Thursday, June 21, 2007

Is it just propaganda for their alleged kindness?

We’re sending troops back into combat who are on lithium or Prozac?

I don’t know much about this (but when has that ever stopped me from commenting?) (that was a rhetorical question): evidently there is a big problem with child abuse among Aboriginals in the Northern Territory of Australia, which the government blames on alcohol and pornography. So John Howard will ban both for Aboriginals in the territory, restrict how welfare recipients can spend their money, abrogate Aboriginal self-government, etc etc. Child abuse is bad, of course (I feel silly having to start a sentence by spelling that out), but Howard has practically built his career on expressions of racist contempt for the original peoples and is simply not to be trusted with the degree of control over Aboriginals’ lives he plans to grab on the pretext of protecting their children from them. He will make welfare payments dependent on children going to school, but in the past, before all this alleged abuse came to light, he advocated conditioning welfare on children washing their faces twice a day.

Maybe we can make that one of the benchmarks in Iraq. We’re not withdrawing troops until every single Iraqi child washes their faces, including behind the ears, twice a day. The US army reported that it found 24 children aged 3 to 15 in a Baghdad orphanage who were being starved (while food was piled up in a stock room), tied up, naked and covered in shit in a windowless room. (The announcement by the US military came ten whole days after the discovery, with no explanation offered for the delay, at least that I’ve seen.) Said Gen. Vincent Brooks: “We’re very fortunate to have the kind of soldiers we have who are willing to take action, even at personal risk, to save the lives of others. These soldiers in a literal and figurative sense are the best chance for Iraq, just as they were for these boys.” Yes, the entire occupation is now justified. As social work. Although the orphanage was run by the government we put in charge.

A government that includes Labor and Social Affairs Minister Mahmoud Mohammed al-Radi (SCIRI), who said the whole thing was propaganda. “Are they really concerned about how well the children are treated in that shelter, or is it just propaganda for their alleged kindness?” he asked. Er, both actually. We can be complicated that way. Radi claimed the real brutality was the invasion of the orphanage by US troops in the middle of the night. The middle of the night!

Speaking of children, remember the seven killed by an American air strike in Afghanistan Monday? NBC, citing anonymous military sources, says that the military knew there were children present, contrary to what they’ve been saying, but considered the target, some Al Qaida guy you’ve never heard of – no doubt the #3 guy in Al Qaida as per usual – was worth the deaths of a few children. No word on whether they succeeded. Bush said yesterday, “Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical.” He didn’t pronounce on the ethicality of destroying human life in order to destroy other human life.

That was a fun post, wasn’t it? Abused and dead children, and lots of them. Some days the news is just like that. A palate-cleanser is called for:

This time, why not the best?

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