Afghanistan: Selective Outrage And Sob-Stories
Recently Glenn Greenwald, American lawyer and columnist, examined in brevity the issue of how the motives for the “rogue soldier” accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in Kandahar, Afghanistan are discussed by the mainstream Western media:
“Here’s a summary of the Western media discussion of what motivated U.S. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales to allegedly kill 16 Afghans, including 9 children: he was drunk, he was experiencing financial stress, he was passed over for a promotion, he had a traumatic brain injury, he had marital problems, he suffered from the stresses of four tours of duty, he “saw his buddy’s leg blown off the day before the massacre,” etc.
Here’s a summary of the Western media discussion of what motivates Muslims to kill Americans: they are primitive, fanatically religious, hateful Terrorists.
Even when Muslims who engage in such acts toward Americans clearly and repeatedly explain that they did it in response to American acts of domination, aggression, violence and civilian-killing in their countries, and even when the violence is confined to soldiers who are part of a foreign army that has invaded and occupied their country, the only cognizable motive is one of primitive, hateful evil. It is an act of Evil Terrorism, and that is all there is to say about it.”
Greenwald explains quite candidly that there is undeniable hypocrisy present in the canvasing of the most recent massacre of civilians in Afghanistan; we find that the general public is more than happy to give the accused killer a break, that with Staff Sgt. Roberts they are unabashedly open and understanding. There is now a steady barrage of opinion pieces delving deeper and deeper into the seemingly unending assortment of woes U.S. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was allegedly juggling; one can almost image the columnists patting the Bales on the back at the closing of their articles, a soothing “there, there Robert, it’s ok” being lightly whispered into his ear.
The mainstream media networks, from the most conservative to most progressive, are shyly attempting to white-wash the grotesque crimes of U.S. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.
As Greenwald contends, there is “…quite obviously a desperate need to believe that when an American engages in acts of violence of this type (meaning: as a deviation from formal American policy), there must be some underlying mental or emotional cause that makes it sensible, something other than an act of pure hatred or Evil. When a Muslim engages in acts of violence against Americans, there is an equally desperate need to believe the opposite: that this is yet another manifestation of inscrutable hatred and Evil, and any discussion of any other causes must be prohibited and ignored.”
A Matter Of Faith
I recently asked my followers on Twitter, with a considerable air of sarcasm, whether or not the religious affiliation of U.S. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has been expounded upon; is there a pending investigation into what religious school of thought he adheres to? Will the general public demand religious leaders, organization and even adherents of this religious bloc be forced to condemn the actions of the accused soldiers(s)? Will entire religious blocs associated with said soldier(s) who murdered Afghan civilians be profiled? dubbed “extremists”? Will the mainstream media require that all adherents of this faith “apologize” as is done with Muslims?
Plainly speaking, when a person of Middle Eastern/North African (et al.) descent and Muslim background is accused of any volume of crime, be it from the minute to the massive, their faith is spot-lighted and dragged through the mud without exception. When, for example, Christians kill they just-so-happen to be Christian while when Muslims kill their faith had all to do with their alleged crime. Just as well, a simple internet inquiry bolsters this theory, that when a criminal or alleged criminal happens to be Muslim their faith is the primary focus while when a non-Muslim kills their faith is rarely made public.
What other religious group in recent history besides Islam is not simply asked, but demanded, to apologize when a member of their religious school of thought commits a crime? When it was made public that the Catholic Church had been hiding child-abuse, including the molestation of disabled children, were Catholics worldwide demanded to apologize for these heinous acts? Was Catholicism demonized to the degree we now see with Islam or were the actions of a number of bishops described as being deviations from religious doctrine, that they were not the customary or principle behavior of Catholics? Surely not, as one would not stain an entire religious group based on the actions of a minority, it is a fallacious and absurd accusation at its most basic level. Yet we see this being done routinely with Islam and Muslims.
Muslims have been discriminated against so habitually in recent decades that it is now a customary bureaucratic talking point during political campaigns for one to discuss “radical Islam” and the “threat of Sharia law.”
U.S. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is accused of killing of 16 Afghan villagers in the sanctuary of their beds, most of them women and children. The burden of his actions have been all but lifted off his shoulders and the excuses being made on his behalf are ceaseless; anything to lighten the blow of this most recent massacre. And while we know the name of at least one U.S. soldier involved in the butchery of civilians in Kandahar, as the U.S. account of events are being questioned, the mainstream media has put a face on the 16 slaughtered Afghans. As Qais Azimy recently noted, ”no one asked their names“:
“Many mainstream media outlets channelled a significant amount of energy into uncovering the slightest detail about the accused soldier – now identified as Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. We even know where his wife wanted to go for vacation, or what she said on her personal blog.
But the victims became a footnote, an anonymous footnote. Just the number 16. No one bothered to ask their ages, their hobbies, their aspirations. Worst of all, no one bothered to ask their names.”
Mohamed Dawood son of Abdullah
Khudaydad son of Mohamed Juma
Shatarina daughter of Sultan Mohamed
Zahra daughter of Abdul Hamid
Nazia daughter of Dost Mohamed
Masooma daughter of Mohamed Wazir
Farida daughter of Mohamed Wazir
Palwasha daughter of Mohamed Wazir
Nabia daughter of Mohamed Wazir
Esmatullah daughter of Mohamed Wazir
Faizullah son of Mohamed Wazir
Essa Mohamed son of Mohamed Hussain
Akhtar Mohamed son of Murrad Ali
Haji Mohamed Naim son of Haji Sakhawat
Mohamed Sediq son of Mohamed Naim
When Afghans, Pakistani’s, Yemeni’s et al. are killed in U.S. airstrikes they are covered in the stale blanket of “collateral damage” and thus the do not matter to the general public. They are not humanized to even a single degree to which those killing them are. U.S. soldiers who commit war-crimes are customarily pitied; they were financially troubled, they were suffering from mental illness, they blacked-out during the alleged crimes, they were enraged at having to see their comrades killed etc etc. ad nauseam.
What of the victims of the United States of America’s occupations? What were they like? How did they live? What do we know of the victims? Of the pieces of flesh scorched and shredded after a U.S. drone-strike? Nothing. While war-criminals are given the benefit of the doubt, their ‘tragic’ lives documented in a detailed, almost move-like fashion, the victims are tossed aside like garbage. Where else do we see such grotesque hypocrisy but with the heinous crimes of imperialist powers?
The United States and NATO forces are occupying Afghanistan, this simple reality has slipped passed even the most seasoned pundits. The occupation and war is a crime in and of itself, this too has been omitted from the sob-stories being printed. The tiny violin being played by the United States government for ‘poor Sgt. Bales’ and others like him does so right outside the funeral pyres of thousands upon thousands of civilians who committed no crimes, who were guilty of nothing.
As Bill Van Auken intensely writes:
“The corporate media, which played such a prominent role in promoting the lies used to justify these wars, now has no interest in analyzing what this latest massacre says about the war itself. Like the government, its main concern is to cover up such crimes, or, where that proves impossible, divert attention from their objective significance.
Staff Sergeant Bales and any other US soldier involved in the killing spree in Kandahar must be held accountable for his crimes. That being said, the far greater criminals are those in the Bush and Obama administrations who sent them to kill and die in wars based on lies. Bringing those criminals to justice is the task of the working class as part of the struggle against imperialist war and the capitalist profit system which is its source.”
For these crimes to end the occupations must as well. And for the hypocrisy of the general public and the United States government to be further exposed we all must continue speak out against the imperialist war machine and those who continue to encourage it.