When I saw pictures of Marines urinating on dead Afghans who were purportedly members of the Taliban, I had the same reaction as leaders of the Taliban.
Now, I want to be clear that the Taliban’s behavior has not been any sort of moral beacon either. Their prejudice and mistreatment of women is well documented, and their support of Al Qaeda was asinine. But their response that the Marines’ behavior was “just another barbaric act by foreign forces” was not far off the mark.
According to one of their spokesmen, this act of urinating on the dead was “not a new thing. It’s normal with the American forces and their allies. The foreign forces have always discriminated and abused human rights in Afghanistan.”
The Taliban response was more accurate than the fake moral outrage of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. While condemning the behavior of the Marines, Panetta said, “The conduct is entirely inappropriate for members of the U.S. military and does not reflect the standards or values our armed forces are sworn to uphold.”
Clinton chimed in, saying the behavior was “absolutely inconsistent with the standards of behavior that the vast majority of Marines hold themselves to.”
My first thought was, “Are they kidding?” The U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have in truth held themselves to very little if any standards in their commission of these aggressive occupations. Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan attacked the U.S., so the idea that this was some kind of mutual war is a lie. Both wars were naked land grabs, nothing more and nothing less.
And then there is the tired lie that some misguided citizens continue to parrot about the U.S. Armed Forces being in Afghanistan or Iraq to protect “us.” The truth is that the U.S. military is in these places to fight for the ambitions of the U.S. government and Big Business.
Iraq and Afghanistan are strategic places that fit in the U.S. government’s plans to control the goings-on in the Middle East. And, of course, most folks — who are thinking — already know that the war is also about promoting some U.S. multinationals’ interests, especially those of U.S. oil companies.
So let’s be clear: There is no moral barometer for what the U.S. is doing. In fact, both wars can be considered racist and anti-Islamic. It’s not lost on many of us that the vast majority of U.S. interventions in other nations have been in nations of color.
Incidentally — though no one will admit it — this fact makes the war easier to sell. After all, how hard is it really to get an already prejudiced population to get excited about killing “sand ni***rs,” “hajjis,” and the “other.”
Soldiers, especially White soldiers, treating dark-skinned Muslims with absolute and complete disrespect really isn’t all that surprising. Many of them have grown up on a diet of negative narratives, myths and lies about people of color, a convincing but false narrative that preaches that the “other” is not worthy of respect.
Consequently, these soldiers’ behavior is the logical conclusion for a country that refuses to absolutely take a stand against discrimination of all kinds. It’s the logical conclusion for a country that still has ghettos reserved for large populations of its colored citizens.
Such behavior is a reasonable expectation for a government that refuses to provide real equal opportunity for its Black citizens while finding ways to lock them up in disproportionate numbers.
If I exaggerate, then why did Republican candidate Rick Santorum, campaigning in lily-White Iowa, say out of the blue sky, “I don’t want to make Black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money”? Why did Newt Gingrich feel comfortable saying that, if given a chance, he would tell the NAACP, “Black folks should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps”?
No, the U.S. has declared war on these folks with as much disrespect as it can muster. This government has found new and inventive ways to disrespect its prey, from opening Guantanamo Bay to Abu Ghraib; from sanctioned torture (including waterboarding) to beatings at checkpoints; from indiscriminate killing of Iraqis and Afghans to WikiLeaks videos depicting helicopter pilots shooting unarmed civilians and laughing about it.
Urinating on corpses is the perfect metaphor and exactly the kind of message the U.S. government is sending to the colored people of the world. Right now the Horn of Africa is experiencing its worst famine in 60 years; not only is there little talk of it here in the West, but the U.S. is making it difficult to impossible for expatriates of that area, particularly Somalis, to send money home.
Urinating on already dead human beings actually does reflect and is entirely consistent with the “standards” and the “values” of this government, as it seems to be saying “pi** on you” to the rest of the world in its quest for new material and markets for its corporations, power, and geographical hegemony.
Mel Reeves welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.