Sunday, April 6, 2008

And Let's Not Forget: The Troops Are Also Racists!

No leftist theatre, such as the Iraq Veterans Against the War's recently held Winter Soldier (Non-) Investigation (WSI), would be complete unless America and in this case its troops were not subjected to the charge of endemic racism. It is integral to all such scripts.

While most of the post-WSI focus has understandably been on the war crime and atrocity related testimonies that were given, or were not given and were inexplicably missing, little attention has been paid to the panels on Racism and War: the Dehumanization of the Enemy.

Much of the testimony centered on the use of the word "Haji" by our forces in Iraq and was framed in the methods we have become used to in the drive for political correctness on campuses, where a deviation from the PC "norms"of thought and/or language is taken as prima facie proof of racism or other bigotry. One of the prominent IVAW purveyors of the racism/dehumanizing charge was Geoff Millard, who has been pursuing a BA in African-American Studies, a field of study often mired in perpetuating victimhood.

The line is that out forces, from top to bottom, use the word Haji in reference to Iraqis and others, and in doing so dehumanize those people! That, according to the enlightened, intentionally leads to users of the words being able to kill such people indiscriminately and without remorse.

In a July 2006 interview with Amy Goodman, Millard was asked for his reaction to the Mahmudiya rape and killings. Since then four soldiers have already been convicted for those crimes with prison sentences as high as ninety, one hundred and one hundred and ten years, and one more faces civilian trial in 2009 and possibly the death penalty.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to bring Geoffrey Millard into this conversation...Can you talk from your perspective as a U.S. soldier who has returned, your reaction to this [Mahmudiya] story?

GEOFFREY MILLARD: Well, to be perfectly honest with you, Amy, it’s not very shocking to me. It surprises me that most Americans are very surprised by this, in that to the American G.I., they are taught from the day that they land in Kuwait and every moment that they move north into Iraq and every moment they’re in Iraq, they’re taught to dehumanize Iraqi people. This term “haji” is very prevalent, and to the Muslim world, the term “haji” is actually a term of endearment for those who have completed that pillar of Islam, who have made the Hajj to Mecca. But to the U.S. military, it’s a term of dehumanization, one that’s used so that the American G.I. can kill without question and who can follow an order to kill someone without question, whether it’s in a gunfight or any other situation.
That is prima-facie proof of what a self-serving cretinous lout Millard is. The rape of a fourteen year old girl, followed by the killing of her and her family by Americans is shocking. For Millard to say it is not and that he was not surprised by such as we shouldn't be is a vicious and ungrounded charge, but well suited to the Millard/IVAW smear machine.

Millard followed that up with his oft told story, including told at Winter Soldier, of the killing of an Iraqi family by a young American manning a machine gun at a checkpoint. Millard had repeatedly used that story to as an intro to his recounting officers using the dehumanizing term "Haji". Yet there is no connection in Millard's story to using the term Haji and the killing! None! By Millard's own account, the soldier opened fire on the car carrying the family when that car was speeding toward the checkpoint and the soldier made the decision that this was a threat approaching! If the soldier opened fire because the car was occupied by dehumanized Hajis, why wouldn't he open fire at all such cars driven by Hajis regardless of particular actions, and not the one speeding toward the checkpoint!

Such critical thought eludes Goodman and the bobble heads in the Winter Soldier audience.

The ever unreliable Aaron Glantz wrote Winter Soldiers Tell Tales of Dehumanization on that Winter Soldier testimony:
Geoff Millard, a former sergeant in the New York Army National Guard, spoke about his time stationed at Camp Speicher near Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit. He said during his deployment he heard high-ranking officials use the word haji to refer to all the Iraqi people.
Millard, like the other veterans at the gathering, linked the needless deaths of innocent civilians to a culture of racism and dehumanization of the enemy that’s part and parcel of the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
Glantz is correct that Millard "linked" needless deaths of innocent civilians to a culture of racism but like Millard, doesn't establish any grounds for that linking! Glantz continues:
The former National Guard sergeant spoke about one incident he witnessed in the summer of 2005 when a machine gunner in his unit opened fire on an Iraqi vehicle that was driving quickly toward a U.S. military checkpoint and killed an entire Iraqi family.

“He killed a mother, a father and two children,” Millard said. “The boy was four, and the daughter was three.”
Again the reason for the shooting was a vehicle driving fast toward a checkpoint at a time when the enemy was precisely using bomb laden cars as a method of attack. What does that have to do with dehumanizing? Glantz also made a mistake of fact in that writing, but I find myself uncharacteristically forgiving him for this one. Glantz wrote that Millard spoke of an incident he [Millard] witnessed, but Millard did not witness the event and did not claim to. Millard's testimony and repeated telling is that he was present at a briefing to staff about the incident that involved photos. I am somewhat understanding of Glantz making that mistake, though, because unless one listened very carefully, the histrionic manner in which Millard told the story could lead someone to believe he did witness it. At Winter Soldier, Millard introduced the story with:
" of the most horrifying experiences of my tour that still stays with me..."
Yes, Millard was indeed saying that one of the most horrifying experiences of his tour in Iraq was being present at a briefing! He did see graphic photos and supposedly heard an officer use the term Haji in a disparaging manner, but did not see the actual violence, deaths, bodies, etc! He didn't talk to the soldier who opened fire and did not hear that soldier give as his reason for doing so as "They were just Hajis!"!

What horrified Millard, and what didn't shock him about soldiers actually raping and killing, was this, according to Glantz:
That evening, Millard said he was in a briefing where the chain of command was informed of the shooting.

“After the officer in charge briefed it to the general in a very calm manner, a commander turned in his chair to the entire division-level staff, and he said—and I quote—‘If these f------g hajis learned to drive, this s--t wouldn’t happen.’”
That is it! That is why Americans kill innocents! Millard went on to say:
"That stayed with me the rest of my tour.”
This is another example of why in an earlier post I termed Millard a narcissist.

IVAW co-founder and atrocity fabulist Jimmy Massey was exposed in 2005 by embedded reporter Ron Harris of the St. Louis Dispatch who followed up on Massey's fabricated claims. In a debate with Harris conducted by Amy Goodman in November 2005, the subject of checkpoint shootings was prominent. Massey had claimed, untruthfully, that his Marine unit had killed thirty innocent people at checkpoints in two days, and in a very Millard-like manner, spoke of dehumanizing. Toward the end of the debate, there was this exchange:

JIMMY MASSEY: First, I would like to say, why would the military admit to atrocities now? They’ve never admitted to atrocities in Vietnam. And then, furthermore, Mr. Fowler, Corporal Fowler: “There were no explosives but it was highly probable there could have been weapons. We were all”—this is an exact quote from Mr. Fowler. “We were all pissed off at shooting women and children. Nobody was doing it on purpose, but they were doing it. They were killing civilians and plenty of them.”

RON HARRIS: Wait, but you said nobody was doing it on purpose?

AMY GOODMAN: He’s quoting. You are quoting Fowler?

JIMMY MASSEY: Yes, I’m quoting from Fowler, yes.

RON HARRIS: The second shooting of civilians that we reported, the way I found out about it, Marines were pissed off. And they were pissed off at each other. They were pissed off that somebody had accidentally shot some civilians, and they were furious.

Why would those Marines be upset, even furious, pissed off, as even Massey acknowledged, contrary to earlier claims, if to those troops the Iraqis were dehumanized Hajis, whose deaths would be of no consequence to one's conscience?

This is why narcissist Massey leaves a slime trail. He never spoke to that soldier, who pulled the trigger on that machine gun. It is that soldier who had a horrifying experience, not Geoff Millard advancing PowerPoint slides in a briefing. Listen to the audio of Millard telling the story at WSI, and note the emotionalism when he tells of what this incident did to - him! What of the young machine gunner? He may live with a terrible gut wrenching regret his entire life. He may spend that life second guessing himself because people, even children, died at his hands. He may have determined that given what he knew and saw he reacted properly and rationally to protect his unit and himself, and still be burdened with a terrible hurt. Yet for Geoff Millard, it is Geoff Millard who bears the pain and memory and Geoff Millard has pronounced that soldier of being guilty of having dehumanized the family he killed, as he again and again tells that story to make that point!

How could Geoff Millard do that? It is simple. Geoff Millard has dehumanized that young soldier. That soldier only exists as a prop, not a human being, in a story Millard tells to enhance a perception of his own wonderful humanity!

Millard and others from IVAW have at least honestly made the point that the term Haji is one of honor and endearment in Arabic. It is not used by our troops for an enemy but for the people of Iraq. There is a story there they are not telling.

During his testimony, there was one point where the crowd applauded Millard loudly. That was when speaking of the use of Haji to dehumanize Iraqis, he said:

"These things start at the top - not at the bottom."
The applause was loud in something like direct proportion to the asininity of the statement itself.

Somewhere and at some time someone in the US miitary began calling Iraqis Hajis, and it got picked up. I am in the middle of raising my fourth and fifth teenagers. Doing such provides a first hand witness to how language changes and words come into use. Language is fluid, and changes virtually never come from "the top"! Does Millard know how the terms pogue or fobbit came into use?

Rumsfeld, Tommy Franks, Paul Bremmer, Bush, Cheney, et al, never had a meeting where they determined that the Iraqis would be called "Hajis"! Whoever began doing so had to have some knowledge of both Arabic and Islam. It is striking that a term that has come into such wide use by our side is in the language of the locals and rather than insulting, a compliment!

In accepted PC terms, the use of such terms is meant to make people "others", different than "us"! But of course, that is simply true! To Marines, the Army is made up of others. To the Iraq Veterans Against the War, the members of Veterans For Freedom are others. To my family, members of other families are others. Yet Marines and Army soldiers are members of the US military, and the British troops are others. Members of IVAW and VFF are veterans, and non-veterans are others. All the families in my neighborhoods are North Carolinians, and folks from South Carolina are others.

Having a name for others is not inherently racism, bigotry or dehumanizing. Using a term for that otherness that is an honorable one in the other's culture is a sign of respect, not dehumanizing.

Haji can most certainly be and no doubt at times is used disparagingly and as a slur. But the term itself can be used in a positive, neutral or negative manner. Use of the term is not a sign of racism or dehumanization.

Here are other terms for people that can be and are used in positive, neutral or even negative ways: Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals, Frenchmen, Italians, Christians, Jews, Yankees, Southerners, soldiers, Marines, men, women, Americans, Europeans, and on and on.

Yet Millard and IVAW and the left as a whole want to paint the picture of the killing hordes of White Anglo Saxon Protestant Americans brutalizing the darker people of the world, while led by commanders with names like Abizaid and Sanchez! The US military is and has been the most thorougly integrated by race, culture, ethnicity and culture at every level in history.

For Millard and IVAW to try to paint the members of our military as full of people who can kill anyone without qualm simply because they have been led to call them something like Haji is despicable.

Millard may want to try to talk to members of his own IVAW and their allies about dehumanization. Maybe to Adam Kokesh, to whom his political enemies are "Dumbocrats and the criminal Repugs", and speaks of them wearing "jackboots". Maybe he should speak to the IVAW supporters at Daily Kos and DU who call our troops killbots, or those like Dissident Voice who call members of Gathering of Eagles fascists and who wrote of "the Stygian depths of depravity and evil that US service personnel have sunk…" in promoting the video by IVAW's former member Jesse MacBeth. How about the DU commenter writing about the IVAW Bus Arson that wasn't who just knew it had to have been done by a Freeper Nazi?

Any of that dehumanizing?

Green Left Weekly quoted Millard at something called the World Social Forum held in Caracas in January 2006, where Millard's PC indoctrination was on full dislay:
“US soldiers are put into a situation where they are forced to brutalise, forced to racialise, forced to sexualise everyone in order to dominate and control a people..The way that has to be done is that you are forced to dehumanise that person. That’s what they are doing in Iraq. You see this brutalisation factor whenever you talk to World War 2 veterans about 'Japs’..."
The attitude of Americans of the WWII generation towards the Japanese had a lot more to do with things like the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Bataan Death March than that they used a shortened version of the word Japanese, just as they also used the shortened Brits for the British and Poles for the Polish, and they were allies. Millard went on to say and proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is getting an un-education but is getting the left PC drivel down pat:
The real Iraqis getting bombed are the poor. It’s the poor in Iraq who make up the resistance, just like anywhere, because the rich are still going to get their’s, whatever.
Millard doesn't seem to know that a considerablely large part of the insurgency involved the Ba'athist Sunnis, who were trying to get back the exalted social and financial status they had over the country's beleagured, oppressed and sometimes slaughtered majority Shia and Kurds!

And if he ever bothered to read any one of a number of letters from AQI's Al-Zarqawi, he would have noted that it was not objection to poverty that motivated his slaughtering of countless civilians. Likewise, Osama Bin Laden is not impoverished.

Over at Active Duty Patriot IVAW's Army Sergeant has a complaint about Jason Mattera of YAF disobeying some of the WSI rules and harassing people while videotaping. I am sympathetic to the concept that if there are rules of conduct promulgated they should be obeyed. I will just point out that in demostration after demonstration, IVAW members have intentionally broken rules, laws, harassed people and otherwise did not much care abour "rules'.

One such event happened in September 2006, when Geoff Millard was arrested at a demonstration at the UN for breaching security. About the events of that day, Next Left Notes wrote: Iraq War Veteran named Geoff Millard simply walked into the 'secure area’ - finding himself between the NYPD, FBI and Secret Service and the UN itself. Millard told NLN that he was: “tackled, kicked in the forehead and hit with rifle butts” multiple times. Arrested for disorderly conduct he was nylon flex-cuffed so tightly that his circulation was cut off. The following day Millard said that he still couldn’t “feel (his) left thumb”. Millard, who served in the 45th Infantry Division, NY State National Guard, fell when he attempted to climb into the police van. Rather than help him up the NYPD charged him with resisting arrest.

“I fell at the paddy wagon and for this they charged me with resisting arrest,” said Millard who fought in Iraq from October 2004 until October 2005.

Paddy wagon? Perhaps Millard missed PC class on the day the history of the term paddy wagon was explained. It is an ethnic slur against the Irish, which stock accounts for 100% of my breeding. The term came into use in the US, Canada and Australia and was meant to convey the idea of the transport vehicles the police would use to round up all the drunken and misbehaving Irish immigrant scum, all called - Paddy!

I guess in Millard-world I have been dehumanized.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Three Stomp Signal - Anyone?

In the Times OnLine piece Patriot Missiles: Iraq Veterans Against the War that ran in early March, IVAW's Jason Washburn got some focused attention from Robin Boyd at Chickenhawk Express and also from Dave Allender and Nat Helms at Defend Our Marines. Perry O'Brien also got some attention for "heart touching", but I have to admit to having overlooked this:

On a February morning at a cafe in Brooklyn, New York, Perry O’Brien is explaining the difference between the “book way” and the “real way”, and the significance of the “three-stomp signal” that is used to differentiate between the two.

“If someone is giving a briefing and they stomp their foot three times after what they are saying, it means ‘disregard what I just said’. For instance, ‘Make every effort to avoid civilian property damage,’ stomp stomp stomp – [means] ignore that. The idea is that when you get back [from combat], anything that you did the book way can be spoken about – but not what was done the real way.”

It isn’t just between the book way and the real way, he says; it’s become between the honourable way and the immoral way...

“The book way was we treat everyone the same…” Perry smiles and taps his foot three times. “You are ordered to do things that are clear violations of our conscience and what we know to be moral. It’s not even what’s prescribed by the Geneva conventions. It’s what every human being knows to be right and wrong. We’re asked to do things that violate that and told it’s about the war, but you can never tell anyone because we need to protect them from that."
O'Brien was a medic in Afghanistan. From all that I've read from him, I have never seen where he has given any indication that he ever went on a combat mission or was engaged in any fighting. I am not sure how many, if any, briefings like the ones he describes he may ever have personally attended.

That alone would not have so effectively triggered my olfactory senses, but that "three stomp signal" certainly has! O'Brien describes it as something routine, ordinary, even well known among military personnel. Yet a Google search of "three stomp signal" returns O'Brien as the only source for such a concept! The only other remotely close return was from a software patent:
...protocol in which a stomp signal is propagated to cancel a prior request...
I cannot even find where Geoff Millard, who graduated from advancing the slides in a PowerPoint presentation to giving briefings to generals and colonels spoke of the three stomp signal!

So I am throwing this one out there: anyone ever heard of "Perry O'Brien's Three Stomp Signal"? At this point, I am naming it after him as he seems to be, at this time, something like the sole owner of the concept.