Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Black Spot on your Consciousness

Just read a lucid little summation of why the US should leave Iraq ASAP. by historian Howard Zinn.

Elections are approaching in Iraq, if you aren't paying attention, with a concomitant increase in violence. Reading on Riverbend's blog that there hasn't been water in the pipes for six days in Baghdad -- that conditions for Iraqis are getting worse than ever before.

Lately Iraq is like a small black spot in my consciousness. The more one focuses on it, I've discovered, the bigger and blacker the spot gets. ...My Brazilian student got sooooo upset during the Abu Ghraib material I brought into my ESL class today that I actually had to go try to say good things about the USA to placate him. I generally take antiAmericanism as a given from Koreans -- the military bases in Korea have a host of horror stories attached to them -- and I've seen Japanese go both ways -- some can be quite pro-American, usually in a very naive, Japanese-conformist kinda way -- but I've never encountered anyone from South America who felt this strongly about the US. It was almost enough to make me want to rethink the material -- I want to raise my students' consciousness, not encourage them in hatred.

By the way, in looking for one of the links above, I stumbled across a couple of heartbreaking photographs on someone's site -- of a young Iraqi girl crying after her parents had been murdered by US soldiers. These pics are quite upsetting, so consider your mood before clicking the link. I wonder if this is the episode that Nicholson Baker wrote about in Checkpoint?

Enough of the black spot, for now.

Post-script: Guantanamo "torture" tactics, targeting sexuality and Islamic values re: sex, detailed here. Excerpt below, in case the link eventually goes dead:

His female interrogator decided that she needed to turn up the heat," Saar
writes, saying she repeatedly asked the detainee who had sent him to Arizona,
telling him he could "cooperate" or "have no hope whatsoever of ever leaving
this place or talking to a lawyer.'"
The man closed his eyes and began to
pray, Saar writes.
The female interrogator wanted to "break him," Saar adds,
describing how she removed her uniform top to expose a tight-fitting T-shirt and
began taunting the detainee, touching her breasts, rubbing them against the
prisoner's back and commenting on his apparent erection.
The detainee looked
up and spat in her face, the manuscript recounts.
The interrogator left the
room to ask a Muslim linguist how she could break the prisoner's reliance on
God. The linguist told her to tell the detainee that she was menstruating, touch
him, then make sure to turn off the water in his cell so he couldn't wash.
Strict interpretation of Islamic law forbids physical contact with women
other than a man's wife or family, and with any menstruating women, who are
considered unclean.
"The concept was to make the detainee feel that after
talking to her he was unclean and was unable to go before his God in prayer and
gain strength," says the draft, stamped "Secret."

The interrogator
used ink from a red pen to fool the detainee, Saar writes.
"She then started
to place her hands in her pants as she walked behind the detainee," he says. "As
she circled around him he could see that she was taking her hand out of her
pants. When it became visible the detainee saw what appeared to be red blood on
her hand. She said, 'Who sent you to Arizona?' He then glared at her with a
piercing look of hatred.

No comments: