Sunday, May 18, 2008

And the war drags on . . .

Auburn-native Sgt. Matthis Chiroux, 24, said response to his public refusal to report to active duty and deploy to Iraq in June has been mostly positive.
Chiroux made the announcement Tuesday in Washington D.C.
"I'm receiving overwhelming support," the soldier said in a telephone interview Saturday.
Chiroux said he has received more than 300 e-mails supporting his decision.
But not all of the reaction has been good.
There have been some messages posted on web sites that have threatened bodily harm against the soldier.
"We are) still plagued by a minority on the far right that is completely okay with engaging in tactics to threaten and frighten us," he said.
Chiroux will depart from the nation’s capital this week and return to Brooklyn, N.Y., where he is currently a freshman studying political science at Brooklyn College.
Chiroux will then return to Washington D.C. in an attempt to win an audience with a committee in Congress.
He said the goal is to talk to Congress and build support for war resisters in the legislative branches of the government.

The above is from Brittany Whitley's "Soldier: Most response to anti-war stance positive" (Opelika Auburn News) and with Beverly Harvey, Whitley also writes "Auburn High graduate, U.S. soldier calls U.S. occupation illegal" (The Dothan Eagle):

Matthis Chiroux had it all planned out after he graduated from Auburn High School in 2002. First, he would join the U.S. Army. Then, he would use his G.I. Bill benefits to enroll in college to pursue his dream of becoming a lawyer. After college, Matthis planned to become a public defender and dabble in politics.
And the 24-year-old Army sergeant's dream was on track when he was honorably discharged last September. He wasted no time moving to New York City to attend college as a journalism and pre-law major. But less than six months after relocating, the Army came calling again. This time, they needed him to deploy to Iraq.
On Thursday, Matthis, joined by members of the nonprofit organization Iraq Veterans Against the War, publicly announced in Washington, D.C., his plans to ignore the Army's orders to report to Iraq on June 15. In a press conference held in the Cannon House Office Building, Matthis read a statement that said, in part:
"As an Army journalist whose job it was to collect and filter service members' stories, I heard many stomach-churning testimonies of the horrors and crimes taking place in Iraq. For fear of retaliation from the military, I failed to report these crimes, but never again will I allow fear to silence me. "Never again will I fail to stand. ... This occupation is unconstitutional and illegal, and I hereby lawfully refuse to participate, as I will surely be a party to war crimes. ..."

Thursday and Friday's snapshots noted Matthis Chiroux. He is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and they have a post on him, here for text and video. is the e-mail address to leave him a message. Whitley and Whitley and Harris are among the few in the press covering it (and you know Panhandle Media doesn't have time -- Goody ignored it in Friday's show and also ignored IVAW's Congressional testimony -- but $100,000 buys a lot of silence on the illegal war). Chiroux is taking a stand and it matters. The military is saying if he does what he's stated they may prosecute him for being AWOL. It's a very brave and very public stand and it is news. Even if some can't be bothered with it. Besides, it's time to plan a birthday party for a spoiled seventeen-year-old and you know that takes a too-involved parent days and days to do. Hopefully, American Idol will wrap up before the party, it would be a shame if the parent had to miss out on that.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war hit the 4,075 mark. And tonight? 4079. Today the US military announced: "One Multi-National Division – North Soldier was killed in an improvised explosive device attack in the Salah ad-Din Province when the Soldiers’ vehicle was struck by an IED, May 18." Just Foreign Policy's counter estimates that 1,209,263 Iraqis have been killed due to the Iraq War since it began. The fighting in Sadr City continues despite the cease-fire/truce with at least four killed today. 4 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today, five yesterday. Basra's not any safer with 4 dead today from armed clashes, 1 police officer shot dead and two more wounded.

Raviya H. Ismail (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "A U.S. Army soldier was removed from Iraq after he shot a Quran full of bullets and marked it with graffiti, the U.S. military announced Sunday." And you can be sure Panhandle Media will run with it. We will see commentaries and hear them, "Oh, it's just like Guantanamo!" (Not quite, Guantanamo is a gulag.) McClatchy's reporting and they report a great deal that goes on in Iraq. The point isn't that this isn't news. The point isn't that it doesn't deserve some attention. The point is that the same Panhandle Media that REFUSED to cover the gang-rape and murder of Abeer, the same Panhandle Media that refuses to cover war resistance, will likely leap on this. If they do, the same ones who can't make time for Iraq, you need to ask why that is?

Does the story of a Quran do anything to end the illegal war? No. Does it have anything to do with anything? No. Unlike Guantanamo, this doesn't appear to have been a common practice for the soldier's unit or he wouldn't be removed now. Were it a common practice, everyone would have shrugged. Unlike Guantanamo, Iraq is a war zone and, my opinion, better a book gets shot up than a person -- if those are the choices. Was it a practical joke? Probably not. It was probably an expression of rage and, in that case, better it was a book than a civilian.

But this is the kind of story you can see all of them getting ready to write their quarterly piece (or deliver their quarterly commentary) on Iraq about. This is what they'll toss out, the crumbs and we won't get anything of value. An enraged soldier shot up a book. It will be cluck-cluck over that while Abeer -- an actual person, a fourteen-year-old girl -- was gang-raped and murdered by US soldiers and Katrina vanden Heuvel, Amy Goodman, Norman Solomon, John Nichols, Matthew Rothschild, etc. couldn't make the time of day to cover that.

But this is the story that is made for high horses. "Oh, this is just awful! This is so disrespectful!" blah, blah, blah. A soldier defaced a book and shot it up. If he'd done it in the US to the Bible, would anyone on the left really work themselves up into a frenzy? I doubt it.

And it's these little nothing stories that they get worked up over and try to pass off as Iraq 'coverage.' (Again, I'm not insulting McClatchy. It's news. Any outlet that regularly covers Iraq has every obligation to cover it. I'm talking about the people who can't be bothered with Iraq but will use this to push their own personal nonsense while refusing to cover Iraq.)

This is one of those cluck-cluck, "See, we told you!" pieces for them. You told us nothing. You've done nothing. When actual crimes take place, you stay silent. Day after day. When service members resist the war, you stay silent. Day after day. But though they'll try to pass it off as Iraq coverage, it's not. It is a tool that outlaws them to grind their axe and poison the well. That's all they're really about.

Read the McClatchy article and the quotes from Iraqis. It's doubtful those mounting the high horses will. Maybe they can turn it into a story of racism or xenophobia? They love those things. They don't like to cover the illegal war, however. Most likely, it's the story of American men and women sent into an illegal war, trapped there, losing their grip and having the wits to 'attack' a book and not a person when the boiling point is reached. And the boiling point is always reached because nothing is done by our 'independent' media 'leaders' to end the illegal war, let alone cover it.

Trey e-mails to point out Greg Mitchell finally discovers the story that Blake pointed out here last week.

New content at Third:

Truest statement of the week
A note to our readers
Editorial: The teachable moment
TV: The return of I Dream of Jeannie
Ty's Point of View
Dahr Jamail doesn't know how to research
Come out of your closets before you Awake and Sing...
John Edwards: Professional Boy-Toy
Liars & Losers
3 Things

Be sure to read Ty's piece. It's (I believe) only the third solo piece he's ever done and it's very well written.

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