From Friday, March 14 to Sunday, March 16, an organization called Iraq Veterans Against the War held a Winter Soldier gathering in Washington D.C. While this received virtually zero attention on mainstream news outlets, a number of other news outlets, such as Pacifica Radio, carried extensive coverage. Indeed, Jeff Cohen at the Huffington Post, calls the alternate coverage a “victory for independent media.”
As an example of the sort of coverage you won’t be hearing on MSNBC or any of the other mainstream news channels, Joshua Holland of indy-media outlet Alternet has an excellent piece this morning about the racism inherent in the “war on terror.” Holland writes:
At its core, the “War on Terror” is inherently racist. Its central tenet is that all Muslims are interchangeable. ….
In Iraq and Afghanistan, racism is operationalized — it’s endemic to the culture of occupation, and, worse still, it comes from the top of the chain of command and works its way down the line. It’s used to devalue and dehumanize the populations of occupied lands, and to motivate soldiers to overcome their natural inhibitions against cruelty. “
To support his assertion, Holland draws on the testimony of Iraq war veterans who oppose the war, including one who served before and after 9/11. Mike Prysner, an Iraq veteran, testifying at the Winter Soldier gathering here (click on the video on the top right), says:
“When I first joined the army, we were told that ‘racism no longer existed in the military.’ A legacy of discrimination and inequality was suddenly washed away by something called ‘Equal Opportunity Program.’ We were sent through mandatory classes, every unit had an EO representative to ensure that no evidence of racism could resurface. The Army seemed firmly dedicated to smashing any hint of racism. And then, September 11th happened, and I began to hear new words, like “towelhead,” “camel jockey” and, the most disturbing “sand nigger.” These words did not initially come from my fellow soldiers but from my superiors…all the way up the chain of command these terms, these viciously racist terms, were suddenly acceptable.”
This incredibly courageous veteran against the war confirms what Holland points out in his analysis: that the “war on terror” is racism operationalized. Like the previously declared (and on-going) “war on drugs,” this most recent war is fueled by racism for the profits of a few, rich powerful white men.