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News :: International : Race
There is Always more to a Story then its Headline
13 May 2004
I was thinking about the Boston Herald headline the day after those “contractors” had been butchered in Iraq. That headline read, “Savages: Iraqi mob kills and burns 4 American civilians.” (Boston Herald, April 1, 2004, news.bostonherald.com) My mind raced. There had to be more to the story then what they were telling us in the headline. I mean, could the very people we were there to liberate suddenly become the savages the papers wanted to see massacred? Was there more to this story? Well, indeed there is always more to any story.
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Currently I am listening to “viðrar vel til loftárása,” which means, “good weather for air strikes” by Sigur Ros. Before that it was Michelle Shocked singing “Ballad of Penny Evans” and “Remodeling the Pentagon.” It’s a pretty good bet that I am lethargic tonight.

I was thinking about the Boston Herald headline the day after those “contractors” had been butchered in Iraq. That headline read, “Savages: Iraqi mob kills and burns 4 American civilians.” (Boston Herald, April 1, 2004, news.bostonherald.com) My mind raced. There had to be more to the story then what they were telling us in the headline. I mean, could the very people we were there to liberate suddenly become the savages the papers wanted to see massacred? Was there more to this story? Well, indeed there is always more to any story.

For instance, according to the article, these “civilians” were “reportedly employees of North Carolina-based Blackwater USA” which, “provides armed security personnel in Iraq for U.S. officials, convoys and other potential targets.” Not only that, but Blackwater happens to employ “many retired special forces fighters.” These were not peace activists, or humanitarian aid workers. These were people contracted out by a security firm, most likely paid a lot of money and told exactly what to expect, to protect “U.S. officials, convoys and other potential targets.” These “civilians” were mercenaries contracted out to be cannon fodder incase the shit got too heavy, which is exactly what happened.

Does this in some way excuse the barbarity of the acts in question? No. However, the way it was reported brought a flood of questions to my mind; questions not only about the story between the lines but also about that word “savage.” Savage is not used lightly. Think of all the contexts that word has appeared. Slaves were savages. Mexicans were savages. Native Americans were savages. Haitians were savages. The Jews of the Holocaust were savages. The Japanese during WWII were savages. Some of these groups haven’t outlived the term and others are newly labeled as such. It is a word that is meant to polarize people in the direction of hatred: absolute hatred.

The Iraqis of Fallujah have been branded savages by the Herald, which to me means that any action brought to bear against the people of Fallujah is automatically justified. It is apparent that Mr. L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. administrator for Iraq, has violent retribution in mind when he says, “Their [the contractors] deaths will not go unpunished.”

According to the Guardian UK, “Thirty American soldiers and 130 Iraqis have been killed since the weekend in Falluja, where heavy combat continued last night.” (Uprising in Iraq could derail Bush, April 7, 2004, www.guardian.co.uk) What’s next? Nuke Fallujah? Kill hundreds or even thousands more on both sides? To end WWII the American people were told that the U.S. had to drop two nuclear weapons to make the Japanese surrender thus saving innumerable American lives. You have to remember that back then the Japanese were savages and it didn’t matter what they thought, read, heard, ate, felt, or did. Any act was justified as long as they were savages and not human beings. And now we are seeing the same reasoning being played out in Iraq. Well, it just so happens that the Herald reported on April 28 that “U.S. air gunships battered Sunni rebel strongholds with heavy cannon rounds in the besieged city of Fallujah,” with no mention of how many civilians were murdered, but went on to speculate that “the Sunni insurgents could try to use civilians as human shields in order to flee.” The only casualty figures offered by the Herald were the “60 insurgents,” who were “reported killed in fierce firefights near Najaf,” and the one U.S. soldier who died “in Baghdad, raising the U.S. death toll for April to 115.” No mention of how much damaged was done to Fallujah by the U.S. military’s “air strikes by AC-130 Specter gunships, armed with 105 mm Howitzers and 40 mm cannons,” nor how many dead Iraqis littered the city after the smoke cleared. (Air strikes pound Fallujah insurgents, April 28, 2004, Boston Herald, http://news.bostonherald.com/international/view.bg?articleid=6295)

These air strikes occurred just days after a supposed cease-fire was put into effect. The Associated Press (AP) released an article on April 25, stating that the “U.S. military extended a cease-fire for Fallujah on Sunday for at least two more days” backing down on threats of “an all-out Marine assault and announcing that American and Iraqi forces would begin joint patrols in the city.” This tentative cease-fire was put into effect after weeks of hostilities where “1,200 Iraqis and 111 U.S. troops” were killed when U.S. coalition forces surrounded Fallujah and laid siege to the city forcing “more than a third of the city's population of 200,000” to flee. (U.S. Extends Fallujah Cease-Fire 2 Days, April 25, 2004 from Yahoo News, http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=540&e=1&u=/ap/20040426/a) Once more, instead of trying to solve problems, we see the U.S making problems through violence. This goes back to the fact that the Iraqis of Fallujah are simply savages to be “civilized” one way or another and that no amount of resistance will deter the U.S. from its mission: “To enforce order in Iraq.” (President Bush’s Radio Address, May 1st, 2004, Whitehouse.gov)

If we move ahead to the May 1 we see that the AP released an article titled “Ex-Saddam general takes reins in Fallujah.” Apparently, we are now placing the very military personnel we deposed, back into power! U.S. and Iraqi officials have installed the “Fallujah Protective Army,” under the command of “Maj. Gen. Jassim Mohammed Saleh,” who “once served in Saddam's Republican Guard.” I find it interesting because there is so little said about the “Fallujah Protective Army.” What is it they are protecting? Who is it they are protecting? What kind of human rights record does this “ex-Saddam general” have? On top of this development, in a stroke of genius, the Marines were ordered to pull out! No wait, they were simply “repositioning” as insisted by “Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, coalition deputy operations chief,” in order to reduce the negative “profile” of the U.S. forces in a time of “growing opposition.” (Ex-Saddam general takes reins in Fallujah, May 1, 2004, released by the AP and printed in the Boston Herald, at http://news.bostonherald.com/international/view.bg?articleid=17273)

The record of atrocities against Iraqis, especially those in Fallujah, continues. What the mass media appear to be overlooking, is our savagery against the very people we were supposedly liberating in the name of freedom and democracy. When I read the Herald headline I had to do a double take. I found myself fuming as rage welled deep within me. These polarizing and degrading tactics being used by the Boston Herald, in particular, only fuel my disgust and contempt of U.S. for-profit media and the ideologues in the current administration that put Americans and Iraqis in danger by continuing an illegal occupation. I am sickened by the failure of U.S. media to accurately portray these events in their appropriate contexts in Iraq, and more specifically Fallujah.

The acts perpetrated against those four America mercenaries could have been avoided by allowing the Iraqi people to determine for themselves how to govern their own affairs. We do not need to be an occupying force in Iraq. If you allow popular movements to develop and aid them when they ask for assistance real democracy might be had (or at the very least despots overthrown). What we are doing there is arrogant and wrong. How dare the U.S. government try to transplant democracy from the top down (with planes and bombs)! Democracy is a bottom up affair. It comes from the grassroots, the people, those with opinions and voices. Those with a desire to see things improve and those that wish to have a voice in how things are done. Call it political agency if you want. Call it democracy.

If the Herald wants to brand the people of Fallujah savages, we have a responsibility not only to understand the savage policies that are enacted in our names against those we have “liberated,” but also to call out the corporate media’s attempt to incite blind hatred and racism through biased and misleading journalism (read: propaganda).

From one who is hoping that air strikes get cancelled due to bad weather, I remain Angry and Agitated.

This work is in the public domain.
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Re: There is Always more to a Story then its Headline
13 May 2004
In their own words ....

http://www.blackwaterusa.com/
Re: There is always more to a story...
14 May 2004
----------------------------------------------------

When you kill women and children
You call it a battle:
The Battle of Wounded Knee
And give out lots of medals, proud butchers of the helpless.

When we kill your soldiers
Who've attacked us
You call it a massacre:
The Custer Massacre.

English is a funny language.

------------------------------------------------

You can read the full piece at: http://arkansas.indymedia.org/feature/display/1607/index.php
See also:
http://arkansas.indymedia.org
Re: There is Always more to a Story then its Headline
16 May 2004
I understand and even agree w/ your point, nonetheless I think your giving entirely too much thought to a headline featured in a tabloid newspaper like The Herald. A few weeks ago the paper's frontpage read "Perv Pix Gets OK by Gov"
Re: There is Always more to a Story then its Headline
16 May 2004
We were told that Palestinians were dancing in the streets on 911. We even saw video of Ppalestinians dancing in the streets. The fact that the shadows in the videos were of a noon time sun and couldn't possibly have been taken on 911 didn't make it into the reports. Here was a clear case of propaganda desined to insight hatred. Have the TV set god's minions ever appologised for spreding hate speech with the propagada? No, they haven't even retracted the claims, and millions of American still bare false witness against thier Palestinian neighbors.

Media is a tool for special intrests. Always has been.
Re: There is Always more to a Story then its Headline
17 May 2004
Well, what do you know? It turns out that the AK 47 in the video wasn't an Ak 47, but a Galil. Does anyone know who makes and uses the galil??? I'll give you a hint. It isn't the Arabs.

Now, wouldn't you expect the CIA agents investigating the murder to know something like that? You sure wouldn't expect the media to air the revalation, but the CIA are allegedly investigating to find out who murdered Berg. How do you suppose they are going to play down that information?
Re: There is Always more to a Story then its Headline
17 May 2004
To whoever wrote this: fantastic article.
Question to the troll: who uses the galil?
Re: There is Always more to a Story then its Headline
17 May 2004
The Galil assault rifle is manufactured and used by Israel.

That said, putting this much thought into the Herald is about as productive as pondering the content of the Weekly World News.
Re: There is Always more to a Story then its Headline
17 May 2004
No, the Boston Herald isn't a very impressive newspaper--but lots of folks in Boston read it. There are lots of other sensationalist papers out there like it, chief among them the New York Post. I don't watch much TV, but I suspect Fox News is like a TV version of the Herald. The Herald represents a sector of the media that influences the views of a large chunk of the American population. Understanding and critiquing its contents does, therefore, serve a useful role.
Re: There is Always more to a Story then its Headline
17 May 2004
Good point, seahorse. It *does* represent the media spin that a large percentage of the local population rely on. It's very important to compare and contrast mainstream media views, so as to get a rounded understanding of the topic at hand.

Cheers!
hey
02 Jun 2004
you have a typo in your f'n headline, jabronie!