Friday, September 17, 2004

American actions reflect old Soviet styles in new Gulag, 9-17-04 AAMS

American actions reflect old Soviet styles in New Gulag
Arab American Media Services/Permission granted to reprint
By Ray Hanania

I grew up in an American that once had powerful values. Today, many of those values have lost their luster.

I remember reading the Gulag Archipelago and about its author and most famous guest, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, denounced by the Soviets as a "terrorist."

Today, the Soviet Gulag has been replaced by an American Gulag. It's not as bad, but it's close, holding thousands of political prisoners falsely accused of terrorism and denied the right of self-defense.

In this new Gulag, "Solzhenitsyns" and "Sharanskys" have been replaced by "Salehs" and "Arnauts." These are Arab Americans persecuted for political beliefs who face trumped-up, false charges of terrorism.

Maybe Americans have tired of championing civil rights. When it comes to rights of these new dissidents, Americans seem uncaring.

Does it bother us that American soldiers kill civilians or journalists? When the Soviets did it, we marched, protested and railed against the Soviet beast!

Recently, a reporter for the Arabic language satellite station, al-Arabiya, was killed by American forces in Iraq. His death was barely covered in the US. American officials brushed it off as "collateral damage." Few reported the other side of the story that tells a more damning tale of possible American war crimes.

The reporter, Mazen Tomeizi, was killed after an American skirmish with Iraqi insurgents ended. A Bradley armored vehicle was burned and two other American helicopters were crippled nearby.

As Tomeizi was doing his "stand-up report" in front of the Bradley, American helicopters fired several missiles killing him and 13 other Iraqi civilians including a young Iraqi girl. American soldiers insisted they were merely returning fire.

It reminded me of how Israeli forces fire missiles from helicopters into Palestinian villages killing civilian targets.

But the truth seems otherwise. Other Middle East media, including al-Arabiya, show Tomeizi being blown to bits while doing what American TV reporters call the "scene wrap." His blood splattered on the TV camera lens as he was being filmed.

It's gruesome. But the video taken before the killing shows no evidence that Americans were being fired on at all and the skirmish had long ended.

Most Americans haven't seen any of this, of course. It's prohibited by the new American Gulag. The public frowns on truth that implicates them in crimes, so American reporters seem pressured only to report permissible truth.

Many Arabs believe that American forces show a total disregard for the lives of Arabs and Arab journalists.

Americans don't like Arabs. I don't believe Tomeizi's killing was accidental. It may have to do with the fact that he was reporting in front of a burning Bradley, which symbolized how poorly America's war in Iraqi is going.

The fact that he happens to be Palestinian only adds volume to the disregard for his death.

It's a trait the American Gulag adopted from Soviet practices we once vilified.

The vast majority of the Soviet dissidents were Jews. Most of the American dissidents and political prisoners are Arab. American's hate Arabs in much the same way that many Russians hated Jews, forcing them to flee.

Some say "hate" is too strong a word. I disagree. Hate allows normal people to justify the unjustifiable.

Hating Arab Americans makes it easy to abuse them. Hate means we can ignore atrocities committed in our name by our soldiers.

That's the principle of the new American Gulag. We didn't invent. We just find it convenient.

# # #

No comments: