Gruesome days

The gruesome video of the beheading of Nick Berg by alleged Islamic terrorists proves that the antiwar movement was accurate in warning that George W. Bush’s war on Iraq would breed more violence, hatred, and revenge. According to his family, Berg had been arrested and held incommunicado for two weeks by Iraqi police and then detained by the U.S. military until his parents filed a lawsuit against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld demanding his release. The day after they filed suit, Berg was released.

One of the masked killers on the video claims that Berg’s execution is “revenge” for the torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib by U.S. soldiers.

How long will this mad cycle of retaliation and revenge continue? How many more must die?

A grieving father is right to relate his son’s death to the unconstitutional USA Patriot Act and the “war on terrorism.” The father, Michael Berg, told reporters, “We could have gotten [Nick] out of there before the hostilities escalated. I still hold [Rumsfeld] responsible. But it goes further than Donald Rumsfeld. It’s the whole Patriot Act … rights don’t matter anymore because there are terrorists.”

In essence, he asks: How could George W. Bush, who flouts democracy at home, ever bring democracy to Iraq?

We join with the millions around the world who have condemned the horrific beheading of Berg – a Jewish American – and the acts of torture at Abu Ghraib. Acts of terrorism play into the hands of the Bush-Cheney gang who use these crimes to justify their own barbarous acts of war. We who struggle for peace can never condone atrocities whether perpetrated by Zarqawi or by Rumsfeld. Our goal must be to break the cycle of violence.

A first step is forcing Rumsfeld to resign. Rumsfeld is a “hands-on” and “in charge” defense secretary, shaping military policies. He defended the interrogation “techniques” used in Iraq. Bush went to the Pentagon earlier this week and hailed Rumsfeld as a “superb Secretary of Defense” who will remain in his cabinet. For Dubya, it was back to business as usual. Rumsfeld is not fit for government service and should be tried as a war criminal. That would be a real boost for democracy and decency.

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Racism’s footprint

Bush claims the torture at Abu Ghraib was committed by a “few.” The Republican right accuses critics of Bush of engaging in “partisan attacks” and giving comfort to the “terrorists.” This slime and defend strategy suggests that the Bush-Cheney crew intend to continue the torture and abuse. The White House punctuated that fact by delivering to Congress a supplemental request for $25 billion payable immediately to continue the war.

The torture, war and occupation are racist policies aimed at dehumanizing and subjugating an entire people. These practices are deeply embedded and pervasive in capitalism and exploitation, reaching back to chattel slavery, the extermination of American Indians, and the annexation of nearly half of Mexico, all justified by the ideology of white supremacy.

Just this week the U.S. Justice Department was forced to reopen the Emmett Till case, 55 years after the 14-year-old child was lynched by Klansmen in Mississippi. An all-white jury acquitted the killers, who later bragged about the killing. African Americans, Middle Easterners and other people of color still face brutality at the hands of “law enforcement.”

That side of U.S. history (and present-day reality) was on display in the cellblock in Abu Ghraib prison.

Racism tears at the very fiber of humanity and democracy. We are at a crossroads. Do we as a country allow such policies to “stay the course” or do we decide that these policies, which are based on lies, imperialism and racism, need to come to an end? This paper has advocated the latter.

The American people have been horrified at the evidence of torture and abuse of the Iraqi detainees. Bring in the UN to facilitate a quick transfer to real Iraqi sovereignty. Removing the war criminals from office Nov. 2 will be a setback to racism and degradation.