In the Shadows of Abu Ghraib Prison

by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Revolutionary Worker #1241, May 23, 2004, posted at

The color photos coming out of the dreaded Abu Ghraib prison on Baghdad's outskirts are racing around the world, silent yet eloquent testament to what Americans really think about the people they allegedly came here to "liberate."

The photos, especially in the age of the internet, are racing through the Arab and Muslim world, and showing a side of the American character that seldom gets to be seen, especially abroad.

The photos of naked Arab men, some posed with laughing, jeering U.S. women, is the height of humiliation, and tells everyone who can see, that Americans hold the Iraqis, and by extension, other Arabs, in utter contempt.

"This is not America," a politician huffs.

"I am appalled!," yet another exclaims.

Yet, what is truly appalling, and perhaps more chilling than the naked human pyramids shown, is the sheer glee shown in the faces of the Americans.

The photos flashed in British tabloids, of soldiers urinating--pissing!--on naked Iraqis, tells the same baleful tale.

These are the actions of contempt, hatred, disrespect -- and conquest.

Are the Americans and the British liberators or occupiers?

One need look no further than the faces in the photos of Abu Ghraib for the answer.

When speaking recently with Emory Douglas, the celebrated former Minister of Culture of the Black Panther Party, and chief graphic artist of its famed newspaper, The Black Panther,Emory brought to mind an image that is almost lost in history.

He reminded me of a police raid on the West Philadelphia offices of the Black Panther Party, on August 31, 1970, when the police, armed with automatic weapons, stripped men in the streets.

I also thought of the infamous Charles Stuart case, from Boston, when a white man claimed a Black man killed his wife. The cops descended on Roxbury, Black Boston like a plague. They stripped men in the streets of Beantown.

Many of the Americans working in the prisons of Iraq, especially in the reserves, are cops or prison guards in their civilian lives. Indeed, one of the men identified as a suspect in the brutal mistreatment of people in Abu Ghraib, indeed a corporal in the Army, works here, at SCI-Greene!

The horrific treatment of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib has its dark precedents in the prisons and police stations across America.

Journalist Seymour Hersh, of The New Yorker magazine, has alleged that there have been cases of sodomy against Iraqis there at Abu Ghraib, and even killing. Does the name Abner Louima ring a bell?

If you hate someone; if you disrespect them; if you fear them; how can you "liberate" them?

As we have said from the very beginning, the Iraq Adventure is not, and never has been, about "liberating" an oppressed people. Indeed, a recent CNN/ USA Today poll suggests Iraqis have come to that conclusion, with 71% stating Americans are "occupiers."

Americans may call it "liberation," but they are bringing torture, humiliation, and domination.

Nor are these events the work of people who are "untrained," "poorly trained," or the always useful "bad apples."

As we have suggested above, many of those who are there in Iraq, and hundreds of the people working in Abu Ghraib prison, were reserves, and came from jobs as prison guards and cops in civilian life. They are perhaps better trained than the average M.P.

Don't buy it.

It is somehow fitting that these depraved acts have happened in one of the most dreadful gulags of the Hussein regime; it shows the continuity of torture and terror.

Now, let us prepare for the inevitable whitewash.

Those of us who know history are certain -- it is sure to come.

Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal