Forgive Me My Foul Murder

“But, O, what form of prayer
Can serve my turn? 'Forgive me my foul murder'?
That cannot be; since I am still possess'd
Of those effects for which I did the murder…”

Life is a pretty sweet fruit. It is the start of spring and America thinks it’s a mayflower. But like a moonflower, America only blooms in the dark of night. Good news is an irregular package here. Elementary schools are shuttered to improve education. The Drone King swaps Nobel Peace Prize anecdotes with the Middle East’s number one nuclear rogue. Spree killers shoot themselves instead of their classmates. And Iraq is almost, mercifully, a distant memory.

Last week saw the tenth anniversary of Operation: Iraqi Freedom’s commencement, and the principles of human rights and love which guided that war still shine brightly, the lodestar of a lost republic. We’ve learned so much since then. We’ve remembered and forgotten so many names of people we deeply admire and honor every day. We’ve seen that in the name of a noble mission, young warriors can survive burns to over ninety percent of their broken bodies. And we’ve observed that far from being a destroyer of dreams, war can glow even in the smile of a newborn baby.

But enough about these nobodies. The good news is, the real victims of the Iraq War are almost freed of their troubling psychic burdens. I speak, of course, of the proud, the brave, the few – those members of the U.S. media who were courageous enough to support the Iraq War, and loudly praise it at every available opportunity in 2002 and 2003. Imagine the hell they went through in the intervening years!

The tenth anniversary has prompted much reflection among such journalists about their support for a war that seems, in hindsight, to have produced little more than a tsunami of blood. Such people are wrong – besides killing a staggering number of people, the Iraq War also saw massive ethnic cleansing which has entrenched an authoritarian Shi’ite ruling class and a violent Sunni insurgency – but again, such concerns ignore the real victims. And at long last, free from the Iraqi voices that have so dominated our national conversation on the War, these victims are breaking their silence.

* * *

The journalists who took to their keyboards last week to hedge, half-explain, and non-apologize for their Iraq War cheerleading are a hardy lot, who were wrong for the right reasons – which is much more important than being right. They are like the band playing on the deck of a Titanic that somehow sank upwards. See, a cursory glance at the rogue’s gallery would suggest all of these penitents simply not bother with the Iraq mea culpas – why should they be sorry? Support for this war turned out to be a great career move. For the Fourth Estate, failing up is the law of the land – making these golden hours, as one such Iraq War-humping Teletubby proclaimed, the “ glory days of journalism ”:

In 2002, New Republic/Washington Times/Human Banana Slug Monthly neocon Eli Lake told NPR that Iraqi WMD informant Khidir Hamza, originator of the infamous “aluminum tubes” hoax, was “a defector who definitely got it right.” Today, Hamza has been long-exposed as a liar, his contract with the new Iraqi government terminated – unlike Lake, who continues to find reputable employment (sorta) at Tina Brown’s vanity site.

Ezra “Jimmy Neutron” Klein is a “policy reporter who was wrong about the most significant bit of policy in his adult lifetime,” dissembling, insincere apologies aside, and was rewarded for his stupidity in supporting a war which killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Now that he’s said he was wrong, Ezra can continue suckling at the teat of vulgar billionaires for his $15,001-$25,000 speaker fees.

“Humanitarian” academic Michael Ignatieff lauded the Iraq War, which orphaned over five million children, as "the last hope for democracy and stability alike.” After supporting a war which even Pentagon hawk Richard Perle conceded was illegal, Ignatieff continued to teach at Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy before leading Canada’s Liberal Party to its worst electoral defeat ever.

Back in 2003, Dave Weigel was a McCarthyite dork at Northwestern University, battling hippies for control of the quad. As Weigel explained to Fox News (!) at the time, a counter-demonstration he organized against a campus anti-war rally had “the effect of not letting the media treat it like a burgeoning anti-war movement…if there is no pro-America presence whatsoever, it's very easy for American reporters to just toe the anti-American line." Weigel, who claimed on his private blog that Iraq War opponents had “been crusading against America for eons,” is now a Slate reporter and openly credits the Koch brothers with bankrolling his career.

America’s papers of record appear to have a hard time dealing with their role in fomenting the war fever of 2002-2003. New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan noted the curious lack of self-examination by the Old Gray Lady of its role in invading Iraq. Besides publishing Judith Miller’s gobsmacking WMD lies, the Times continues to employ loathsome hawks like Bill Keller, who glorified Paul Wolfowitz as a “Sunshine Warrior,” and broken-brained editorialist Tom Friedman, who crowed that the defeated Iraqis would have to “suck on this.” The Washington Post, which buried its skeptical reporting in the war’s run-up on page eighteen, last week killed a story by veteran journalist Greg Mitchell on the paper’s mistakes about Iraq in favor of a fawning defense of them. Finally, while the Los Angeles Times ran some admirably critical pieces about faulty Iraq reporting, the paper failed to record the thoughts of former columnist Robert Scheer, fired in 2005 for his persistent criticism of the war.

* * *

I could go on forever, listing the hacks who only grew more successful by pushing for a war so brutal and stupid, thinking about it can induce a nosebleed. ABC’s Brian Ross. Charlie Rose, now a morning host on CBS. “Liberal” hawk Peter Beinart, who said pro-war thinkers were “on the side of angels” and now runs his own boutique. The late Tim Russert, seen here patronizing some guy who was actually right about the war. Every tentacle of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

Oh, well. They’re all very sorry now, and in the same way that juvenile sociopaths don’t even know what right or wrong is, wouldn’t know how to atone if they actually wanted to. This rancid country, upon which our media is only the curdled meringue, cannot come to terms with what we did to millions of people somewhere else on the globe, can’t even grasp part of it – like babies, we use our mouths to feel things out, imperfectly, messily. We obviously don’t want to hear from any of the human chattel we concussed with grenades or beggared or incinerated or humiliated in secret prisons or killed for fun. This is a conversation for adults to have.

Life contracts and death is expected.” The dirt exhales.


General Gandhi

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