U.S. public should question Iraqi civilian deaths

by Karl Noyes

It didn’t take long for U.S. occupational troops to switch from liberating the Iraqi people to military suppression of them.

As you’ve probably not heard, at least 25 innocent Iraqi civilians were killed in the past week during anti-American protests. Soldiers killed at least 15 civilians and injured 65 in Falluja and Ramadi during a celebration of Saddam Hussein’s birthday and a protest fueled by complaints soldiers were using binoculars to spy on civilian women and showing children pornography. The same day nine civilians were killed and 29 were injured in the town of Mosul. Two more civilians were killed in an anti-American protest two days later. The military’s reaction to the killings was a mixture of shifting the blame and justification.

“The evildoers are deliberately placing at risk the good civilians,” said Col. Green, who gladly condoned the massacres. “These are deliberate actions by the enemy to use the population as cover.”

In both instances the military claims it was fired upon. But why did that require the spraying of bullets into crowds? The military’s approach seems to be this: anti-American equals evildoer. Some (if not all) Iraqis are evildoers. Therefore, if we fire into a crowd of protesting Iraqis, we are bound to kill evildoers. This approach is disturbing beyond measure.

Headlines have been sterile, merely saying troops fired upon Iraqis and leaving the details that soldiers killed innocent Iraqis buried within the stories. Reaction is not as rampant and leads are not as inflammatory. Did the Iraqi protesters first fire on the soldiers? Did they even fire at all? These details behind the headlines are left unanswered.

Journalists are not asking questions, and military reports are being taken at their word. It is at this junction that it becomes dangerous. If such questions are not asked, the media becomes nothing more than a military megaphone drowning out any voices of dissent and reason. The media should be critically viewing the U.S. occupation of Iraq and scrutinizing government actions which are contrary to their advertised intent. Otherwise, Americans become black holes of self assurance and refuse to tolerate legitimate concerns.

I’m not saying the military lies all the time or tells the truth part of the time. I am asking, however, for more facts culled by journalists through relentless pursuit of the truth and not by merely trusting press releases.

Not surprisingly, the majority of corporate media, which is mainstream media, has remained apathetic and silent. There is something wrong with the abuses by crusading forces. The white knights have a dark side. The Dresden fire bombings and the savagery of the Union troops toward civilian southerners in the Civil War serve as examples. By failing to stress the realities of distasteful U.S. actions, the media only helps to perpetuate the myth that the U.S. military is of the highest holy order.

Granted, the United States must maintain guard to prevent the surrender of Iraqi people to opportunist warlords. However, recklessly and ruthlessly firing into crowds of protesting Iraqis is not the act of guardians but the act of fascist rule. Such disregard for the citizen would not be tolerated in the United States and should not be tolerated in Iraq. Acts of retaliation by U.S. troops only escalate and justify anti-American sentiment.

Officials such as Defense Secretary Donald “Our Savior” Rumsfeld argue such acts are merely side effects of war. Such a blatant lack of compassion only slightly reveals the grave lengths to which some are willing to push their lifelong agendas. Accidental deaths of civilians in bombing zones are side effects of war. The killing of unarmed civilians in already-secured military zones is a massacre reminiscent of Boston and My Lai.

I sincerely hope the Iraqi protest massacres were a result of disgrace under fire and not due to a policy of intimidation, suppression and eradication. As the bloody death count of Iraqi civilians rises, one would hope the pressures of scrutiny will rise as well.

Karl Noyes is a member of The Minnesota Daily editorial board and a University first-year student.

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