Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Shoes for Royalty

Chris Floyd deconstructs the motivation behind the shoes and the silence of the lambs.

Since his site goes down regularly due to frequent attacks, I've reproduced parts of it it here, but visit the original for the links:

...We've all had good fun with the image of George W. Bush dodging the shoes flung at him by an angry Iraqi journalist this weekend – who rightly denounced the Crawford Caligula as a "dog" and a killer of Iraqi innocents – but now, as As'ad AbuKhalil notes, a more serious question arises: what will happen to Muntathar al Zaidi, the correspondent for Baghdadiyah Television, who, alone of all the journalists Bush has seen in the past eight years, had the courage to call him the murderer that he is?

After flinging the shoes at Bush – who ducked behind the protective hand of his puppet, Iraqi PM Nouri al Maliki – Zaidi was set upon by Iraqi security forces, who dragged him into a nearby room, where his cries could be heard for several minutes, as McClatchy reports. Later, a reporter for a television station run by Maliki's party said that Zaidi had been kicked and beaten until “he was crying like a woman," the New York Times reports. He's now being held in one of the Green Zone government's notorious prisons where the local goon squads, having learned from two stern masters – the Bush Family's old protégé Saddam Hussein and Bush's very own handcrafted torture program – subject detainees to horrible abuses. Zaidi's employers, who are based in Cairo, have called for his release, and up to 100 lawyers from across the Arab world have offered to defend him.

The incident has been played down in most of the corporate American press – especially Zaidi's motivation. The New York Times noted only that he had "bad feelings about the coalition forces," but of course gave no reasons why he might have such feelings. It's the same old "motiveless malignancy" that we are told drives every critic of American power – they are just "evil," or "extreme" or "unhinged," etc.; their reactions never have the slightest thing to do with U.S. policy. Yet McClatchy, as usual, digs deeper and reports that Zaidi had been especially affected by the American bombing of the thickly populated civilian areas of Baghdad's Sadr City during one of the brutal pacification operations of the "surge" earlier this year. As Juan Cole notes:

"The frequent US bombing of civilian Iraqi cities that are already under US military occupation has been one of the most under-reported stories of the Iraq War."

It has indeed. It is virtually an un-reported story in the mainstream press. This savage air campaign (a flagrant war crime, by the way; but of course in these days of "continuity," no one cares about that) was a key component of what Barack Obama has called the "success beyond our wildest dreams" of Bush's "surge" – along with the U.S. death squad operations that Establishment court scribe Bob Woodward was allowed to reveal earlier this year. Meanwhile, that "wild success" – which engendered a sense of "triumphalism" among Bush's entourage on the trip to Baghdad, the NY Times reports – has produced such a peaceful, stable situation that Bush had to sneak into Iraq's capital city (having sneaked out of America's capital city), where he was humiliated before the entire world…. more than five full years after he proclaimed "Mission accomplished." (If this is the type of "wild success" Obama envisions for his own promised Bush-like surge in Afghanistan, then the prez-elect better prepare himself for a taste of shoe leather on one of his future visits to Kabul, as one of our commenters here astutely noted yesterday.)

...But you know what? Good American Liberals will tell you that Zaidi should be punished severely for his heinous crime...

...Whenever a liberal "of impeccable credentials" shouts "long prison sentence!" I reach for my deconstruction toolkit. First, a rhetorical question: Should Marylin Klinghoffer, of Achille Lauro fame, have gone to jail for a rather long time after she spat in the faces of the terrorists who murdered her husband? After all, no one wants to make light of or license the physical assault on any man, no matter how much he's deservedly hated. This is not how we do justice, unless we're in favor of something tending toward anarchy, or fascism....

Perlstein speaks from the gut. His insistence on a long prison sentence is visceral. He feels violated by a bit of lese majeste, a touch of desacralization, and a pinch of blasphemy. The sentiment behind it is reflexive deference to authority. Many Americans just can't shake their royalist instincts. I see it in the classroom and on campus every day. I see it in sidewalk demos -- my working definition of a royal subject is someone who demonstrates against the war on the sidewalk but takes over the whole fucking street for the Annual fire department parade. I see it in the blind worship for the military. I see it every four years when the bloke-in-chief moves into his new quarters and it's Lady Diana getting married all over again (or buried again, depending on your political affiliation). The horses, the cannons, the flybys, the pageantry, the gravitas of Tom Brokaw. When you've been brainwashed with that sort of crap all your life, it's awfully tough throwing your Rockports at Dear Leader.

That last sentence is why one of the best analysts of our foreign policy and its blowback will never reach the main$tream, and why Chris Floyd's is one of the most targeted sites for Company trolls and hackers in cyberspace.

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