A Blues for Mr. Dilawar

No country that commits the sort of truly evil war crimes America has committed recently can possibly rest easy with itself, and no people like the American people can even slightly escape the implications and the weight of our nation's most evil crimes. That is why we are jumpy lately, why there is an edge to our interpersonal relationships that wasn't there ten years ago, and why there is a tone of subdued hysteria in our mass media. That is why "reality" shows (Freud would have a field day with the implications of that reversal of truth--more like "DENY reality shows') and stupid game shows and 'Court TV' inanities are so popular now, along with the soul theft of our children through violent and racist Xbox crap on their computers and TV's. I say tis as an African American whose people have suffered the Middle Passage, lynching, and Jim Crow at the hands of America. Those crimes, however horrific, were at least understandable in the context of their cause: greed, and the insane profit motive of capitalism. The most recent crimes, which in fact African Americans who lack consciousness are temselves implicated in, are in a way far more evil, since nearly everyone inside America is partly or wholly guilty for them.

We are in mourning.

The mourning we are suffering as a nation is not lessened because we are in denial about it. The urge to cry you sometimes feel, that irrational surge of panic and fear after dark, that unreasonable anger at the driver in the lane beside you that you sometimes feel welling up from your stomach into your mouth almost causing you to strike out at those whose fault your feelings are not, it all comes from that place where our crimes (America's crimes, Condi Rice's crimes, and Colin Powell's crimes) sit and fester and await the light of day to expose out evil to ourselves and to the world. None of us will escape whipping, as Hamlet might say.

The horrific death of Mr. Dilawar (if you don't know yet who Moazzam Begg is (whose kidnapping and torture inspired the film, "Rendition") and particularly who Mr. Dilawar is (who inspired, and the details of whose murder are featured in "Taxi to the Dark Side") check the NYT article pasted below, or go to Google and find out for yourself. Warning: it ain't pretty), captured to its last ugly point by the brilliant documentary, "Taxi to the Dark Side", hangs heavily over all of us. All the more so because once again, we as Black people must face the bitter truth that Black 'leaders' never were going to deliver us from evil, and never will. Obama is continuing the Bush policies abroad (he will rename torture, but will he truly eliminate it? And even if he eliminates it, will he end the wars? Good questions. Why aren't we demanding he answer them rather than acting as if we have been delivered to the promised land by the election of a Black dictator president?)

As was the case with Nazi Germany, a regime nearly as bloody and evil as the current Mac-American torture regime is, in which the German people lost their souls because they did not resist fascism before it grew so strong that no one could resist, only die as martyrs, and then let their souls drift far from any hope of redemption by later DENYING what they and their government had done, Americans too, have already lost our souls by allowing the government we elected, to kill Mr. Dilawar. We further are now drifting away from all hope of redemption by denying what we did, and denying him.
Every American, all of us, no matter what color, what race, what religion, or what creed, bear the guilt of Mr. Dilawar's death, for, by international law, and the laws of God and Man, a nation of people are always responsible for whatever their government does--all the more so if their government is democratic. Only the children are ever deemed innocent in the situation we now live within daily. Redemption can now as always, only be achieved by waking up, looking at the %3Cobject%20width="425"%20height="344" truth, not just OUR truth as African Americans, but the WHOLE truth, and the need for the entire planet to be liberated, not just us. That means Condi and Colin and all like them, every Black person who supports or enables fascist atrocity should be tried by a jury just like all the other criminals. Capitalism is not, nor should it be OUR promised land--cars, and ties, and BBQ gas grills, and swimming pools, and flat screen TV's, and all the trappings of our so-called 'overcoming'; things, merely objects, paid for by the blood of victims all over the planet. NO, I am not saying don't buy things--that would be too easy a path to redemption. I am saying don't buy IDEAS; don't consume lies, myths, and criminals with dark faces like yours, and most of all, pay attention to those video games your children have internally migrated into.
We do have an obligation, a historical obligation, to lead the way toward global liberation because we, more than any other race, have suffered the worst crimes of modernity. Our oppression is not an excuse to say we are powerless and therefore guiltless, to say we are in it but nor of it. No, quite the contrary: our oppression burdens us with the obligation to teach the world to love, to grow peaceful. to seek justice. Who will teach the world this if not us? African Americans occupy a profound and unprecedented position of proximity to power. No other group on this planet has the potential we do to change this planet, even if only by our position which allows us to feed ground glass to the master. We are, after all, in his kitchen.

Who else can speak out if we don't?

But that moral high ground we occupy can only be held if we struggle, and if we commit ourselves to knowing and also telling, the truth about all the victims. Even the Arab and Muslim ones.

A-Salaamu Alaikum

In U.S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmates' Deaths

Published in NYT: May 20, 2005

Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him.

The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.

Dilawar was an Afghan farmer and taxi driver who died while in custody of American troops.

3828509848?profile=originalMr. Dilawar

Mr. Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua R. Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Mr. Dilawar's face.

"Come on, drink!" the interpreter said Specialist Claus had shouted, as the prisoner gagged on the spray. "Drink!"

At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.
A sketch by Thomas V. Curtis, a Reserve M.P. sergeant, showing how Dilawar was chained to the ceiling of his cell.

"Leave him up," one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.

Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.

The story of Mr. Dilawar's brutal death at the Bagram Collection Point - and that of another detainee, Habibullah, who died there six days earlier in December 2002 - emerge from a nearly 2,000-page confidential file of the Army's criminal investigation into the case, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times.

Like a narrative counterpart to the digital images from Abu Ghraib, the Bagram file depicts young, poorly trained soldiers in repeated incidents of abuse. The harsh treatment, which has resulted in criminal charges against seven soldiers, went well beyond the two deaths.

In some instances, testimony shows, it was directed or carried out by interrogators to extract information. In others, it was punishment meted out by military police guards. Sometimes, the torment seems to have been driven by little more than boredom or cruelty, or both.

In sworn statements to Army investigators, soldiers describe one female interrogator with a taste for humiliation stepping on the neck of one prostrate detainee and kicking another in the genitals. They tell of a shackled prisoner being forced to roll back and forth on the floor of a cell, kissing the boots of his two interrogators as he went. Yet another prisoner is made to pick plastic bottle caps out of a drum mixed with excrement and water as part of a strategy to soften him up for questioning.

The Times obtained a copy of the file from a person involved in the investigation who was critical of the methods used at Bagram and the military's response to the deaths.

Although incidents of prisoner abuse at Bagram in 2002, including some details of the two men's deaths, have been previously reported, American officials have characterized them as isolated problems that were thoroughly investigated. And many of the officers and soldiers interviewed in the Dilawar investigation said the large majority of detainees at Bagram were compliant and reasonably well treated.

"What we have learned through the course of all these investigations is that there were people who clearly violated anyone's standard for humane treatment," said the Pentagon's chief spokesman, Larry Di Rita. "We're finding some cases that were not close calls."
Mr. Dilawar's Daughter
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  • thank you both, Petitfleur and Ulyses, for taking the time to read this particular post, and to respond to it. I hope it has a wider life on the internet, as some of my blog posts do, because they show up as links on Google.
  • Chicago-Midwest
    Thank you

    Today as I mourn and celebrate, members of my family and friends who willingly committed their lives to defend a dream, that always ends as a nightmare.

    I ask the question
    Why are our best energies always committed to the worst that we are capable of?
  • South
    As Blacks in America, we don't seem to think that any of this has anything to do with us. We are so divorced from our black selves that when something like this happens, we just go blank or go into denial.

    The murder (yes, murder, murder by a racist system, murder by an occupier, murder by a open-ended mandate that was put into place whose enforcement was fully expected to result in death for the unfortunates it was perpetrated against) of Mr. Dilawar smacks of premeditation in that his torturers had decided beforehand on the hideous methods they planned to use against him.

    And we're just supposed to pretend that these people are not guilty of war crimes? So we'll just look the other way from the intense cruelty of these people, let them back into our society around our children while ignoring the psychosexual implications of what they've done, treat them as heroes and reward them with pensions and preferential housing and education and health benefits while they walk among us with hearts as evil as these?

    Feel free to wave at the troops; I think I'll just throw a shoe.
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