Friday, August 31, 2007

Iraq: The Legacy of Oppression and the Legitimacy of Resistance

We sit here 8000 miles away with our luxuries of electricity and water, while Iraqis suffer in the desert heat with no relief, and we tell them they are disorganized. This is fiddling while Iraq burns. People are dying; the question is moot.

We are not fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq; we are slaughtering people's children. We went in to liberate Iraqis from a ruthless dictator we imposed upon them who allegedly killed 300,000 during his 30 year reign of terror. We’ve accomplished more than triple that in a fraction of the time.

If ever there were legitimate resistance to illegal occupation, it is in Iraq.
And do you know what Iraqis are saying? I don't speak Arabic, but I can translate for you. They're saying, "Get out!" They're saying, "NO way you're staying for 60 years." They're saying, "Get your oil the old-fashioned way - pay for it!" And why are they saying this? Because they have a dignity and self-respect rooted in 7000 years of civilization.

Iraq is the center of Arab nationalism. Actually, this is what my father says, and I would argue that my father is the center of Arab nationalism. Modern-day Iraqis are the descendents of ancients who devised the first system of writing, the 24-hour day, the bases of mathematics, law, science and medicine. Once corrupt American corporations, the U.S. military, and its death squads, prisons, and bombings are out of the picture, true reconstruction by Iraqis can and will begin.

Perhaps we don't embrace the Iraqi resistance because its fighters are killing American soldiers. What other choice have we given them? From Vietnam to Lebanon to Somalia to Iraq, we have taught our victims around the world that the only way to effect a change in American foreign policy is to spill American blood.

Thousands died in Chile during the CIA led coup on Sept. 11th, 1973. But we only remember 3000 Americans who died on the 28th anniversary of that massacre. Grenadans in 1983 and Panamanians in 1989 were buried in mass graves by the thousands after the U.S. assaults, but the stories of these victims go untold. Between 1,000 and 10,000 Somalis were killed when our humanitarian mission in 1993 turned into military aggression. (We will never know the exact number of our innocent victims, again because of mass graves.) But we left Somalia because 19 Americans fell victim to their system and were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. Time and again, it doesn't matter how many "others" die. The outrage comes when the victims are American.

Martin Luther King Jr. said “silence is betrayal.” In these times, remaining silent on our responsibility to the world and its future is criminal. And in light of our complicity in the supreme crimes against humanity in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ongoing violations of the U.N. Charter and international law, how dare any American criticize the actions of legitimate resistance to illegal occupation? How dare we condemn anyone else as “violent” or “disorganized?” Our so-called “enemies” in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, our other colonies around the world - and our inner cities here at home-are struggling against the oppressive hand of empire, demanding respect for their humanity. They are labeled “insurgents” or “terrorists” for resisting rape and pillage by the white establishment, but they are our brothers and sisters in the struggle for justice.

Dr. Dahlia Wasfi is a speaker and activist. Born in the United States to an American Jewish mother and an Iraqi Muslim father, she lived in Iraq as a child, returning to the U.S. at age 5. Read the whole speech here. It's powerful words, especially in light of this.

1 comment:

Godammitkitty said...

That is an excellent speech--thanks so much for posting it, RJ!