Monday, September 17, 2007

NYT shows a little concern for some Iraqis

Violence swept over the Muhammad family in December, taking the father, the family's house and all of its belongings in one chilly morning. But after the Muhammads fled, it subsided and life re-emerged -- ordinary and quiet -- in its wake.
Now they no longer have to hide their Shiite last name. The eldest daughter does not have to put on an Islamic head scarf. Grocery shopping is not a death-defying act.
Although the painful act of leaving is behind them, their minds keep returning to the past, trying to process a violation that was as brutal as it was personal: young men from the neighborhood shot the children’s father as they watched. Later, the men took the house.
"I lost everything in one moment," said Rossel, the eldest daughter. "I don't know who I am now. I'm somebody different."
They are educated people, and they say they do not want revenge. But typical of those who are left from Iraq's reasonable middle, the Muhammads have been hardened toward others by violence, and they have been forced to feel their sectarian identity, a mental closing that allows war made by militants to spread.

The above is from Sabrina Tavernise's "Sectarian Toll Includes Scars to Iraq Psyche" in this morning's New York Times that reveals a little in the article but reveals a great deal about the paper. The lament for the "reasonable middle". It's how the paper could stay silent as feminists, gays and lesbians were targeted in Iraq. It's how the paper could ignore the attacks on the Iraqi press (and on the Arab press), it's how the paper could ignore the attacks on unionists. It's actually how the paper deals with every incident. The middle! The middle!

That is the focus of the paper always. The middle and the right. The left can just be dropped right out and has been in crisis after crisis, war after war. The hard right got armed and was allowed to go to town. The paper didn't care. Now the effects on the middle have been intense and the same paper (which continues to lie about the Iraqi oil law) sheds a few tears -- as if it's a surprise that when the left is under repeated fire, the middle comes next. When the left's being attacked, the paper's precious middle becomes the left because they are no longer a buffer zone and they are the group "to the left" of the hard right that the US has backed and armed. It's always escaped the paper's grasp that when the left vanishes, the middle becomes the left because there's no left left anymore.

Think about that when reading Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism. Think about the valentines that were awarded by Henry Kissinger or Pinochet and how a certain amount of killing was always acceptable to the "paper of record". The book comes out Tuesday and gets launched tonight in NYC at an event with Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) acting as moderator at the New York Soceity for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th Street." (The book is discussed at The Third Estate Sunday Review.)

Polly notes Peter Beaumont and Joanna Walters' "Greenspan admits Iraq was about oil, as deaths put at 1.2m" (The Sunday Observer):

In his long-awaited memoir - out tomorrow in the US - Greenspan, 81, who served as chairman of the US Federal Reserve for almost two decades, writes: 'I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.'
[. . .]
Greenspan's damning comments about the war come as a survey of Iraqis, which was released last week, claims that up to 1.2 million people may have died because of the conflict in Iraq - lending weight to a 2006 survey in the Lancet that reported similarly high levels.
More than one million deaths were already being suggested by anti-war campaigners, but such high counts have consistently been rejected by US and UK officials. The estimates, extrapolated from a sample of 1,461 adults around the country, were collected by a British polling agency, ORB, which asked a random selection of Iraqis how many people living in their household had died as a result of the violence rather than from natural causes.

While Greenspan is "saddened," Sally Field is bleeped by Fox. Appearing much later than the hour they usually do their jokes about having sex with pigs, Field attempted to say, "And, let's face it, if the mothers ruled the war, there would be no ____ wars in the first place." AP reports Field's take on the censorship, "Oh well. I've been there before. Well, good. I don't care. I have no comment other than, oh well. I said what I wanted to say. I wanted to pay homage to the mothers of the world, and let their work be seen and valued."

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