Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Silent War Against Women in Iraq

By Quill

The New York based global women's rights organization MADRE has a brief but disturbing factsheet about the growing number of atrocities being committed against women since the beginning of the Iraq War five years ago. According to MADRE:
  • Since the US invasion of 2003, Iraqi women have endured a public campaign of harassment, beatings, abduction, rape, and assassinations.
  • The main perpetrators are militia fighters who see violence against women as a way to enforce their vision of Iraq as an Islamist state.
  • Anyone perceived to challenge that vision is in danger from the militias. Women professionals, artists, intellectuals, lesbians, and human rights activists have been specifically targeted.
While I'm positive things weren't just peachy for women under Saddam - infamous for his brutal institutional tactics such as rape and beheading of female family members to punish and intimidate dissenters - it is complete and utter bullshit that the pro-Iraq war government propaganda machine published an article decrying the abuse and silencing of women under Saddam when, according to MADRE:

Perhaps even more grotesque is that the Bush Administration and its taxpayer funded war industry need do little to nothing to keep this atrocity under wraps - their complicit pals in the media do it for them. The growing level of violence against women in Iraq continues to fly low under the radar of the mainstream media here in the states.

Glenn Greenwald has an informative post that demonstrates just how rare it is to hear any sort of dissenting opinion from the false trope of the U.S. as welcomed liberators in Iraq perpetuated by the media, and what happens when someone slips up and lets a survivor of the occupation speak their mind in a national media venue. As Greenwald puts it:

The American media has a script to which they loyally adhere. The U.S. can make mistakes and government leaders can be criticized for incompetence, but we can never do anything that is actually destructive or evil or which justifiably provokes hatred towards us by people in other countries -- not even bombing them and occupying them for years and imprisoning tens of thousands of them with no charges and replicating the behavior of their hated dictator. Any views that suggest such a thing are simply not heard.
In the same post, Greenwald provides scripts of interviews with less-than thrilled Iraqi citizens conducted by two of America's most distinguished and regurgitative government parrots: Charlie Rose and Peter Jennings. While it's funny to think about how somebody could have fucked up so badly as to place angry anti-occupation Iraqis on the phone with Peter Jennings on national television, the viewpoints heard are quite sobering.

The Iraqi people, promised freedom and self-determination for them and their families, are instead continually denied a voice in Western outlets, making them silenced and vulnerable to further deprivation of their human rights. Iraqi women in particular are left reeling in the aftermath of the invasion, their bodies subject to the punishment of those wishing to control them and their families to form a more perfect "Islamic state". There has been no liberation for them, and there will never be as long as the Bushies and their complicit comrades in the media keep censoring what Americans watch and read everyday.

Believe It: Rising Sea Levels Lead to Refugee Crisis in Sundarban Delta

By Farol

The United States is the only major power in which there is serious conflict among government officials about whether or not global warming is happening. More than anything else, what makes it possible for so-called "global warming deniers" to maintain a prominent place in our national discourse is the power of the oil companies. But not too far behind that is the simple fact that most people in the United States do not feel the most drastic effects of global warming in their everyday lives. (Except, of course, for the victims of Hurricane Katrina; but Katrina was ultimately more an issue of government apathy and incompetence than global warming. Besides, nobody in power really seems to care about those people anymore).

Meanwhile, while our cowardly politicians stall, actual people's lives are already being destroyed by global warming. In the latest issue of The Observer, Douglas McDougall has a superb article detailing the ongoing destruction of the Sundarban delta by rising sea levels. You certainly won't hear about this in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, or Wall Street Journal (The Observer is a British publication). The people who live on these islands, after all, are poor and powerless—who cares what happens to them? McDougall does:
Across the delta, homes have been swept away, fields ravaged by worsening monsoons, livelihoods destroyed. It confirms what experts are already warning: that the effects of global warming will be most severe on those who did the least to contribute to it but can least afford measures to adapt or save themselves. For these islanders, building clay walls is their only option.

Lying one-third in India and two-thirds in Bangladesh, the Sundarbans are where two of Asia's biggest rivers, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, broaden and violently roll into the Bay of Bengal. The source of the problem is 1,500 miles away, at the source of the Ganges, where melting Himalayan glaciers are raising river and sea levels.

Lohachara island, once visible from Ghoramara, a mile to the east, is already gone beneath the waves, succumbing to the ocean two years ago, leaving more than 7,000 people homeless. Ghoramara itself has lost a third of its land mass in the past five years. To the north, Sagar island already houses 20,000 refugees from the tides.

According to the geologist Sugata Hazra, who is the director of the School of Oceanography Studies at Kolkata's Jadavpur University, the people of the Sundarbans are the first global-warming refugees.

He said: 'These people are victims of global warming. The accelerated melt of the Himalayan glacier is producing larger volumes of water in the rivers, water that violently carves its way through the flat delta where they live. The Sundarbans and the four million people who inhabit the Indian side are dreadfully vulnerable. The area has lost 72 square miles of land in the past few decades. This entire region is holding back a disaster and could ultimately serve as a warning of what is to come.'

The article—which goes on to detail how the refugee crisis is fueling conflict between India and Bangladesh—deserves to be read in full. While it's still true that the most catastrophic possible consequences of global warming (like a new ice age) will occur over thousands of years, McDougall's piece makes it indisputably clear that people—people who did nothing to create the situation in which they now find themselves—are already being destroyed by it. Will this fact register here in the U.S., the worst contributor to the problem? Don't hold your breath.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Welcome to DisPro!

Quill and Farol welcome you to DisPro, a blog by and for disgruntled progressives. We will discuss all forms of current events, with a special emphasis on politics. Art and culture will find a venue here as well. Our only agenda is to keep you informed and interested with as little bullshit as possible. See you around our corner of the blogosphere!