COMMENTARY:

United Vegetative States of America

by Anwaar Hussain

Has the American nation, too, lapsed into a persistent vegetative state and thus did not notice the gang sneaking into the White House? Should their country now be named as the United Vegetative States of America?
After having lived for 15 years in a persistent vegetative state, Terri Schindler Schiavo crossed over from here to the hereafter on the last day of March.

With her blood scent up in the air, the feral American media went berserk in the last two weeks of Schiavo's life. Using this so-called freest press in the world, the American public was led on a leash by the right-wing activists with a not-so-subtle help from the neofundos ruling the roost in their great country. The pro-life campaigners remained at the point of this bizarre national entertainment.

Americans never fail to astound the world with their penchant for sensationalism. Just when it appears that they’ve scaled new peaks, they manage to notch themselves up yet higher into the dizzying summits of luridness. While the carnival of mayhem is progressing ahead in full tide in Iraq, the Americans love and sympathy for the plight of Terri Schiavo is the very embodiment of duplicity. Hypocrisy in its truest form, it speaks volumes of their O.J. Simpson syndrome.

Every facet of Schiavo’s affliction was dissected with microscopic focus by the voracious lens of the American media. The American public gobbled it all up like starved men on a king's feast.

Consider the following.

Why is it that the common Americans are not out on the streets protesting the horrendous actions of their administration and the sinister complicity of their media?

The dizzying media blitz surpassed even the Asian tsunami three months ago that left approximately 300,000 people dead or missing. According to "TVEyes"--the digital monitoring service--in this period the cable outlets and networks have mentioned “Schiavo” more than 15,000 times. On the other hand, these same outlets mentioned “tsunami” only 9,000 times during the two weeks following the Asian humanitarian crisis. Internet chat rooms, letters to editors, opinion columns, television talk shows and all national debate forums buzzed with arguments on Schiavo's right to live or die.

The American President played a lead role in this theater of the absurd. On her death he said, "I urge all those who honor Terri Schiavo to continue to work to build a culture of life... The essence of civilization is that the strong have a duty to protect the weak. In cases where there are serious doubts and questions, the presumption should be in the favor of life."

Some hypocrisy, some gall, some double bloody standards. As the Americans applaud their president who makes murder acceptable and lies seem true, they neither challenge the serious doubts and questions in Iraq's case nor force their government for a presumption in the favor of Iraqis' lives. While their president urges the Americans to build a culture of life, he sanctions his strong forces to make it their duty to prey on innocent lives in Iraq with nauseating impunity. No such debate is taking place on the mainstream American media on the false dichotomies of their government's conduct.

When it comes to Iraq, the Americans' sympathy wells suddenly dry up. While they shed tears for a woman who remained in a halfway house for the past 15 years, the dead and the maimed of other nations are forgotten as soon as their media leads them to yet another thrilling topic.

Forever reined by their corporate-controlled media, the American nation lapped at the pool of misery of a suffering human being. For two tumultuous weeks, the American public really excelled--in the festive ambiance of human misfortune duly projected by their so-called world’s freest media.

It would not have been so out of place had the Americans shown the same tenderness for the misery of other human beings, especially for the ones upon whom they have inflicted it themselves. The long-forgotten Iraq war got just about 2,900 TV mentions over the same two weeks that Schiavo obsession ran wild.

When they were shedding tears over Schiavo, not very long back an Iraqi girl Fatima was being repeatedly raped by the beasts that guarded Abu Ghraib prison. Here is an excerpt from her heart-rending letter to Iraqi resistance fighters:

"...I say to you: our wombs have been filled with the children of fornication by those sons of apes and pigs who raped us. Or I could tell you that they have defaced our bodies, spit in our faces, and tore up the little copies of the Qur’an that hung around our necks? ....By God, we have not passed one night since we have been in prison without one of the apes and pigs jumping down upon us to rip our bodies apart with his overweening lust. Kill us along with them! Destroy us along with them! Don’t leave us here to let them get pleasure from raping us....Leave their tanks and aircraft outside. Come at us here in the prison of Abu Ghurayb.

"They raped me on one day more than nine times. Can you comprehend? Imagine one of your sisters being raped. Why can’t you all imagine it, as I am your sister. With me are 13 girls, all unmarried. All have been raped before the eyes and ears of everyone. They took our clothes and won’t let us get dressed. As I write this letter one of the girls has committed suicide. She was savagely raped. A soldier hit her on her chest and thigh after raping her. He subjected her to unbelievable torture. She beat her head against the wall of the cell until she died, for she couldn’t take any more.

"Brothers, I tell you again, fear God! Kill us with them so that we might be at peace. Help! Help! Help!"

Where is the free American media and their kind-hearted patrons when their G.I. Joes are pumping up Iraq with depleted uranium, napalm bombs, cluster munitions and poisonous gases even as these lines are being written? Is death less camera-friendly in Iraq or is it less worthy of the Americans' attention? Are Iraqis children of a lesser god? Go talk of Schiavo's right to live or die.
One hundred resistance fighters launched a fierce attack on the prison, led by Fatima's elder brother. People died, Fatima among them. Go talk of Schiavo's right to live or die.

While the Americans and their media kept a macabre death-watch over Schiavo's plight, Dr. Hafidh al-Dulaimi, the head of “the Commission for the Compensation of Fallujah citizens” has reported the destruction that American troops have inflicted on Fallujah. Here is a brief gist:

"7000 totally destroyed, or nearly totally destroyed, homes in all districts of Fallujah....8400 stores, workshops, clinics, warehouses, etc. destroyed....65 mosques and religious sanctuaries demolished....59 kindergartens, primary schools, secondary schools and technical colleges destroyed....13 government buildings leveled....Four libraries, that housed thousands of ancient Islamic manuscripts and books, gutted completely...." And on and on and on
Human beings lived in those buildings; make your own guess of their toll. Go talk of Schiavo's right to live or die.

It seems that having wallowed in the deceptions, lies, crimes and war-mongering of their rulers for centuries, and now immersed neck-deep in a smothering swamp of consumerism, the Americans have lost their sense of impartiality, justice and fairness. It also seems that there are too many Americans with blood lust out there who look at pictures of butchered Iraqi kids and rejoice.

While their president urges the Americans to build a culture of life, he sanctions his strong forces to make it their duty to prey on innocent lives in Iraq with nauseating impunity. No such debate is taking place on the mainstream American media on the false dichotomies of their government's conduct.

The coverage of Schiavo-like events allows the Americans to whet their appetite for tragedy, hone the fine art of hypocrisy and feed their morbid addiction of calamity. It may be a blatant affront to the sense and sensibilities of the enlightened world citizenry, they don't care.

Haven't the lies of their rulers now been fully exposed? Why is it that the common Americans do not see the Iraqi butchery for what it is--a brazen plan for occupation, suppression and theft of vital resources of an already aggrieved and impoverished nation, whatever the human cost. Or is it that they see it and agree with the plan of maintaining white man's license for as long as possible? Why else would they reelect this gang of criminals and thus be responsible for the carnage by default. Or has the American nation, too, lapsed into a persistent vegetative state and thus did not notice the gang sneaking into the White House? Should their country now be named as the United Vegetative States of America?

Why can't they see the horrendous atrocities that the United States military is visiting upon unarmed Iraqis who never posed any danger to their beloved country? Why can't their free media catch on its eagle-eyed lens the raining cluster bombs, the showering napalms, and the tortures in the dungeons? If the BBC can broadcast an interview with a grieving Iraqi woman whose pregnant daughter had been machine-gunned by US troops, why is there nothing on the US media? Why is it that the common Americans are not out on the streets protesting the horrendous actions of their administration and the sinister complicity of their media? Would they show the same stoic indifference if a couple of tons of depleted uranium are shot up the New York alleys? Go talk of Schiavo's right to live or die.

Where was this concern for human misery when the death toll in Iraq shot past the 100,000 mark? Where were the tears of human compassion when Fallujah was razed to the ground and its citizens--men, women and children alike--gunned down by the valiant American troops and left on the streets for the dogs to feed on? Go talk of Schiavo's right to live or die.

Where is the free American media and their kind-hearted patrons when their G.I. Joes are pumping up Iraq with depleted uranium, napalm bombs, cluster munitions and poisonous gases even as these lines are being written? Is death less camera-friendly in Iraq or is it less worthy of the Americans' attention? Are Iraqis children of a lesser god? Go talk of Schiavo's right to live or die.

When it comes to Iraq, the Americans' sympathy wells suddenly dry up. While they shed tears for a woman who remained in a halfway house for the past 15 years, the dead and the maimed of other nations are forgotten as soon as their media leads them to yet another thrilling topic. Or are these crocodile tears that they shed when they are ready to devour?

Who was it that said, "The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity"?

The American writer Lee Harris was spot on the dot in his article “Good American Hypocrisy” when he wrote, "America’s current critics need to recognize that in pursuing its self-interest the United States is hardly unique--what singles us out from among nations is our obdurate hypocrisy. We have to pretend to ourselves that we are doing the right thing--often at the cost of actually doing it.” Go talk of Schiavo's right to live or die.

Long live the United Vegetative States of America.


Copyright 2005 by Anwaar Hussain. The writer, a former officer of the Pakistan Air Force, is now based in the United Arab Emirates. This story is reproduced courtesy of Fountainhead, Mr. Hussain's blog. Mr. Hussain may be reached by email at eagleeye@emirates.net.ae.


Copyright © 2005 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on April 6, 2005.