“Reverend Jackson, Let Me Speak”
Vol: 17 Issue: 23 Sunday, February 23, 2003
Last week, I asked where all the Iraqis were at during all the antiwar marches. It turns out that at least some of those who fled Saddam DID attend some of the marches. Here’s what an eyewitness to the march, Amir Taheri, had to say about how interested the marchers were in hearing from the Iraqis they claim to be helping. The account comes from Canada’s National Post.
That is significant because Canada is no friend of the war effort and no friend of the Bush administration.
“I spent part of last Saturday with the so-called “anti-war” marchers in London in the company of some Iraqi friends. Our aim had been to persuade the organizers to let at least one Iraqi voice be heard. Soon, however, it became clear the organizers were as anxious to stifle the voice of the Iraqis in exile as was Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
The Iraqis had come with placards reading “Freedom for Iraq” and “American rule, a hundred thousand times better than Takriti tyranny!”
But the tough guys who supervised the march would have none of that. Only official placards, manufactured in thousands and distributed among the “spontaneous” marchers, were allowed. These read “Bush and Blair, baby-killers,” “Not in my name,” “Freedom for Palestine” and “Indict Bush and Sharon.”
Not one placard demanded that Saddam should disarm to avoid war.
The thugs also confiscated photographs showing the tragedy of Halabja, the Kurdish town where Saddam’s forces gassed 5,000 people to death in 1988.
We managed to reach some of the stars of the show, including Reverend Jesse Jackson, the self-styled champion of American civil rights. One of our group, Salima Kazim, an Iraqi grandmother, managed to attract the reverend’s attention and told him how Saddam Hussein had murdered her three sons because they had been dissidents in the Baath Party; and how one of her grandsons had died in the war Saddam had launched against Kuwait in 1990.
“Could I have the microphone for one minute to tell the people about my life?” 78-year old Salima demanded.
The reverend was not pleased.
“Today is not about Saddam Hussein,” he snapped. “Today is about Bush and Blair and the massacre they plan in Iraq.” Salima had to beat a retreat, with all of us following, as the reverend’s goons closed in to protect his holiness.
We next spotted former film star Glenda Jackson, apparently manning a stand where “anti-war” characters could sign up to become “human shields” to protect Saddam’s military installations against American air attacks.
“These people are mad,” said Awad Nasser, one of Iraq’s most famous modernist poets. “They are actually signing up to sacrifice their lives to protect a tyrant’s death machine.”
“Are these people ignorant, or are they blinded by hatred of the United States?” Nasser the poet demanded.
The Iraqis would have had much to tell the “anti-war” marchers, had they had a chance to speak. Fadel Sultani, president of the National Association of Iraqi authors, would have told the marchers that their action would encourage Saddam to intensify his repression.
“I had a few questions for the marchers,” Sultani said. “Did they not realize that oppression, torture and massacre of innocent civilians are also forms of war? Are the anti-war marchers only against a war that would liberate Iraq, or do they also oppose the war Saddam has been waging against our people for a generation?”
Sultani could have told the peaceniks how Saddam’s henchmen killed dissident poets and writers by pushing page after page of forbidden books down their throats until they choked.
Hashem al-Iqabi, one of Iraq’s leading writers and intellectuals, had hoped the marchers would mention the fact that Saddam had driven almost four million Iraqis out of their homes and razed more than 6,000 villages to the ground.
Abdel-Majid Khoi, son of the late Grand Ayatollah Khoi, Iraq’s foremost religious leader for almost 40 years, spoke of the “deep moral pain” he feels when hearing the so-called “anti-war” discourse.
“The Iraqi nation is like a man who is kept captive and tortured by a gang of thugs,” Khoi said. “The proper moral position is to fly to help that man liberate himself and bring the torturers to book. But what we witness in the West is the opposite: support for the torturers and total contempt for the victim.”
Khoi said he would say “ahlan wasahlan” (welcome) to anyone who would liberate Iraq.
“When you are being tortured to death you are not fussy about who will save you,” he said.”
You know what scares me? The fact that this is so obvious to a nobody like me, but completely escapes the huge news gathering apparatus of ABC News’ (‘More Americans get their news from ABC than from any other source) Peter Jennings.
Khalid Kishtaini, Iraq’s most famous satirical writer was never contacted by Peter Jennings, probably because of what he might say.
If Jennings had asked the question posed by Amir Taheri, Kistaini would have posed a question in return Jennings wouldn’t be able to answer.
“Don’t these marchers know that the only march possible in Iraq under Saddam Hussein is from the prison to the firing-squad?” he asked. “The Western marchers behave as if the U.S. wanted to invade Switzerland, not Iraq under Saddam Hussein.”
So why has the world gone Saddam-happy? One could make a case that this is residue from Election 2000. Europe doesn’t claim to be anti-American, just anti-George Bush.
That the march organizers were deliberately disingenuous is beyond question. The proof is in the fact there were no expatriate Iraqis allowed to speak. There were no expatriate Iraqis allowed to march. There were no dissenting voices. That isn’t a pro Iraq, or anti Bush, or anti Democrat or pro liberal statement. It’s just a fact.
The radical fringe Democrats like Jesse Jackson failed to poison the nation regarding Election 2000, since we live here and know how elections work. And we’ve grown used to the difference between reality and partisan reality.
But they’ve done an effective job of poisoning the rest of the world. The average man on the street in Europe reads quotes from American politicians saying George Bush just wants Iraqi oil, why would he doubt it was true?
When marches are conducted by large groups of Americans carrying signs saying things like “Bush-Blair, Baby-killers”, why would he doubt it?
Especially when a sixth of the planet already has Osama bin-Laden and radical clerics exhorting them from the pulpit to hate America and to hate George Bush.
This isn’t a blind defense of George Bush. It’s bigger than that.
If Al Gore were president, it would still be wrong to aid and abet the enemy of your country by trashing the commander-in-chief.
The peaceniks might say Saddam isn’t THEIR enemy, but it is nations that make that determination.
Individuals don’t have that luxury.
That’s what treason laws are for.