Celebrating America

Happy with a potential defeat of Fascism, America celebrates a return to normal. And we celebrate with them, like a dystopian novel.

I stopped reading Noam Chomsky in Grade 10. I found his book Fateful Triangle in researching a paper for world issues. Thinking back I remember two things: my mom had a friend, a Middle Eastern history professor from York University named Ian Maynard. I called him for research and remember him saying “Palestine never existed.. it was parts of Jordan, Syria…”.

I remember presenting my research in history class, comparing the treatment of Palestine to open air concentration camps. The presentation didn’t sit well with my history teacher.

Core memories

I associate this book with another core memory: picking it up from my locker on the 3rd floor at Cawthra Park S.S, and my Chemistry teacher Ms. Fitz (seriously) was walking by.

She stopped before turning the corner and I remember her asking me with concern if I’m okay. I told her “yeah”. She paused for a second, said okay, and went her way. I figured out a decade later why she asked me... earlier that morning, Shock and Awe started in Baghdad.

You can read more about shock and awe on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shock_and_awe

I remember the morning I watched Shock & Awe on satellite. It didn’t register. CNN made it look like a movie. Look at the compelling photo above. I was pretty used to numbing life out, and Ms. Fitz was catching me way too late in the afternoon that day for an intervention.

That same year I remember presenting on the Bush / Clinton Iraq sanctions to my World Issues class, with slides from UN sanctions reports. Nobody believed it. They questioned the source of the material. Mr. Dirk, the 20 something year old teacher threw his doubt into the conversation too.

In a debate on the war, Luke and the other students were pretty set on WMDs as justification to invade Iraq. The class (all white kids), under Dirk, leaned into the justification. This is post 9/11.

They were wrong, and thankfully, Canada’s Liberal Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, disagreed with them too.

I remember talking to Dirk after Baghdad fell, when they took down Saddam’s statue in Baghdad’s centre (we watched it live on TV). I was telling him how shitty of a war this was and of the occupation that will follow. His response? “When will you people be happy already?”.

Watching hundreds of thousands of deaths

In the Iran / Iraq war, 250-500,000 Iraqis died, and nearly 1 million Iranians were killed defending their country from Iraqi nationalism and American Neo-imperialism.

In the 2003 invasion of Iraq, over 210,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed. You can see the numbers for that war on Iraq body count, the saddest DB I’ve ever known. https://www.iraqbodycount.org/database/. The violence and chaos continues daily, logging each martyrdom in a history: https://www.iraqbodycount.org/database/recent/

For the past 5 years, I’ve watched the death more up-close than Shock & Awe, like a Facebook content moderator. It’s a lot of reality to deal with— enough that Facebook will pay $52 million in settlement with moderators who developed PTSD on the job.

I compensated by littering the streams of death with positive relationships on Instagram, of young kids in Iraq living life, graduating from school, and then surrealy protesting in grips of danger. It’s like doom-scrolling, but more post-doom scrolling, visiting old-home through my Google Pixel. I stopped using IG in 2019, and I should probably stop using twitter too.

Decades later

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden make history, and the same folks that were okay with the Iraq war are celebrating the historic win and the ground it breaks. It’s good for America. First women of color VP.

Joe Biden was “one of 77 senators who gave president George W. Bush the authority to use force in Iraq”. Source. See the picture below, with Joe, far right.

You can read a detailed overview of Joe Biden’s Iraq War policy in this Intercept article: https://theintercept.com/2019/09/06/joe-biden-defends-record-iraq-including-plan-divide-along-sectarian-lines/

And here’s Kamala’s record on foreign policy: https://inthesetimes.com/article/kamala-harris-foreign-policy-war-aipac-iran-north-korea-russia. This aside from her tough on crime policy.

This week Twitter has been ablaze with the historic election win, happy with the perceived defeat of Fascism, and celebrating a return to normal America.

And we celebrate it with them, like a dystopian novel.