To the people of Iraq who suffer under the US occupation:
Those of us who opposed this war cannot apologize to you for what our government has done. But we can offer out condolences and our solidarity. As a former member of the US military, I join thousands of other veterans who abhor this administraton and its inhuman, illegal, and immoral occupation of your land and your society.
In case you do not understand how our society works now, I will also point to the complicty of our major so-called news organs in facilitating the invasion and supporting the occupation. The American people are not monolithic, any more than the Iraqi people are. But I can generalize enough to say that we are one of the most indoctrinated peoples in the world. This indoctrination is all the more powerful, because part of our national mythology is that we are free to choose... free to choose Coca-Cola or Pepsi, free to choose Ford or Chevrolet, free to choose MSNBC or CNN. free to choose Republican or Democrat.
We are free to choose between the economic, cultural, and political products offered to us by our dominant class. And since we also enjoy the comforts afforded by cheap oil from your region and cheap prodcuts made in sweatshops that are far, far out of our sight, that comfort translates into a great deal of complacency.
What passes for public discourse here is produced by the very rich and offered up as a commodity; and one of those commodities is a kind of melodrama of good versus evil, and the media participates in this because it is easy to sell, and because it sells the products that are advertised between 20-second "reports" that are supposed to substitute for understanding. Moral ambiguity doesn't sell. Self-criticism doesn't sell. The reality of war as you have experienced it in Iraq definitely doesn't sell... unless it becomes a scandal.
So I have a suggestion for you that can help break through this veil of mystification that the government and the media-of-the-rich have stretched between my people and your people. Amplify a scandal.
There was a video made recently by a Marine in Iraq, called "Hadji Girl." It was a cruel, racist, and woman-hating song that a Marine sang for other Marines at a kind of party there, that found humor in the lyrics that celebrated the killing of Iraqi children; and it was emblematic of the mindset that underwrites the cruel and racist occupation of Iraq. The cheering by the enitre unit during this video shows that the excuses made for this video -- that it is not typical -- is a lie.
I suggest that Iraqis begin a graffitti campaign all over Iraq, painting the term HADJI GIRL everywhere, and posting an internet link, as well as distributing flyers that show the translated lyrics of this reprehensible song. Paint this term so ubiquitously that no journalists camera can escape it. Make signs for every demonstration, for every shop, for every car, so that when journalists aim their cameras at anything, someone can hold up the sign that says HADJI GIRL. Build a movement around the song, its racist title, and its disprespect for Iraq.
The reason I suggest this is that once a campaign like this gains enough momentum, it can no longer be ignored by our media; and this song embodies everything that is wrong with the occupation -- its imperial hubris, its true aim of domination, its racism and Islamophobia, its militarism, its dehumanization of occupied and occupier alike, and its wanton cruelty. It will help hasten the end of the war, and allow Iraqis to reclaim their own futures, as well as repatriate our soldiers before more of them can be infected with this hatred. My own son is in the military and at risk to be dehumanized.
This occupation must end. I encourage translation and wide distributon of this letter among Iraqis.
Yours for sovereignty and peace,