[Hpn] THE BANALITY OF EVIL: When the Unthinkable Becomes Normal~What Human Rights?

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sat, 13 Nov 2004 16:22:29 -0500

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From: Judith Moriarty noahshouse@adelphia.net

From: AC acfree@earthlink.net
Sent: Saturday, November 13, 2004
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Subject: THE BANALITY OF EVIL: When the Unthinkable Becomes Normal

It seems that now, only time with its quintessential brand of "poetic
justice," will bring the long overdue and deserved punishment against those
who have normalized evil, those cowards, those spineless bullies with the
world's most advanced and lethal weapons, who, without any pique of
conscious, so lacking in humanity are they, would attack a city of tens of
thousands of women, children and defenders of that city, who posed no danger
to their nation, to begin with, nor now do they.    What kind of evil
military is this, that would bomb all the hospitals first, so that the world
would not learn of the civilian casualty figures, (National Public Radio
also reported this the first day of infamy against Fallujah).

What kind of evil, inhumane, misanthropic and twisted racist army is
this--it's scary just to contemplate.   By the end of their dastardly
adventure, yes, their unthinkable sin against humanity, they will have
bested Lenin, Stalin's, Hitlers, Pol Pot's, Pinochet's, wholesale massacres
and anti-human outrages.

Americans, this is the military that one day, you can bet on it, will turn
on you, for they are trained, unthinking masses of biological clones of
humanity.  Those Americans with any sense of humanity and civility, must
oppose this evil, or they are complicit with it and just as evil.



Iraq: The Unthinkable Becomes Normal

by John Pilger

Edward S. Herman's landmark essay, "The Banality of Evil," has never seemed
more apposite. "Doing terrible things in an organised and systematic way
rests on 'normalisation'," wrote Herman. "There is usually a division of
labour in doing and rationalising the unthinkable, with the direct
brutalising and killing done by one set of individuals . . . others working
on improving technology (a better crematory gas, a longer burning and more
adhesive napalm, bomb fragments that penetrate flesh in hard-to-trace
patterns). It is the function of the experts, and the mainstream media, to
normalise the unthinkable for the general public."

On Radio 4's Today (6 November), a BBC reporter in Baghdad referred to the
coming attack on the city of Fallujah as "dangerous" and "very dangerous"
for the Americans. When asked about civilians, he said, reassuringly, that
the US marines were "going about with a Tannoy" telling people to get out.
He omitted to say that tens of thousands of people would be left in the
city. He mentioned in passing the "most intense bombing" of the city with no
suggestion of what that meant for people beneath the bombs.

As for the defenders, those Iraqis who resist in a city that heroically
defied Saddam Hussein; they were merely "insurgents holed up in the city,"
as if they were an alien body, a lesser form of life to be "flushed out"
(the Guardian): a suitable quarry for "rat-catchers," which is the term
another BBC reporter told us the Black Watch use. According to a senior
British officer, the Americans view Iraqis as Untermenschen, a term that
Hitler used in Mein Kampf to describe Jews, Romanies and Slavs as
sub-humans. This is how the Nazi army laid siege to Russian cities,
slaughtering combatants and non-combatants alike.

Normalising colonial crimes like the attack on Fallujah requires such
racism, linking our imagination to "the other." The thrust of the reporting
is that the "insurgents" are led by sinister foreigners of the kind that
behead people: for example, by Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian said to be
al-Qaeda's "top operative" in Iraq. This is what the Americans say; it is
also Blair's latest lie to parliament. Count the times it is parroted at a
camera, at us. No irony is noted that the foreigners in Iraq are
overwhelmingly American and, by all indications, loathed. These indications
come from apparently credible polling organisations, one of which estimates
that of 2,700 attacks every month by the resistance, six can be credited to
the infamous al-Zarqawi.

In a letter sent on 14 October to Kofi Annan, the Fallujah Shura Council,
which administers the city, said: "In Fallujah, [the Americans] have created
a new vague target: al-Zarqawi. Almost a year has elapsed since they created
this new pretext and whenever they destroy houses, mosques, restaurants, and
kill children and women, they said: 'We have launched a successful operation
against al-Zarqawi.' The people of Fallujah assure you that this person, if
he exists, is not in Fallujah . . . and we have no links to any groups
supporting such inhuman behaviour. We appeal to you to urge the UN [to
prevent] the new massacre which the Americans and the puppet government are
planning to start soon in Fallujah, as well as many parts of the country."

Not a word of this was reported in the mainstream media in Britain and

"What does it take to shock them out of their baffling silence?" asked the
playwright Ronan Bennett in April after the US marines, in an act of
collective vengeance for the killing of four American mercenaries, killed
more than 600 people in Fallujah, a figure that was never denied. Then, as
now, they used the ferocious firepower of AC-130 gunships and F-16
fighter-bombers and 500lb bombs against slums. They incinerate children;
their snipers boast of killing anyone, as snipers did in Sarajevo.

Bennett was referring to the legion of silent Labour backbenchers, with
honourable exceptions, and lobotomised junior ministers (remember Chris
Mullin?). He might have added those journalists who strain every sinew to
protect "our" side, who normalise the unthinkable by not even gesturing at
the demonstrable immorality and criminality. Of course, to be shocked by
what "we" do is dangerous, because this can lead to a wider understanding of
why "we" are there in the first place and of the grief "we" bring not only
to Iraq, but to so many parts of the world: that the terrorism of al-Qaeda
is puny by comparison with ours.

There is nothing illicit about this cover-up; it happens in daylight. The
most striking recent example followed the announcement, on 29 October, by
the prestigious scientific journal, the Lancet, of a study estimating that
100,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the Anglo-American invasion.
Eighty-four per cent of the deaths were caused by the actions of the
Americans and the British, and 95 per cent of these were killed by air
attacks and artillery fire, most of whom were women and children.

The editors of the excellent MediaLens observed the rush - no, stampede - to
smother this shocking news with "scepticism" and silence. They reported
that, by 2 November, the Lancet report had been ignored by the Observer, the
Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph, the Financial Times, the Star, the Sun and
many others. The BBC framed the report in terms of the government's "doubts"
and Channel 4 News delivered a hatchet job, based on a Downing Street
briefing. With one exception, none of the scientists who compiled this
rigorously peer-reviewed report was asked to substantiate their work until
ten days later when the pro-war Observer published an interview with the
editor of the Lancet, slanted so that it appeared he was "answering his
critics." David Edwards, a MediaLens editor, asked the researchers to
respond to the media criticism; their meticulous demolition can be viewed on
the alert for 2 November. None of this was published in the mainstream.
Thus, the unthinkable that "we" had engaged in such a slaughter was
suppressed - normalised. It is reminiscent of the suppression of the death
of more than a million Iraqis, including half a million infants under five,
as a result of the Anglo-American-driven embargo.

In contrast, there is no media questioning of the methodology of the Iraqi
Special Tribune, which has announced that mass graves contain 300,000
victims of Saddam Hussein. The Special Tribune, a product of the quisling
regime in Baghdad, is run by the Americans; respected scientists want
nothing to do with it. There is no questioning of what the BBC calls "Iraq's
first democratic elections." There is no reporting of how the Americans have
assumed control over the electoral process with two decrees passed in June
that allow an "electoral commission" in effect to eliminate parties
Washington does not like. Time magazine reports that the CIA is buying its
preferred candidates, which is how the agency has fixed elections over the
world. When or if the elections take place, we will be doused in clichés
about the nobility of voting, as America's puppets are "democratically"

The model for this was the "coverage" of the American presidential election,
a blizzard of platitudes normalising the unthinkable: that what happened on
2 November was not democracy in action. With one exception, no one in the
flock of pundits flown from London described the circus of Bush and Kerry as
the contrivance of fewer than 1 per cent of the population, the ultra-rich
and powerful who control and manage a permanent war economy. That the losers
were not only the Democrats, but the vast majority of Americans, regardless
of whom they voted for, was unmentionable.

No one reported that John Kerry, by contrasting the "war on terror" with
Bush's disastrous attack on Iraq, merely exploited public distrust of the
invasion to build support for American dominance throughout the world. "I'm
not talking about leaving [Iraq]," said Kerry. "I'm talking about winning!"
In this way, both he and Bush shifted the agenda even further to the right,
so that millions of anti-war Democrats might be persuaded that the US has
"the responsibility to finish the job" lest there be "chaos." The issue in
the presidential campaign was neither Bush nor Kerry, but a war economy
aimed at conquest abroad and economic division at home. The silence on this
was comprehensive, both in America and here.

Bush won by invoking, more skillfully than Kerry, the fear of an ill-defined
threat. How was he able to normalise this paranoia? Let's look at the recent
past. Following the end of the cold war, the American elite - Republican and
Democrat - were having great difficulty convincing the public that the
billions of dollars spent on the war economy should not be diverted to a
"peace dividend." A majority of Americans refused to believe that there was
still a "threat" as potent as the red menace. This did not prevent Bill
Clinton sending to Congress the biggest "defence" bill in history in support
of a Pentagon strategy called "full-spectrum dominance." On 11 September
2001, the threat was given a name: Islam.

Flying into Philadelphia recently, I spotted the Kean congressional report
on 11 September from the 9/11 Commission on sale at the bookstalls. "How
many do you sell?" I asked. "One or two," was the reply. "It'll disappear
soon." Yet, this modest, blue-covered book is a revelation. Like the Butler
report in the UK, which detailed all the incriminating evidence of Blair's
massaging of intelligence before the invasion of Iraq, then pulled its
punches and concluded nobody was responsible, so the Kean report makes
excruciatingly clear what really happened, then fails to draw the
conclusions that stare it in the face. It is a supreme act of normalising
the unthinkable. This is not surprising, as the conclusions are volcanic.

The most important evidence to the 9/11 Commission came from General Ralph
Eberhart, commander of the North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad).
"Air force jet fighters could have intercepted hijacked airliners roaring
towards the World Trade Center and Pentagon," he said, "if only air traffic
controllers had asked for help 13 minutes sooner . . . We would have been
able to shoot down all three . . . all four of them."

Why did this not happen?

The Kean report makes clear that "the defence of US aerospace on 9/11 was
not conducted in accord with pre-existing training and protocols . . . If a
hijack was confirmed, procedures called for the hijack coordinator on duty
to contact the Pentagon's National Military Command Center (NMCC) . . . The
NMCC would then seek approval from the office of the Secretary of Defence to
provide military assistance . . . "

Uniquely, this did not happen. The commission was told by the deputy
administrator of the Federal Aviation Authority that there was no reason the
procedure was not operating that morning. "For my 30 years of experience . .
." said Monte Belger, "the NMCC was on the net and hearing everything
real-time . . . I can tell you I've lived through dozens of hijackings . . .
and they were always listening in with everybody else."

But on this occasion, they were not. The Kean report says the NMCC was never
informed. Why? Again, uniquely, all lines of communication failed, the
commission was told, to America's top military brass. Donald Rumsfeld,
secretary of defence, could not be found; and when he finally spoke to Bush
an hour and a half later, it was, says the Kean report, "a brief call in
which the subject of shoot-down authority was not discussed." As a result,
Norad's commanders were "left in the dark about what their mission was."

The report reveals that the only part of a previously fail-safe command
system that worked was in the White House where Vice-President Cheney was in
effective control that day, and in close touch with the NMCC. Why did he do
nothing about the first two hijacked planes? Why was the NMCC, the vital
link, silent for the first time in its existence? Kean ostentatiously
refuses to address this. Of course, it could be due to the most
extraordinary combination of coincidences. Or it could not.

In July 2001, a top secret briefing paper prepared for Bush read: "We [the
CIA and FBI] believe that OBL [Osama Bin Laden] will launch a significant
terrorist attack against US and/or Israeli interests in the coming weeks.
The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties
against US facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made.
Attack will occur with little or no warning."

On the afternoon of 11 September, Donald Rumsfeld, having failed to act
against those who had just attacked the United States, told his aides to set
in motion an attack on Iraq - when the evidence was non-existent. Eighteen
months later, the invasion of Iraq, unprovoked and based on lies now
documented, took place. This epic crime is the greatest political scandal of
our time, the latest chapter in the long 20th-century history of the west's
conquests of other lands and their resources. If we allow it to be
normalised, if we refuse to question and probe the hidden agendas and
unaccountable secret power structures at the heart of "democratic"
governments and if we allow the people of Fallujah to be crushed in our
name, we surrender both democracy and humanity.
November 12, 2004

John Pilger was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. He has been a war
correspondent, filmmaker and playwright. Based in London, he has written
from many countries and has twice won British journalism's highest award,
that of "Journalist of the Year," for his work in Vietnam and Cambodia. His
new book, Tell Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism and Its Triumphs, is
published by Jonathan Cape next month. This article was first published in
the New Statesman.

© John Pilger 2004
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