In the Shadows of Abu Ghraib Prison
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
The color photos coming out of the dreaded Abu Ghraib prison on Baghdads outskirts are racing around the world, silent yet eloquent testament to what Americans really think about the people they allegedly came here to liberate.
The photos, especially in the age of the Internet, are racing through the Arab and Muslim world showing a side of the American character that seldom gets to be seen, especially abroad. The photos of naked Arab men, some posed with laughing, jeering U.S. women, is the height of humiliation and tells everyone who can see that Americans hold the Iraqis and, by extension, other Arabs, in utter contempt. This is not America, a politician huffs. I am appalled, yet another exclaims. Yet what is truly appalling and perhaps more chilling than the naked, human pyramids shown is the sheer glee shown in the faces of the Americans.
The photos flashed in British tabloids, of soldiers urinatingpissing!on naked Iraqis, tells the same baleful tale. These are the actions of contempt, hatred, disrespectand conquest. Are the Americans and the British liberators or occupiers? One need look no further than the faces in the photos of Abu Ghraib for the answer.
When speaking recently with Emory Douglas, the celebrated former minister of culture of the Black Panther Party, and chief graphic artist of its famed newspaper, The Black Panther, Emory brought to mind an image that is almost lost in history. He reminded me of a police raid on the West Philadelphia offices of the Black Panther Party, on August 31, 1970, when the police, armed with automatic weapons, stripped men in the streets.
I also thought of the infamous Charles Stuart case, from Boston, when a white man claimed a Black man killed his wife. The cops descended on Roxbury, Black Boston, like a plague. They stripped men in the streets of Beantown. Many of the Americans working in the prisons of Iraq, especially in the reserves, are cops or prison guards in their civilian lives. Indeed, one of the men identified as a suspect in the brutal mistreatment of people in Abu Ghraib, a corporal in the Army, works here, at SCI-Greene! The horrific treatment of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib has its dark precedents in the prisons and police stations across America. Journalist Seymour Hersch of The New Yorker magazine has alleged that there have been cases of sodomy against Iraqis there at Abu Ghraib, and even killing.
Does the name Abner Louima ring a bell? If you hate someone, if you disrespect them, if you fear them, how can you liberate them? As we have said from the very beginning, the Iraq adventure is not, and never has been, about liberating an oppressed people. Indeed, a recent CNN/USA Today poll suggests Iraqis have come to that conclusion, with 71 percent stating Americans are occupiers. Americans may call it liberation, but they are bringing torture, humiliation and domination.
Nor are these events the work of people who are untrained, poorly trained, or the always useful bad apples. As we have suggested above, many of those who are there in Iraq, and hundreds of the people working in Abu Ghraib prison, were reservists, and came from jobs as prison guards and cops in civilian life. They are perhaps better trained than the average M.P.
Dont buy it. It is somehow fitting that these depraved acts have happened in one of the most dreadful gulags of the Hussein regime. It shows the continuity of torture and terror. Now let U.S. prepare for the inevitable whitewash. Those of U.S. who know history are certainit is sure to come.
Copyright © Mumia Abu-Jamal, May 28, 2004