-old Iranian woman whose last seconds of life were captured by video camera after she was shot on a Tehran street."

"'While this loss is raw and extraordinarily painful,' he said, 'we also know this: Those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history.'" So he was quoted in The New York Times.

"No iron fist is strong enough to shut off the world from bearing witness." But his iron hypocrisy is. He has quite effectively "shut off the world from bearing witness" to American crimes at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Bagram, and elsewhere.

Obama did not show anything like his emotion over Tehran when Israel took the lives of 1500 Palestinians standing up for justice and self-determination just before he took office. Indeed, he defended Israel's war crimes (as most of the world seems the assault). Many members of Congress were even more enthusiastic in their support for Israel's rampage, including some (like John McCain) who now decry Iranian government crimes in Tehran.

Obama has shown no emotion at all for the hundreds of thousands of civilians killed in an unjust, unjustified and unjustifiable American war in Iraq. No emotion for the tens of thousands of civilians dead in Afghanistan, numbers bound to grow as he expands the war there.

The most recent tragedy in Afghanistan? The deaths of some 60 people attending a funeral — killed by in American Predator drone attack. The New York Times picked up the story almost a full day after the BBC had first run it. The Times headlines the report on page A6 of the June 24 edition, but devotes only four column inches (including the standard caveats about 'nothing being confirmed') of about seventeen devoting most of the report to Pakistani efforts against specific members of the Taliban.

The New York Daily News (granted, no 'newspaper of record') splashes "Obama grieves for Iranian martyr Neda" above it's full-page headline "Death That Broke His Heart". The Daily News carries no mention of the Predator attack in Pakistan.

The Wall Street Journal, front page, proclaimed "Obama Rips Iran in Tactical Shift". On page A11, under the headline "Rival of Pakistan Taliban Chief is Assassinated", the paper devoted two paragraphs, two column inches, saying "up to 50 militants were reported killed in suspected missile strikes by U.S. pilotless drones" [emphasis mine]. Militants. Both the Times and the BBC refer to the dead as "people". Only the BBC reports that people on the ground say only five of the dead were militants.

The American media mirrors the president's responses. Outrage over Iran. Silence or actual support for Israeli attacks in Lebanon, in Gaza, in the West Bank.

If the Iranian government were to use the standards endorsed by Obama, they would ban (as indeed they have) the distribution of footage like that of suffering protesters on the grounds that it might inflame opinion against the Iranian regime. That is the 'justification' that Obama has used to ban further release of photos of American crimes at Abu Ghraib.

Is it possible Obama does not see the parallel? Is it possible that he has not seen those photos? Not one? If he has seen them, has he not been moved by the injustice of American war criminals?

1 comment:

Nana Baakan said...

Thank you for this article!! I have been saying this over and over again! The hypocrisy is breathtaking, yet there is no cry of alarm. I have become increasing disappointed in the "so-called" free press and their spin on the events in Iran. It was when I read Juan Cole's analyis, that I came to read yours. It is extremely difficult these days to get to the truth, but even harder to see the truth that is obvious. We do not have to be premier journalists if we just would pay attention to what is happening around us. Again thank you for taking the time to put this to print. Blessings, Nana