Appeared in Lakbimanews Sunday 30 December, 2012
Chickens Coming Home to Roost?
Hameed Abdul Karim
Watching Barack Obama on TV, wiping a tear in his left eye as he spoke in his usual Harvard eloquence at the memorial service for the little children who died in the dreadful terror in Newtown Connecticut, reminds those of us who have seen the movie ‘Godfather’ of Marlon Brando giving out a short but heart rending sob on hearing of his son Sonny’s assassination in the movie ‘Godfather’. Obama’s lump in the throat speech must, of a necessity, move us all who still claim to be human for indeed this was a tragedy beyond comprehension.
So was it Obama the politician that was crying or was it the human in him that was moved to tears? That’s a tough question, maybe even rude and insensitive. But hard questions have to be asked. Here is a president who for the first time in history had ordered the extra judicial murders of US citizens without batting an eyelid.Here is a president who takes a lot of his time to personally plan, supervise and execute murders of numerous people by drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. And here is the president who won the Nobel Prize for peace. Here is a president who cries when little children in his country are brutally murdered. He went on to mention names of all those poor little children who perished in that horrible slaughter. Does he know the name of single child he has killed in Afghanistan? Conservative calculations indicate that the US has killed 176 children in Pakistan alone in its drone attacks.
Children of a lesser god?
Has Obama seen any of the Afghan parents cry out in anguish as they look for body parts of their children in the rubbles left behind by drone attacks so that they could at least give them a decent burial? What makes the death of children in Connecticut and Afghanistan different? Is it the colour of their skins? Why didn’t the deaths of 600,000 children in Iraq because of US sponsored UN sanctions move us the same way we were moved on hearing of the slaughter of children in Connecticut? Where are our sympathies when we hear the US has killed children in Afghanistan, Palestine or Pakistan?Are the coloured children among us less valuable and less treasured by their parents than the ones slaughtered in Connecticut? Or are their deaths acceptable because the media has dehumanised them and in the process desensitised us ‘news’ consumers? When tossing these questions in your mind please remember the words of then US secretary of state Madeline Albright on the deaths of the Iraqi children. She justified the deaths without any remorse saying they were necessary in the larger scheme of things to come.
The Connecticut killings were not an isolated incident. In 1995 Timothy McVeigh carried out the Oklahoma City bombing. In 1999 we saw the Colorado massacre. In 2007 we had the Virginia Tech attack. And in 2012 we have already witnessed massacres at a cinema in Colorado, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, a business in Minneapolis, a SPA also at Wisconsin and recently at a mall in Oregon. Now comes the Connecticut massacre and all the world hopes against hope that there will not be another one anywhere on earth ever again.
But then we are looking at only one side of the story. There is another take. What is it that has brutalised American society to this extent? The fact of the matter is that America has been at war every day in one place or another for at least a hundred years. Its war and oppression in Palestine in collaboration with the apartheid state of Israel continues to this day. So you can imagine the impact or effect America’s wars have had on minds of the ordinary Americans as they watch one gory scene of war after another on their TV sets every day. Mass murder of ordinary civilians in America’s ‘war on terror’ is glorified and those who commit these crimes are decorated as heroes. The tragedy about heroes is that their victims see them as villains. Why, we had the extra judicial killing (aka murder) of an unarmed Osama bin Laden televised live to the White House and watched by Obama, Hilary Clinton and Company. Celebrations followed with Adam Lanza probably joining the partying outside the White House. Adam Lanza and other US killers have grown up in an environment that has glorified mass killings. And we are not talking of renditions and other CIA operations that continue to kill hundreds of people. Bear in mind the CIA’s many attempts to murder Fidel Castro. So it’s not possible to believe that Adam Lanza was not influenced by the glorification by the government and its media of a culture of killings that continues unabated as we speak. Add to this toxic mix the mind deranging movies that Hollywood produces and you have a recipe for disaster merely for the asking.
Combine the toxic mix with the pathetic plight of 99% of Americans living from one pay day to another - that is, assuming most of them have jobs with all that’s happening in the empire’s belly. Many are the millions who have lost their homes to the frauds perpetrated by the big banks. 1% of Americans hold the entire nation to ransom. In this fossilised economic system you find that the HSBC, known by its brand name as the ‘biggest bank in the world’, was convicted of laundering drug money for Mexican drug barons. And the upshot of it all was that it was fined US $ 1.93 billion with not even a whisper of a jail sentence. Many are the lesser mortals who languish in US jails for retail drug pedaling and minor crimes, but here we have the HSBC found guilty of laundering drug money and getting away with just a rap on the knuckles. The fine is peanuts compared to what the bank has made for itself. You can be sure its top shots will be given handsome retirement benefits running into millions of dollars.
As long as these injustices and inequalities continue there is always a prospect of another Adam Lanza cropping up somewhere in the US.
Talking of banking scandals, RT’s Max Keiser couldn’t have put it better when he said the HSBC was protected by the plutocrats because they believe it’s too big to fail and its chairman and directors too big to go to jail. Now that’s saying a mouthful.