Thursday, June 11, 2009

I Hate The War

This is from California State Senator Mark Leno's website:

California Lawmakers Call on Obama to Stop Violence Against LGBT Iraqis
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Forty-five members of the California Legislature urge the Administration to take immediate action to prevent the ongoing persecution of LGBT people in Iraq

SACRAMENTO -- Forty-five members of the California Legislature, led by Senator Mark Leno and the LGBT Legislative Caucus, have called on the Obama Administration to prevent the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Iraq. The lawmakers sent a letter to the Administration late last week encouraging the United States to take immediate action to stop the violence against LGBT Iraqis.

Disturbing reports of the torture, beating and killing of LGBT Iraqis have surfaced in recent months as part of an effort led by police officers to "clean up" Iraq by getting both beggars and gays and lesbians off the streets. This year alone, 63 people, most of them men and boys suspected of being gay, have been tortured or killed as a result of religious decrees against LGBT people in Iraq.

"The unspeakable violence by religious zealots against gay and lesbian Iraqis, financed by our tax dollars, violates basic human rights and goes against our purpose of being in that country -- to bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people," said Senator Leno (D-San Francisco). "We have called on President Obama to condemn these actions and encourage national and international leaders to apply immediate and necessary pressure on the Iraqi government to prevent these atrocities and protect the life and liberty of all Iraqi people."

The letter, which was sent to the Obama Administration on June 5, explains that the Iraqi government is violating its obligations as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Covenant states that the Iraqi government has an obligation to protect the right to life and the right of all its citizens "to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment."

Forty-five California lawmakers signed the letter, including all four members of the LGBT Legislative Caucus: Senator Leno, Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles).

View a copy of the letter to the Obama Administration regarding the persecution of LGBT Iraqis.

California has not been silent on this issue. The city councils in San Francisco and Los Angeles have weighed in. Where's New York? Where's the state or the city? They're always acting as if they're so advanced. (And isn't the New York Post the height of sophistication? Oh, that's right, it's not.) So where are they? California, the state Barack just Jerry Ford-ed, is standing up. Where are the others?

It's not just that California is leading the procession, it's that all the ones in the march are pretty much from the state as well. Massachusetts can point to Barney Frank, Colorado to Jared Polis and Wisconsin to Tammy Baldwin because those three members of Congress are asking for some accountability on this issue. But where is everyone else?

My goodness, you'd think it was 1984 and you were being asked to kiss your in-the-closet leading man the way everyone's turned into such a Nervous Nellie. You can't get AIDs from kissing. We're all smarter now. But apparently not very smart because if we had half a clue, we'd be screaming our heads off and demanding that the the US troops Barack says are in Iraq for "democracy" and "liberation" were not being used to prop up a government which launches homophobic attacks on its citizens.

Jim's breathing a sigh of relief right now because an hour ago, we'd roughed out a feature on this issue for Third. Right about now, he's grasping I went a different way here.

But where is everyone on this issue and why are so many treating it as a 'gay issue' and one that only the LGBT press should be concerned with?

When Germany was liberated, would the United Sates have tolerated the continued persecution of the Jews? No. And we shouldn't be tolerating the persecution of the LGBT community. We shouldn't be acting like we're okay with it but that's what our silence indicates.

Nouri al-Maliki would have been overthrown some time ago if US troops were not on the ground in Iraq. Nouri's the one signing off on this. He's over it. (And I think Boston's The Edge has done great work on this subject and on tracing it up to the Ministry of the Interior but it goes all the way up to Nouri.)

The US has less and less influence in Iraq, despite (or because of) being an occupying power. As women's rights continue to vanish and the LGBT community continues to be persecuted, why is the US still in Iraq?

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4309. Tonight? 4311.

We'll close with Vince's highlight, this is from John Pilger's "Smile On The Face Of The Tiger" (ZNet):

Naturally, unlike George W Bush, Obama did not say that "you're either with us or against us". He smiled the smile and uttered "many eloquent mood-music paragraphs and a smattering of quotations from the Holy Quran", noted the American international lawyer John Whitbeck. Beyond this, Obama offered no change, no plan, only a "tired, morally bankrupt American mantra [which] essentially argues that only the rich, the strong, the oppressors and the enforcers of injustice (notably the Americans and Israelis) have the right to use violence, while the poor, the weak, the oppressed and the victims of oppression must . . . submit to their fate and accept whatever crumbs their betters may magnanimously deign suitable to let fall from their table". And he offered not the slightest recognition that the world's most numerous victims of terrorism are people of Muslim faith - a terrorism of western origin that dares not speak its name.
In his "reaching out" in Cairo, as in his "anti-nuclear" speech in Berlin, as in the "hope" he spun at his inauguration, this clever young politician is playing the part for which he was drafted and promoted. This is to present a benign, seductive, even celebrity face to American power, which can then proceed towards its strategic goal of dominance, regardless of the wishes of the rest of humanity and the rights and lives of our children.

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