Saturday, 16 July 2005
Iran: Clashes erupt in Mahabad, SSF vehicle set on fire
Mahabad, Iran, Jul. 16 – Unrest continued in the north-western town of Mahabad, Iranian Kurdistan province, last night, with clashes erupting between locals and State Security Forces, following a week of similar anti-government protests which flared up after news broke out of the brutal murder of a young Kurdish man by the SSF.
Yesterday evening, close to 1,000 people gathered in the main path leading to Independence Square and started to march forward. They were joined quickly by several thousand of the local population and together they started chanting anti-government slogans and burning tyres. As they crowded Independence square, chants of “Death to Khamenei” could be heard, referring to the clerical state’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Chants of “Shoan, we will continue your struggle” echoed in the square.
On Sunday, agents of the SSF opened fire on Shoan Qaderi and two of his friends in an avenue near Independence Square. The security forces then proceeded with tying Qaderi’s body to a Toyota jeep and while driving dragged him in streets, according to eye-witnesses.
Witnesses said that the act was carried out because Qaderi was active in anti-government protests and authorities wanted to intimidate the local population to prevent further demonstrations in the volatile city.
Minutes after Qaderi’s body was dragged throughout the town, several hundred angry residents gathered in nearby streets and started to chant anti-government slogans.
Last night’s demonstration was met with swift and fierce retribution by anti-riot forces already stationed there to prevent a re-emergence of dissent. The SSF fired live rounds and tear gas to disperse the crowd. Several protestors including a child were gravely wounded and were driven to a local hospital by fellow demonstrators. A number of SSF agents were also injured. At least a dozen people were detained and taken to unknown locations.
Gasoline was poured onto the ground and set alight at several locations surrounding the square to stop the sting of the tear gas.
As the violence escalated, protestors set an SSF vehicle and several nearby government buildings on fire. Clashes ensued until well after midnight.
Several hundred people have been arrested over the past week during numerous hit-and-run clashes and house-to-house raids.
Several other large anti-government demonstrations have rocked the town of Mahabad in recent month. 100 arrested, 60 buses damaged in Iran city protests
Tehran, Iran, Jul. 16 – At least 100 demonstrators were arrested and 60 buses damaged in clashes that erupted Saturday after a football match in Iran’s second largest city.
Security forces and young people clashed over a large area of the city of Mashad after a football match between Saba Battery and Abu-Moslem football clubs.
Clashes began as supporters of the Mashad-based Abu-Moslem booed the referee for what they said was an unfair penalty. As security forces moved in to put down the protest, protesters began throwing stones and using flagpoles to push back the truncheon-wielding policemen.
Skirmishes spilt out of the stadium and into the surrounding districts, as the protest took on a political hue with young people chanting, “guns, tanks and [the paramilitary] Bassijis are no longer effective”.
The clashes in Mashad mark the third large-scale confrontation between security forces and young people in Iranian cities in less than a week since the inauguration of a hard-line Revolutionary Guards commander as the chief of the police. Brigadier General Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam vowed upon assuming responsibility for Iran’s law enforcement forces that he would crack down on all “enemies of the Islamic Republic”.
Football matches often provide an arena for Iran’s frustrated youth to vent their anger at the Islamic regime. At least seven people were killed in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium when clashes erupted after a World Cup qualifier between Iran and Japan. An inquiry into the deaths blamed the security forces.
Friday, 15 July 2005
Iran declares new crackdown on women, ?social vice
Tehran, Iran, Jul. 11 - With the arrival of a top commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as the country’s new police chief, Iran’s state-run media announced a new summer-long crackdown on “social vice” in Tehran targeting in particular young women and runaway girls.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed on Saturday Brigadier General Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, the number two in the paramilitary Bassij and commander of the force in Greater Tehran, as Iran’s new chief of police.
A senior security official told one of Iran’s state-run news agencies, ISNA, that “mal-veiled or unveiled individuals inside and outside of cars” would be the target of arrests by Iran’s State Security Forces, the paramilitary police force.
SSF in Tehran would also be on the lookout for “open examples of corruption in tourist and recreation resorts”.
The top official said the police would embark on a systematic clampdown on “shops and public places where public chastity and Islamic values are ignored”. Loud music will no longer be tolerated, he said.
Runaway girls and homeless young women would also be the target of arrests, and Tehran’s police force would also identify and crack down on places where “corrupt people gather”, the report added.
The appointment of Ahmadi Moghaddam, who is among the top commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and a protege of IRGC Commandant General Rahim Safavi, brings the country’s police force under the complete domination of the Revolutionary Guards and signals a readiness to crack down harder on what the ultra-conservatives see as “deviation” from the country’s rigid religious laws.
Moghaddam was quoted by the state-run daily Kayhan as saying in November 2004, “A country where liberal ideas rule will get no where”.
200 police conduct midnight raid in northwest Iran city park
Thu. 14 Jul 2005
Tabriz, Iran, Jul. 14 – At least 200 agents of Iran’s State Security Forces on Monday conducted a midnight raid in the central park in Tabriz, northwest Iran, according to eye-witness accounts.
“At one in the morning, more than 200 of the regime’s security forces were brought to Baghe Golestan Park in their cars and they started arresting anyone in sight”, said one eye-witness, who requested anonymity.
Another eye-witness described seeing at least 70 SSF cars approach the vicinity of the area around the part. “Out of nowhere suddenly we saw at least 70 police cars close off the vicinity of the park”.
“They started to attack everyone there”, he added.
Local news on the state-controlled television later described the raid as part of “ongoing efforts to root out drug addicts”, but witnesses described the violent attacks on locals as part of a new wave of crackdown to suppress social decent.
The first witness went on to explain that he saw the SSF detain passers-by including someone taking out his trash.
Iran executes teenage demonstrators in Ahwaz ? reports
Ahwaz, Apr. 23 – Iran’s Revolutionary Guards executed a number of teenage demonstrators in the streets of Ahwaz, southern Iran, according to eye-witnesses.
Residents reported that Revolutionary Guards arrested demonstrators in the city streets and gunned them down to terrorise the local people and end a weeklong anti-government uprising that has spread throughout the oil-rich Khuzestan Province.
Helicopters were also seen opening fire on demonstrators.
A 5-year-old boy was killed when he was run over by a Revolutionary Guards’ armoured personnel carrier, eye-witnesses said.
Smoke from tear-gas that has been fired was so heavy that hospitals have been inundated with patients complaining of severe respiratory problems. A number of hospitals have also been raided by State Security Forces and large numbers of youth have been arrested on charges of taking part in the demonstrations.
Fierce fighting has brought the province to a complete stand-still since Friday, when State Security Forces (SSF) opened fire on a 3,000-strong anti-government demonstration in the city of Ahwaz.
Ahwaz was placed under a de facto martial law after anti-government demonstrations led to bloody clashes between local residents and security forces.
A government-orchestrated counter-demonstration on Friday was greeted with apathy by the local people. Even the non-Arab residents of Ahwaz stayed away from the march led by local clerics and officials of the Islamic Republic. State television showed scenes of the demonstration, with large banners blaming “the U.S., Israel and the Monafeqin” for the uprising. Monafeqin, or hypocrites, is the term Iranian state media and officials use to describe the People’s Mojahedin, Iran’s main opposition group.
The semi-official Jomhouri Islami daily wrote in its editorial today, “We must not ignore the seditious role being played by the Monafeqin in the events in Ahwaz”.
The Prosecutor-General of Ahwaz Amir Khani said today that five people had been detained by Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, charged with being the primary instigators of the clashes that are still on going in a number of districts. He also announced the arrest of a further 59 people involved in the clashes in Ahwaz by the security and intelligence apparatus.
Thursday, 14 July 2005
Photos of Kurdish man killed by security forces in northwest Iran
London, Jul. 14 – Iran Focus has obtained several before-and-after photos of Shoan Qaderi, a young Iranian Kurd from the north-western town of Mahabad, who was gunned down by State Security Forces and then hung from the back of a Toyota jeep which was driven in nearby streets on Sunday.
According to witnesses the act was carried out because Qaderi was active in anti-government protests and authorities wanted to intimidate the local population to prevent further demonstrations in the volatile city.
Minutes after Qaderi’s body was dragged throughout the town, several hundred angry residents gathered in nearby streets and started to chant anti-government slogans.
Iran security forces kill youth at point blank, drag body in town
Mahabad, Iran, Jul. 12 – Iran’s State Security Forces on Sunday opened fire at youths in the north-western volatile Kurdish town of Mahabad, leaving one young man dead and several others injured.
A group of friends were walking at an avenue in Independence Square in Mahabad at 22:30, when they were approached and attacked by an SSF convoy, plain-clothed Islamic vigilantes, and a number of agents of Iran’s dreaded Ministry of Intelligence and Security (VEVAK), according to several eye-witnesses.
The SSF fatally shot a young man by the name of Shoan Qaderi and critically injured two other individuals.
The security forces then proceeded with tying Qaderi’s body to a Toyota jeep and while driving dragged it in streets, according to the witnesses.
“This barbaric and inhumane act was carried out to scare everybody so that they stop their anti-government protests”, said one witness, who requested to remain anonymous.
“Shoan was always active in demonstrations against the regime. Whenever there was a protest, he was always on the frontlines”, said another witnessed, who claimed that he was a friend of Qaderi.
Minutes after Qaderi’s body was dragged throughout the town, several hundred local angry residents gathered in nearby streets and started to chant anti-government slogans.
Anti-riot police were brought in from the neighbouring towns of Miandoab and Naqadeh to stop the escalation of protests.
Several large anti-government demonstrations have rocked the town of Mahabad in recent month.
Residents believe that with the arrival of ultra-conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the new President of Iran, security forces will have a freer reign to suppress dissent.
Ahmadinejad recently rejected a request by Kurdish Members of Parliament to allow ethnic Kurds into his cabinet.
Oh I REALLY want these (epithet deleted)s to have Atomics.
PS the links will take you to the photos, they were pretty grim.
Wednesday, 13 July 2005
Today's Committee of Corespondence from behind the Quranic Wall isIran Hopes 2005
Here are his thoughts on the situationSunday, July 10, 2005
Yesterday, it was July the 9th. On this day in 1999, the first, but certainly not the last, popular movement, in the history of Islamic regime took place. It is known as the Student Uprsing of 18th Tir, which shook the foundations of the 'Mullahtarian' dictatorship in Iran. Students were attacked, killed, and wounded and many of their leaders were arrested. It was the end of the Republic for the Islamic regime, while at the same time, the beginning of the new era Mullahtarianism - whose offspring is the phenomenon of Ahmadinejad. July the 9th 1999 testified for the end of the so called 'Reformist' movement, when Khatami threatened the students to discontinue their uprising or get the stick.
I was present at one incident of clash between the students and Ansar which occured on Enghelab Avenue. It was Monday, July 12. Earlier in the morning Khamenei had addressed Ansar- his fanatic followers- to remain calm, even if protesters had torn of his photos. But in fact he was giving them the 'code': "Do not remain calm! tear them off!". I recall at 5pm, around a thousand people were marching down from east to west of Enghelab Avenue, chanting anti-regime and anti-Khamenei slogans. Then the Ansar came. Bearded men in white shirts, armed with thick sticks, chains, batons and tear gases. Some were on motorbikes. First they warned the people to go away, using offensive language. But demonstrators defied them. Then Ansar attacked, beating people with their sticks and chains. It was a dreadful scene. I still have in mind every moment of that day and all the days between the 18th and 23th of Tir. They remind me of a deeply divided Iranian nation: peacful vs violent, fanatics vs moderates. What I saw in those few days taught me of the huge diversity among the nation I belong to.
The 18th of Tir is remembered since. But every year in a different way. This year I had the opportuinty to be here on its anniversary. I wanted to see if people still remember those unforgettable days. Those who did were reluctant to express it openly. Maybe they asked what is the point in remembering those days when those who perpetuated the atrocities of 18th of Tir are now celebrating their 'victory'? What is the use of remembering the 18th of Tir when the 3rd of Tir (July 24 the day of the second round of the election) is celebrated by the aggressors of that day and the rulers of today, while all this is happening in front of our eyes, the nation's eyes - a nation who has been silenced and drugged to forget its real history as it happened?
There may be enough reasons to forget 18th of Tir. But there are many more reasons to believe, to have hope, to see, to learn, to teach, to celebrate, and to remember. The next '18th of Tir' will not be created by 'us' who went on the streets or used our vote in 1997 to make our voice heard, but by those who will talk to this deaf regime differently. Let the regime be happy for the moment that it has silenced the people.
But it is only silence before the storm
Tuesday, 12 July 2005
Everyone's heard of the events in Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan demonstrations report
Government forces in Uzbekistan have opened fire on demonstrators in the central square of the city of Andijan. The World's Matthew Bell has the latest.
How many saw ANYTHING about THIS on the news?Opposition reports 62 killed, 1000 arrested in Iran clashes
London, Apr. 21 – At least 62 people have been killed and over 1,000 arrested in the week-long clashes between people and security forces in Iran’s southern Khuzestan province, according to the main Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran.
Fierce fighting has brought the province to a complete stand-still since Friday, when State Security Forces (SSF) opened fire on a 3,000-strong anti-government demonstration in the city of Ahwaz.
The residents who were mainly ethnic Arabs were complaining of government plans to redefine the ethnic make-up of the province.
Ahwaz was placed under a de facto martial law after a number of SSF agents were killed by angry demonstrators.
Balal Mosque in Sepidar neighbourhood and similar places in Ahwaz are being used as temporary detention centres by MOIS agents and the Revolutionary Guards.
The PMOI said today, “Young people took control of Ahwaz highway to Abadan. Residents of Molashieh attacked the SSF base in the district and killed the base’s commander and his deputy”.
“The clerical regime cordoned off the city’s airport and cut off water, electricity and telephone lines in Lashgar-Abad and Dayereh to intimidate the people.
“Some 55 people have been killed and at least 400 wounded so far during clashes in Ahwaz. Most of those slain were between 18 and 22 years old. Hundreds of young people have been arrested and taken to Karoun Prison. Arrests are continuing in Mahshahr, Abadan, Shish and other cities in the province.
“To date, 1,000 people have been arrested and many transferred to undisclosed locations. The security forces continued dispersing the demonstrators by opening fire and using tear gas canisters.
“Despite brutal attacks by the suppressive forces, the chants of ‘down to the clerical regime’, ‘death to Khamenei, death to Khatami’ echoed throughout Ahwaz.
The PMOI said that clashes also occurred in Old-Mahshar, where residents engaged in armed clashes with anti-riot forces, and authorities dispatched reinforcements from other provinces to the city. It said that residents destroyed a large number of government buildings and set fire to government vehicles. Seven people have been killed and hundreds wounded in the clashes so far, according to the opposition group.
“Three of those slain were named Asgari, Ghargholi and Alboughobeish”, it said.
“The clashes spread to Masjid Soleiman, Dezful and Howeizeh. This morning, residents in Masjed Soleiman held a rally to voice support for demonstrators elsewhere in the province. They also changed anti-government slogans. All schools in the city were closed down and the security forces used tear gas and live fire to disperse the crowds.
“Clashes have been reported in Dezful and Howeizeh as well”, it added.
Iraq turns out like Iran?
That is the doom and gloom scenario, that is propagated in some circles.
My question is well what if that happens, what does it really mean?
It is not like the Mainstream Media covers much of the action in Iran these days.
For real information, you have to go to the Free Iran networks.
Sometimes the websites are down. I don't see much play on internal Iranian events in the major blogsphere so I think I will be mirroring some bits and pieces here. When I can access the sites.
Dozens injured or arrested in Iran-Bahrain soccer riots
SMCCDI (Information Service)
Jun 9, 2005
Dozens have been injured or arrested following the riots which rocked main Iranian cities, yesterday night, at the issue of Iran's win over Bahrain for the qualification of the 2006 World Cup soccer games.
The celebration gatherings turned, right after the end of the game, into massive shows of popular defiance and rejection of all symbols of the Islamic regime. The National exasperation is to the point that male demonstrators had in most occasions to create security belts around maverick females who persisted to stay and 'fight for freedom'.
Several demonstrators, including many females, have been injured due to the use of acid or knives while many other have been wounded by heavy clubs or chains. Many have been hospitalized due to the brutality used by Islamic regime's plainclothes men and members of the paramilitary Bassij force.
Some female demonstrators who had pulled off their veils or were dancing and chanting were beaten and injured. In Guisha, Shahrak e Gharb, Gohardasht and Tajrish areas of Tehran several women were seen bleeding from faces or arms. Same kind of brutality have been reported from several provincial cities.
Earlier and before the start of the game, several female protesters were seriously injured as Islamist militiamen attacked them in the parking areas of Tehran's Azadi ('Freedom') stadium. The demonstrators supported by tens of males were carrying placards condemning the official systematic Gender Apartheid policy and the ban of Iranian women from soccer games.
The anger of the group was raised as a 'selected' group of female were allowed in the stadium in order to help the regime showing a better and 'more' human face to some naive reporters who are in a delusional quest of seeing 'reforms' taking place in Iran. Iranians anger has also been increased as some of these reporters are more focused on the planned show offered by a group of hired young girls, including some well-known prostitutes who are promoting Hashemi Rafsanjani, than the real fight of Iranian women and men for ending tyranny and demagoguery.
It's to note that many Iranian women are intending to protest against the existing discrimination by gathering on Sunday June 12th in front of Tehran University. Ms. Bush's speech, in Amman, in favor of women of Middle east has energized many Iranian women and they believe that as the American Executive, President Bush, has stated: "America will stand by Iranian People when they will rise for freedom".
Finally and as expected, special sections of the security force's elite brigades started in cities, such as, Esfahan, Hamedan, Shiraz, Tabriz, Mahabad, Keramshah, Mashad, Sanandaj, Rasht, Mian-do-Ab, Abadan, Yazd, Kerman, Ghazvin and Oroomiah (former Rezai-e) their massive crackdown after midnight by attacking those maverick demonstrators who persisted to stay and denounce the Islamist dictatorship.
The repression forces were awaiting the diminution of the crowd and a more fluid traffic in order to start their usual work.
But in many cities angry demonstrators retaliated to the brutal attacks with pieces of stones, clubs, martial art and incendiary devices.
In the Greater Tehran's areas of Madar, Hafthose, Rey, Saadat Abad, Guisha, Sadeghie, Vali-e Asr, Eslamshahr, Tajrish and Azadi heavy damages were inflicted to public materials and buildings. Windows of tens of buses and offices or commercial entities affiliated to the Islamic regime were smashed by demonstrators. Some of the Capital's avenues, such as, Azadi or Enghelab were covered with pieces of broken glace.
Most of regime's propaganda devices, such as, its sham electoral propaganda were brought down or set on fire. Several militiamen were also injured in those clashes and several patrol vehicles or Militia's motorbikes were damaged or torched, such as, in Eslamshahr which is a poor suburb of Tehran.
Slogans calling for the overthrow of the Islamic regime and even execution of clerics were shouted, such as, "Toop, Tank, Feshfeshe, Akhoond bayad koshte she" (Guns, Tanks, Cleric must be killed). Other slogans, such as, "na roossari, natoosari" (no veil, no submission), "edalat, barabari" (justice, equality), "marg bar estebdad" (down with dictatorship), "marg bar taleban , tche kabol, tche tehran" (down with taleban, in Kabol and in Tehran, "Iran, Iran, Azadi!" (Iran, Iran, Freedom), "Marg bar Estebdad" (Down with dictatorship), "Akbar koosee, Iran Chili nemishe" (Akbar the Shark -meaning Hashemi Rafsanjani- Iran won't become another Chili), "Toop, Tank Feshfeshe, Bassiji bayad koshte she" (Guns, tanks, firearms, Bassijis -paramilitary force- should be killed) were shouted by many demonstrators.
A demagogue Islamist leadership had first tried to take the lead in order to calm the Iranians by offering celebration ceremonies but once again, Iranians turned them against it.
Four sound bombs exploded, earlier in the evening, rocking the religious City of Ghom. Several residents were injured by the sound waves created by such devices placed around the mausoleum of Fatemeh who's a symbol for shias. It's believed that these devices were installed by circles affiliated to the Islamic regime itself in order to undermine the nature of the unprecedented popular celebrations and demonstrations taking place in this ultra conservative city.
Such fabricated excuses are usually used by the regime in order to justify crackdown.
Already the explosion, few years, ago, of a bomb near Reza's shrine in Mashad is known to have been the work of the regime's intelligence but several opponents were executed for such masterminded crime.
Monday, 27 June 2005
Wood's fellow hostage hires bounty hunters
Topic: Iraq War
I LIKE this guy's attitude!
Hat tip to Buster Blocker InMuscatine
June 26, 2005 - 7:18PM
A hostage held alongside Australian Douglas Wood in Iraq has hired bounty hunters to track down his former captors, promising to eliminate them one by one.
Swede Ulf Hjertstrom, who was held for several weeks with Mr Wood in Baghdad, was released by his kidnappers on May 30.
Mr Hjertstrom has since claimed he shared information with US and Iraqi troops about Mr Wood which led to the release of the 63-year-old Australian engineers two weeks ago, after 47 days in captivity.
Now, he wants to find those responsible.
"I have now put some people to work to find these bastards," he told the Ten Network today.
"I invested about $50,000 so far and we will get them one by one."
Tuesday, 24 May 2005
Keep Your Hopes Up, Overseas Americans, Help Is Available!
"Hello, my name is Eric, and I'm an American."
"I used to be embarrassed to admit I carried a U.S. passport, and ashamed in turn to be embarrassed about that. These dark secrets led to feelings of guilt and to an evil circle from which I couldn 't escape. That's when I discovered AA (Americans Anonymous)?
"Thanks to this 12-step group, and to the fellowship of like-minded people, I have learned true humility. I have had to face up to the truth. The sad and uncomfortable truth. I now realize that as Americans, we cannot, and never will, measure up to Europeans (among others) in the areas of honesty, generosity, tolerance, solidarite (en francais dans le texte), clear-mindedness, humanitarianism, infinite wisdom, true democracy, world peace, and the love of one's fellow man.
"Yes, unfortunately, I must confess the truth, there's no use denying it: I'm an American. That means I am not intelligent enough to realize the gravest dangers threatening mankind today are Coca-Cola, McDonald's, and a rodent named Mickey. It means I am too simple-minded to realize that modern European society represents the pinnacle of brotherhood (or is on the path thereto). It means I am too myopic to realize that referring to regimes such as Saddam's or Kim Jong-Il's or Brezhnev's as 'evil' is hopelessly retrograde, not to mention preposterous. (And I hope that one day Iraqis, North Koreans, and citizens of former Warsaw Pact countries who think the same will be able to make a pilgrimage to Western Europe, where the powers that be will, in their infinite wisdom, sober them up by telling them to shut up and by otherwise correcting all such reactionary beliefs.)
"It means I am too stupid to see what is obvious to Europeans (and others): that the US of A is a 'false democracy' and that I and my fellow countrymen are incapable of seeing when we are being manipulated. It means I am too naive to see that respect and dialogue are necessary, nay vital, in international relations. And if the leaders we show this respect and tolerance to don't show the same respect and tolerance to their own citizens (because of, say, mass imprisonment, torture, rape, beheadings, and things of that order), I'm too stupid to understand that just a little more of European-type dialogue would convince said autocrats to see the light, do away with their uncouth ways, and install a democratic system in their lands (the fraternal European kind, bien sur, not the 'false' American kind)?
"Thank goodness there is a Higher Power to which to turn. And that is the vastly superior European system of brotherhood. These wise, visionary beings are here to set us straight. All we need do is turn our power over to them, and an era of world peace will ensue?"
AA: Aid and Assistance to Americans Abroad
Dear Guest to this website,
As the founder of Americans Anonymous ? an organization for expatriates who are ashamed to admit that they are U.S. citizens when in the company of a group of smug, self-righteous foreigners ? I would like to welcome you to an open meeting of the group, in which we discuss our basic principles. (Foreign sympathizers and Americans stateside are welcome at meetings in our sister organization, Am-Anon.)
The most common frequently-asked question newcomers ask is: How do I respond to a group of smug foreigners submitting me to a barrage of irony-laden questions, asinine comments, and demented accusations concerning my government, my country, and/or the type of society I live in? Our main precept is this: Do your homework (i.e., know your facts, this being something you obviously prepare beforehand), and? agree with them. Agree with them wholeheartedly!
After years of trying to deal with this problem, I now know it doesn't pay to argue or defend yourself. Certainly you should never lose your temper. It is useless to try to defend, say, the policies of Washington (or the benefits of capitalism, or the content of Hollywood films, or the character of the American people) with this type of foreigner because their true purpose is not to have a real debate, nor is it for you ? or they! ? to try to gain more understanding about a particular subject. The point is to prove ? as much to their interlocutors, American or other, as to themselves ? the "obvious" fact (in their point of view): that in the final analysis they are ever and always more superior and more advanced than those hopeless Yanks.
Insofar as this is true, AA's advice to Americans is: agree with them! Do not bother to argue. Do not waste your time. You simply admit "the truth" to everybody, fellow Americans and foreigners alike, pro-Washington and anti-Washington people alike. Here's how it goes:
The Forrest Gump Treatment
If a Euro-weenie asks, say, "Why did you Yanks choose war?", you agree with them wholeheartedly, and then you go a step further. Reply as follows: "It's because we are stupid, myopic, greedy, arrogant, treacherous, war-mongering, and wholeheartedly without a single ounce of love for our fellow man." Then go "above and beyond the call of duty": "?And if only we were as wise, as generous, as peace-loving, as respectful, as tolerant, as solidaires, as visionary, as clear-headed (lucides), as you (so obviously) are, then naturally, an era of encompassing and lasting peace would ensue on the entire planet. Why do you ask?"
Ideally, all this should be said entirely innocently, in a matter-of-fact manner, without the slightest hint of irony in the tone of voice or the facial expression. Somewhat like Tom Hanks in the movie Forrest Gump. Because when you speak in this manner, of course, all you are doing is ape the self-serving litany that most foreigners are parroting in the first place. They are not as knowledgeable of the issues as they like to believe, they are not as objective as they like to claim, and they certainly don't really have any way of knowing that their choice of action (or absence thereof) would really have offered a better alternative to the event(s) which took place (or of knowing, alternatively, that Uncle Sam invariably chooses the worst alternative). All they are doing is extolling their societies' (supposed) "fraternal" virtues while condemning the (supposed) sins of American society, policies, and/or values.
Americans of All Stripes, Unite!
Americans abroad have said they have felt compelled to defend George W Bush's policies, even if they don't agree with them (in fact, some are diametrically opposed to them and would never vote for him). Please trust me: all this doesn't matter. Well, it may matter to the American in question, obviously, but it doesn't matter to those who attack Uncle Sam. Again, their main purpose, consciously or not, is simply to make their own society look good and U.S. society look bad, and it doesn't matter who is president or what party is in power. (If ever there is any truth in the charge that Americans are simplistic, it is in the fact that they are too honest; they are so honest they take these remarks literally and at face value.)
Of course, you will hear some say "Clinton (or Carter), now there was a president we liked" or "Oh the Democrats, they are smart"; please don't believe in this (self-)deception ? an honest look (instead of a rosy one) back at the times will show that if they weren't tearing into Carter for being an imperialist, they were mocking him for being a simpleton (as well as a peanut farmer); if they weren't criticizing Clinton for being arrogant, they were either criticizing him for not standing up (enough) to the forces of reaction (the real enemy!), or criticizing the American public for not standing up (enough) for Clinton. (To put the alleged popularity of, and respect for, Democratic presidents into perspective ? as well as their alleged ability to work harmoniously with the rest of the world ? consider that when NATO representatives rose to toast Warren Christopher after Clinton's first secretary of state decided to leave the government in December 1996, the French foreign minister stood up and walked out while Chirac's ambassador to the organisation turned his back and kept talking to an aide.) And if they weren't attacking a particular president or his administration, they were lambasting another aspect of U.S. society. The point is for America to stand out as guilty of the worst crimes, and any type of proof will do, no matter how small, and that whether it involves a particular president or another part of Americana. (Then again, it is true that that simplistic message is the main point of many American citizens protesting within the United States.)
Of course, what some Europeans say are the same charges that some Americans bring against their own society, notably in the opposition. And that is fine. It is fine for there to be an oppisition in a country, in any country. Please note, however, that this does not mean the type of anti-American foreigner who make these comments are in any way your allies and friends. Why? Because they invariably use double standards. The people who are always concluding that American society is a criminally inept one rarely if ever apply the same standards ? and certainly not the same level of fury, the rantings and the ravings ? to China, to Iraq, to Zimbabwe, to Ethiopia, to Cuba, not to mention to their own societies. (Well, some do, sometimes, but never with the same energy, and you often feel they're doing so for either of two reasons; either so they can claim that they cannot be accused of being anti-American since this is allegedly proof that they also promote "humanistic" policies elsewhere ; or else they do so reluctantly, because you can almost hear them muttering, "Wouldn't those people (Russians in Chechnya, Chinese in Tibet, etc) know better than to act in such retrograde ways, when they ought to be clear-headed (as clear-headed as we are) and join forces against the real enemy ? the U.S. and American capitalism!")
So the point here is not (for Americans) to stop criticizing (or fighting to defeat) a given president, a given party, and/or a given policy. Not at all. By all means, keep it up. The point is to be aware that for many of the foreigners issuing what they claim to be "simply constructive criticism", the evidence shows that criticizing America is all they do, criticizing America is all they ever have done, and criticizing America is all they ever will do. In other words, when you hear someone say "Oh, it's your policies we are against", be wary before you say, "Oh, if I make an effort to get our (Washington) leadership to wake up and change its policies in a way they like, the atmosphere will improve", hesitate before you believe them, because they have never used this standard about any other country to the extent they do about the United States, if at all.
This is where it should be said: "Nous sommes tous americains".
Some Specific Examples
Answering anti-Americans in the way prescribed usually brings a hush (at least a temporary one) to their ranting monologs. Alas, the silence doesn't usually last long, as they strive to bring up "evidence" of their (self-serving) "opinions." (Notice that, for people who like nothing better than to excoriate Americans for speaking of good and evil in a simple-minded manner, this usually takes the form of black-and-white, such as "We are incredibly humanistic, while you are hopelessly clueless.") I hate to make this sound aggressive, but besides "Do not lose your temper" and "You must learn to read between the lines", AA's precept is: "Have no pity and make them wiggle."
Let's take some specific examples: "Did you support the intervention in Iraq?" or "What do you think about the death penalty?". These are not real questions of debate, rather the comments serve as camouflage for the real question: "Are you a simplistic war-monger/a retarded reactionary or do you belong in the same hallowed circle of humanistic, clear-minded, and visionary beings as myself?" In fact, more than a question, the point of the remark is obviously nothing more than to make this subtle point: "Either you agree with my wise view that this is/was wrong, even criminally wrong, or you are stupid, blinded, arrogant, etc, etc, etc?" (This from people who love nothing more than to claim that in America, there is one, and only one, opinion!)
If the debate carries you this far, you simply go along with them and, as before, take a step further. Note: You should not fail to do this as it invariably turns the tables on them (but it does require a basic knowledge of current events as well as history) [I will write why this is invariable in a coming article]. "Of course! Of course I am! I'm against all forms of war. That's why I condemn the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and/or the war involving half a dozen nations in the Congo." If they ask you what you think about the Iraq war, say, "yes, it's tragic that a couple of thousand people were killed, always is", then simply ask them why they have never demonstrated against any of the above conflicts, which have killed many more people (respectively 100,000 to 200,000 and 3 million, with the Congo accounting for a total of deaths similar to those of World War I). And, please: do so however you feel about Bush's policies in Iraq; because, remember, their "opinion", again, has little to do with a particular policy or person and everything to do, at its core, with self-serving self-satisfaction.
Or "Of course I'm against death being applied by people in power against defenceless citizens. That's why I condemn (always have) the death penalty in Saudi Arabia and Japan. Not to mention horrors like the mass murders in Nazi Germany, communist Russia, and Idi Amin's Uganda." Then ask them, innocently, why you've never heard them, or seen them, demonstrate against the blood-letting in Zimbabwe. Be sure to bring up the death penalty in China, which accounts for up to three times more deaths in a single year than those in the US over a quarter century.
Watching for the "Fool-Proof" Cards
Beware of their whipping out their "fool-proof" cards. You can just feel that the word has gone around on what to respond on certain matters because the remarks are invariably the same. These take the form of smug attitudes that are supposed to be the final word on a certain subject and, by a very strange coincidence, they somehow, just as invariably, end up painting Uncle Sam as being by far the worst villain in the matter, whatever it is.
Some common cards are those referring to the atomic bombs against Japan and the coup d'etat in Chile. If they say, "America forced everyone to observe a minute of silence for the victims of September 11, why don't we observe one for the victims of Hiroshima?", answer the truth: "Nobody prevents you or me or anybody else from paying our respects to the 80,000 victims of Hiroshima, and in fact the entire Japanese nation has been doing so methodically on a yearly basis for, oh, about the past 60 years; you were asked (not forced) to observe a minute of silence for the Manhattan and Pentagon victims only once ? exactly 24 hours later, at 8:48 a.m. in the morning of September 12, 2001 ? and you never have been (and never will be) asked to do so again." Then add, "While we're at it, shouldn't we observe a minute of silence for the victims of the rape of Nanjing?" Chances being pretty high that they don't know what you're talking about (their minds and lives are too busy making a list of all the "sins" with which to lambaste America and anyway, for some reason, Tokyo doesn't make as big a fuss about this as it does the atomic bombs), you add that you're speaking of the massacre of some 300,000 Chinese nationals ? men, women (some of them pregnant), and children ? which the Japanese imperial army embarked enthusiastically upon in late 1937.
If looking down their noses, they ask "Do you know what other event occurred on September 11?", answer "Yes, a terrible tragedy." Pause while they nod approvingly, then add "George Washington lost the battle of Brandywine" (in 1777) or even "Brian De Palma was born on that date" (so was Ferdinand Marcos, by the way), although I'm not sure to what extent that counts as a tragedy. If they object that they are referring to something more recent and more tragic than that, agree and say "you must be talking of Hitler ordering reinforcements to Romania" (1940) or "FDR ordering any Axis ships in U.S. waters shot on sight" (1941) or even "wasn't it the first TV broadcast of a Miss America beauty contest?" (1954).
If they mention Pinochet's coup d'etat and the 3,000 Chileans killed under his subsequent reign, agree that this was a tragedy (it certainly was) and ask them what they think of Castro and the 20,000 Cubans shot under el Comandante's reign. Oh, and by the way, why don't they get revolted about that? And why do so few of them march against el Jefe Maximo in Europe's streets? If they insist upon the Cuban revolution being necessary or about Fidel having good intentions, ask them how a Lopez family whose father was killed in Cuba is supposed to be better off than a Lopez family whose son was killed in Chile.
If they tick off the list of the dictators that America has supported since World War II, ask them why dictators Washington has opposed (such as Castro and Saddam) invariably brings condemnation from them against? Uncle Sam?! (Of course, when you're used to saying everything is America's fault, the answer will be easy.) Then ask them why they never rant and rave against the bloodiest regimes of the 20th century (the USSR and China), either at the time those regimes existed or in retrospect. (Oh, those leaders had good intentions. I see.) While you're at it, ask why, in listing the dictators the U.S. has supported, they invariably forgot to mention the bloodiest dictator ever supported by Washington in all history. A man who killed tens of millions of people in his country was supported by Uncle Sam in the early '40s. The bloke's name was Joseph Stalin, and he received a massive amount of cash and war materiel through 1945. If they say, "Well, that's something different, they shared a common enemy, one who was more bloody and more dangerous", answer that that may be the exact reason that, rightly or wrongly, Washington supported Batista and his ilk. But don't let up: ask them again why they never include Mao Zedong among the mass-killer dictators who brings up such an amount of anger in them.
Another rabbit they like pulling out is the "live in the present" precept: the past is something one shouldn't bring up. Funny thing, they always bring this out of the hat when referring to themselves (or the people(s) and societies with whom they, for whatever reason, feel close to). Where America is concerned, on the other hand, it's always fair game, strangely enough, to bring up events from September 11, 1973, and the Enola Gay to black slavery and the fate of the Indians.
If they insist, you should bring up your ace: the continent on which the U.S. enjoys relatively little presence. "Yes, it is such a pity that we (or our leaders) have not shown our (them) selves as generous as you so obviously are, but hopefully we can learn from your experience in Africa. What a shame it is that we are blinded to the happy and bountiful effects of your intrinsically wise, generous, fraternal, clear-minded, and forward-looking policies in such places as Congo, Uganda, Cote d'Ivoire, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Rwanda."
Saturday, 16 April 2005
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