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Abu Ghraib and the Hebdo Cartoons

Recently I’d bumped into this documentary produced by Javed Khan Dawlatzai, featuring commentary by former ACLU attorney Amrit Singh, now a human rights lawyer for the National Security and Counterterrorism program at the Open Society Justice Initiative. It includes (at the time) new photos and short videos of torture inside Abu Ghraib prison. The web page that featured it included articles by one of my all-time favorite journalists, Seymour Hersh. More on that later.

For now, I’ll simply invite you to spend thirty-two hideous minutes watching more of what is often said to be: “in our names”, and then you might see more clearly why I’ll present a brief thesis about those ‘satirical cartoons’.



If you need to take breaks from the evil committed upon so many Muslims by those ‘few bad apples’, I’ll understand, as it was so for me. By my third viewing, the impact was only slightly lessened; some images will remain seared into our minds forever, as they should be for any human being with a conscience and moral compass.

(Warning: you may not want to read the comments below the video on youtube; it really brought the snakes out from under their rocks.)


You will hear interviews with alleged ‘survivors’ of Abu Ghraib, and hear from family members, including the man who was in the iconic photo, hooded, arms held away from his body, with wires attached to batteries or some other form of electricity:

Ali Shallal al-Qaisi (Haj Ali): “It just felt my eyes were popping out. Am I a light bulb? A human being?

From the daughter of a man murdered at the prison within five hours of his ‘arrest’: “They say Muslims are the terrorists. These are the terrorists”, while pointing at photographic evidence of sexual and other sadistic torture evidence.

Haj Ali again: “When a man’s honor is violated before his eyes…or when he refuses sexual intercourse with a female soldier…and then she straps on a dildo and rapes him…what do you expect from that man?

Amrit Singh is no doubt glad that she left the ACLU before reading the executive director’s arcane and twisted reasoning behind Romero’s NYTimes op-edPardon Bush and Those Who Tortured’. Yes, their organization is still fighting for the release of many more photos and videos, and the buzz is that more may be released soon if Judge Hellerstein has anything to say about it. ‘Published’ is a whole different matter, of course.

Sy Hersh said that there are far worse than we might even begin to imagine; has bolded some of his quotes; again, clicking the link may bring even more terrible nightmares.

It wasn’t until having partaken of all of this that I chose to search out people who were resisting the ‘Je suis Charlie’ rubbish, especially given that so many news cycles were being eaten up by HebdoHebdoHebdo news, rallies, commentary denouncing extremist Muslims, insanely ubiquitous obligatory op-eds online, not to mention #CharlieHebdo.

Now I’d seen a few people I respected Tweet some of the funnies’, saying to the effect: “If you don’t Tweet these cartoons, then you don’t believe in Free Speech”.

Yes, I’d glanced at some, but I hadn’t really seen them, if you follow my drift. But once I had, it seemed that some of the images so closely paralleled the impetus behind the vulgar, morbid, and Islamaphobic degradation and sexual humiliation of Muslin beliefs that I wanted to wretch.

Yes, I’ll also give the obligatory “The cartoons should not have led to killing, by any means” sentence; killing is just plain wrong and immoral. But what the cartoons allowed me to see was that they are (wittlingly or not) part and parcel of the White Supremacist Empire’s endless War on Terror, and that they are not satirical, but sadistic. Satire, as we should be aware, is to be aimed either at oneself in jest, or more meaningfully, at those in power with whom we heartily disagree, and whose power we wish to diminish with our satirical lampooning.

Muslims do not qualify, and arguably have been the most marginalized, poor, castigated, occupied, colonized, and vilified, shock-and-awed, drone assassinated, CIA regime-changed people on the planet by the US Empire and its Western client states ever over the past hundred years or more.

No, Bill Maher: whining ““Why are they so touchy? How come those backward Muslims can’t separate their religion from politics?” {more}

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