Mohamed Khodr’s Column
“There are only two powers in the world…the sword of the oppressor and the spirit of the oppressed. In the long run, the sword is always defeated by the spirit.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s speech on October 2 at the Labor Party Conference 2001 must be required reading in world history for any surviving future generations who would seek to understand and analyze why a “Clash of Civilizations” in the third Millennium ended most of the existing human race at that time. The speech underlies the historical ignorance, arrogance, prejudice and self anointed civilized superiority of how the white rich educated Christian world living in the northern hemisphere perceives the inhabitants of their former colonies in the southern hemisphere as the dark, illiterate, uncivilized, and inferior, mostly non-Christian, race in need of a another civilizing “re-order” in their lives to conform to the acceptable western standards of faith, culture, and suitable behavior.
It is a speech that acknowledges the failure of Europe’s first colonial attempt to bring “order” and civilization to the inferior southern race, a historical attempt that was marred by a lack of appreciation of a black man’s worth, life, intellect, ownership of land or country, freedoms, or justice. However, Mr. Blair declares passionately that earlier mistakes will be corrected and thus good will come out of the evil of September 11, a plea echoed by President Bush. He vows that out of the death and rubble of America the western world will unite once again not to seek revenge but to seek compassion, social justice, freedoms, economic opportunity, and a revelation and appreciation that all lives are equal in God’s eyes. This time the colonialists will care, really care about the lives and welfare of the uncivilized “other”. He boasts:
“So I believe this is a fight for freedom. And I want to make it a fight for justice too. Justice not only to punish the guilty. But justice to bring those same values of democracy and freedom to people round the world.
And I mean: freedom, not only in the narrow sense of personal liberty but in the broader sense of each individual having the economic and social freedom to develop their potential to the full. That is what community means, founded on the equal worth of all.
The starving, the wretched, the dispossessed, the ignorant, those living in want and squalor from the deserts of Northern Africa to the slums of GAZA, to the mountain ranges of Afghanistan: they too are our cause.”
While Mr. Blair’s JIHAD (struggle) to alleviate world injustice and inequality is commendable and desperately needed, perhaps a reality check on the status of the “uncivilized” world would give Mr. Blair pause to limit his zeal for “re-ordering the world around us” in the western image to perhaps killing the “terrorists du jour” as expediently defined by the western empires.
According to: ISSUES IN SOCIETY, YEAR 2000
According to the World Bank, a sixth of the world’s population (primarily the people of North America, Europe, and Japan) received nearly 80% of world income, an average of $70 per day, in 1998 – at the same time, the 57% of the world’s population in the 63 poorest countries received only 6% of world income, an average of less than $2 per day. (p.1)
Worldwide, 1.2 billion people subsist on less than a dollar a day.
A quarter of the world’s population, 1.3 billion people, live in severe poverty – nearly 800 million people do not get enough food, and about 500 million people are chronically malnourished. More than a third of children are malnourished. (p.4)
In industrial countries more than 100 million people live below the poverty line, more than 5 million people are homeless and 37 million are jobless. (p.4)
Of the world’s 23 million people living with HIV/AIDS more than 93% live in developing countries. (p.4)
More than 840 million adults are illiterate – 538 million of them are women. (p.4)
Around 2 million children died as a result of armed conflict in the last decade. (p.4)
In developing countries 160 million pre-school children are underweight.
1.2 billion people live without access to safe drinking water. (p.4)
110 million landmines lie undetonated in 68 countries. (p.4)
The net wealth of the 10 richest billionaires is $133 billion, more than 1.5 times the total national income of the least developed countries. (p.4)
The cost of eradicating poverty is 1% of global income. (p.4)
Effective debt relief to the 20 poorest countries would cost $5.5 billion – equivalent to the cost of building EuroDisney. (p.4)
Providing universal access to basic social services and transfers to alleviate income poverty would cost $80 billion, less than the net worth of the seven richest men in the world. (p.4)
Six countries can spend $700 million in nine days on dog and cat food. (p.4)
Today’s world spends $92 billion on junk food, $66 billion on cosmetics and nearly $800 billion in 1995 for defense expenditure.
So you see Mr. Blair, it is a daunting task. I’m sure you’re also aware that the western foreign aid to the impoverished nations has decreased in the last decade. In real per capita terms, net Overseas Development Aid to the Least Developed Countries has dropped by 45 per cent since 1990 and is now back to the levels at which it was in the early 1970s. (United Nations 2000)
It may seem to the Muslim and Third World that proclamations of “new world order” only arise out of western capitals when western interests are afflicted. President George Bush Sr. proclaimed a “new world order” in 1991 when Iraq invaded Kuwait and oil flow was threatened. At that time such a global vision simply translated to Iraqi deaths that continue to this day courtesy of Bush and Blair, more Israeli killing of Palestinians, more settlements, more land confiscation, and more billions and weapons from the American taxpayer, while the “civilized compassionate west” simply stood by as Russia massacred Chechnyans and India slaughtered Kashmiris. Thus the elder Bush’s new world “order” was a bust, a failure, a lie, and ploy to form a coalition that simply gave cover for American troops to defeat Iraq, but more importantly to allow America to establish military bases that it has always coveted and lusted in the Persian Gulf (so why is Israel important?) But like all good crusading Christians who deem God on their side, President Bush Sr. while visiting the troops in the Persian Gulf declared: “I’m delighted that I’ve been invited out here today to salute you, who, in my view, are doing the LORD’s work” (AFP January 19, 2000)
But Tony Blair’s speech assures us that the new newer “world order” of today to fight one man and his impoverished protectors is of a grander more ambitious humanitarian scale that is sure to succeed. Thus after the the “smart” bombs annihilate the dead country and hungry people of Afghanistan, the west will share its values of “compassion”—i.e., we will feed them either before or after the slaughter, we will rebuild them in our own “civilized” image, we will educate them, we will bring democracy to their nation. Mr. Blair points out that Afghanistan is currently undemocratic because: “There is no sport allowed, or television or photography.” It’s reassuring that the Afghan children will learn rugby, watch “British Men Behaving Badly” on television, and will be able to photograph their dead mothers and fathers for suitable framing.
Blair’s vision of the future is nothing short of a colonial miracle. From the pulpit of the United Kingdom that raped and colonized most of the world, especially 85% of the Muslim world including Afghanistan, that drew borders of nations evicting entire populations, Tony Blair’s messianic message to the southern hemisphere is: “LET US RE-ORDER THE WORLD AROUND US”. Unbelievable arrogance that the only suitable life on this planet is a Bush/Blair-like life. No other history, no other culture, faith or beliefs need exist. The southern hemisphere must once again be grateful for the civlizing sacrifice of the old empires. As is customary in colonial politics there is no frame of reference of historical truths. Truth becomes what is said by the white man and his institutions, especially his global media conglomerates where the colonial sword and cannon has been replaced by the image and the sound byte. Thus only western blood, western pain, western grief, western suffering, and western loss is really worthy of panoramic images set to haunting music. In the West, every event from birth to death is recorded and captured lest it be forgotten. We in the west have developed a highly sophisticated threshold of an emotive response. Our brain synapses are no longer chemical and biological but are replaced by the hardware and software of cables and satellites. The word is dead, image is everything. What’s in our interest becomes the truthful word and photographed image until “rhetoric becomes reality” and what is not we simply ignore and turn the camera off. If it’s not on the tube it simply didn’t happen. As a journalist once said: “He who controls the news controls the views.” In this virtual world the irrational becomes the rational. Case in point, the western colony of Israel. Although Israel is the occupier, is the oppressor, is the murderer, is the only nuclear power in the region, is the torturer, is the human rights abuser of Palestinians–the tube says Israel is the victim fighting for its very existence against Palestinian stone throwers. Thus sayeth the tube, thus must be the truth.
Mr. Blair describes in vivid haunting detail the pain of a mother who’s lost her son, a woman, seven months pregnant, whose child will never know its father. Mr. Blair, there are thousands of women, men, and children who die every day around the world. But because they are not of your image and thus worth, they die as unmentionables, untouchables, and un–photographed. Where may I ask is your empathy and compassion for these “non-white” women? When Sharon annihilated Beirut in the summer of 1982 where I spent my days and nights pulling shrapnels out of little bodies and pregnant wombs, shrapnels made by America, where were you to speak of their suffering and pain? When Sharon allowed the massacre of 2000 Palestinian women and children in Sabra and Chatila, where were you, where was Bush, were were the TV cameras, where was Mike Wallace, Dan Rather, Bob Simon, William Safire, Charles Krauthammer, Cal Thomas, Jeff Jacoby, George Will, Bill O’Reilly, Daniel Pipes, Steve Emerson, Don Feder, Edward Luttwak, Mark Halprin, and the rest of Israel’s legions who are frothing at the opportunity to kill any Muslim who dares fight Israel’s inhumanity to an entire Palestinian race, damn America’s long term interests? To this day the entire west including you pander to this murderer and say nothing of his past. You even had to beg him to see your Foreign Secretary. He thumbs his nose at Bush denying any cooperation or at least providing a false pretense of negotiations to allow Bush to enlist Muslims to kill other Muslims. So, Mr. Bush, is Sharon with us or against us. It doesn’t matter, does it, you, Blair and the rest of the “democratic, civilized, human right observers” are too cowardly to confront Israel and its powerful rich Beltway Boys. You, Mr. Blair, are responsible for 1.5 million dead Iraqi’s and over 5000 Iraqi children who die each month of hunger and disease. Madeline Albright without any thought said that these Iraqi deaths are “worth it”.
In a fit of irrational retrograde rationalization of why the west didn’t care about black lives during the Rwandan massacres that cost the lives of 1 million people: Mr. Blair said:
“People say: we are only acting because it’s the USA that was attacked. Double standards, they say….And I tell you if Rwanda happened again today as it did in 1993, when a million people were slaughtered in cold blood, we would have a moral duty to act there also.”
It’s good to know you’ll act today in Rwanda but that still doesn’t explain why you didn’t act then. Can you share with us the rationale why you and Clinton decided 1 million black men were not worth your intervention? Why did it take four years of Serbian ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims for you to act? But there is time, Mr. Blair to prove there is no double standard and that you truly care equally for all peoples. Will you stand up to Israel’s ethnic cleansing and daily murder of Palestinians, to Russia’s ethnic cleansing of Chechnyans, to India’s ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri’s?
I won’t hold my breath, Mr. Blair. You, Sir, President Bush, the European Union, and the United Nations have only been consistently proactive and action oriented when Christian or Jewish lives are at stake, even more so with Jewish lives. It makes my head spin how fast NATO would have intervened with overwhelming power had it been Jews dying in Bosnia, not Muslims. Even the late President Nixon concurred with that conclusion.
But, and here’s the big BUT, you may wish to consider in “trying” to understand terrorism: TO YOU AND THE WEST MUSLIM BLOOD IS WORTHLESS, CHEAP, EXPEDIENT, AND UNWORTHY OF TV PICTURES LEST ORDINARY CARING CITIZENS CARRY OUT A “CHRISTIAN INTIFADAH” AGAINST YOU AND THE MEDIA FOR LEADING THEIR SONS AND DAUGHTERS TO DIE UNDER FALSE PRETENSES FIGHTING A FAITH THAT HONORS MOSES AND JESUS..
NO, Mr. Blair, save us the eloquent words and passages. Save us the “mission impossible” of your new “world order”. Save us your hypocrisy and save the world from the historical double standard of the “civilized” west. More than save us from your words, save us from your bombs and bullets.
Shockingly it took almost 2000 years for the west and Catholic church (Vatican II Council 1965) to even acknowledge that Islam is a legitimate faith of 1.4 billion people. Mr. Blair is absolutely correct when he says the west is ignorant of Islam, a damnable confession considering there are millions of Muslims in England. From its very inception Islam has been condemned, cursed, and misrepresented in western politics and literature. It’s also been attacked by the Crusades, Inquisition, Colonialism and its recent offshoot Zionism. From Israel’s very founding David Ben Gurion, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres have condemned Islam as the real enemy of Israel. Could it be that the arrogance of Europeans toward Islam was based on the fact that their messiah was God himself, the Son of God who came to only save Christians and Islam’s prophet was simply a mere man with no miracles to his credit? It was always black and white: Jews were Christ killers and Muslims were infidels. That arrogance and ignorance of Islam continues to contaminate the world’s conscience today being regurgitated in the mouths of ignorant politicians, clergy, media pundits, and movies. From Italy’s Prime Minister who to his credit honestly stated the western belief that the west and Christianity are civilized and superior to Islam to the TV “experts” (usually Jewish Americans or Christian Zionists) who make a living spewing stupidity and ignorance of Islam. Interestingly how one of these “experts” once asked me: “Mohamed, are you Catholic?”
Islam has become the last refuge for western bigotry and prejudice. Such racist attitudes shifted from color bashing to faith bashing. The western propensity to violently oppose any threats to its God given superiority has manifested itself from the mundane “Race Rage” to “Islam Rage”.
No rational discourse is welcome at times of peace regarding Islam and the Middle East much less at this time of tension and conflict. Suddenly, the west is asking itself “what is Islam”, a faith 1400 years old and thriving in the west and the world as the fastest growing religion.
Thousands of Americans were murdered innocently. The guilty must be punished. Islam didn’t kill them, it was murderous terrorists acting against their faith, if they as alleged they were Muslims. The Muslim world must be fierce in opposing and condemning any terrorist acts against civilians not involved in a conflict. Fighting Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land is an internationally recognized right despite the Pro-Israel lobby’s influence on our government to declare such legitimate resistance as “terrorism”. It is American cowardice and pandering to Jewish Americans that has allowed Israel to brutally continue its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza since 1967 when the U.S. supported U.N. Resolutions 242, 338.
More Americans and people around the world will die if the reigns of our future and destiny in this country is left in the hands of the few, the opportunists, the Zionists. Attacking Afghanistan will give us a brief high where Americans will drink beer and high five each other, but it will not, I repeat not deter many other who will seek to avenge their “cause” regardless of its merits. Terrorism is an idea in people’s hearts and minds. It can only be defeated by a superior, better, more logical and understanding idea. Let’s punish the real perpetrators and then we must as a nation look into our prejudices, our ignorance, our governmental policies, our media, our movies, our books, and our faith to rationally address our role and politics around the world. We must abandon the logic of power for the power of logic.
Don’t you wonder why when America the sole superpower that has relationships with 55 Muslim nations that our government does not have one American Muslim in its national or foreign security apparatus? That none of our media have an American Muslim on their editorial staff or as a columnist? That none of the “experts” on television are American Muslims? That none in our entire Congress is an American Muslim (yet the Senate has 10 Jewish Senators and the House has 23 Jewish Representatives who do nothing but look after Israel’s interest). Why so few letters or opinion pieces in our papers are from American Muslims–they refuse to run our opinions since again we are unworthy and oppose our doormat pandering to Israel. Much more goes on than this.
Mr. Blair ended his speech with: “This is a moment to seize. The Kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do, LET US RE-ORDER THIS WORLD AROUND US”
The Past is Prologue, Mr. Blair. Why don’t all of us in unison re-order the world around peace, justice, and a healthy respect for all faiths and for all peoples.
Americans Are Beautiful, not our government. Perhaps we can be beautiful and intelligent too.
I pray to God that our dead may find peace and mercy with Him and that He blesses their families with patience and strength and heal the injured.
“To Him we belong, and To Him we shall return” (Holy Qur’an)
(Read: Paul Findley’s: “They Dare To Speak” or George Ball’s: “The Passionate Attachment”, or check out www.cactus48.org)
Mr. Mohamed Khodr is an American Muslim physician and a native from the Middle East. He has worked in Academic Medicine and Public health with national and international health experience. He is a freelance writer who often writes columns on the Palestinian cause, Islam and on America’s Foreign Policy in the Middle East. He lives in the Washington DC area.