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Archive for February, 2009|Monthly archive page

Gaza On My Mind

In Israel/Palestine, Journalism, Our Wars, Photography on February 17, 2009 at 11:16 pm

Wikipedia has an entry about Professor Ammiel Alcalay.

How cool is that?

It says that he is ‘…an American, scholar, critic, translator, and prose stylist. Born and raised in Boston, he is a first-generation American, son of Sephardic Jews from São Tomé and Príncipe. His work often examines how poetry and politics affect the way we see ourselves and the way Americans think about the Middle East.’

He is also the author of one of the most amazing books I have read in the last decade – Memories of Our Future.

The Midwest Book Review said that it was “An outstanding anthology of essays surveying the complexities of Mediterranean cultures; the diverse, changing space of the Balkans, Middle East, and North Africa-areas of diasporas, dislocations, and genocidal exterminations provoked by nationalism and religious fanaticism. Of special interest are his observations and analysis of the Israeli/Palestinian confrontation, Arab/Jewish poetics, and Jewish identity in America.”

Professor Alcalay (he is a Professor at the City University of New York), recently sent me a poem he wrote while thinking about Gaza and the horrors being unleashed there.  I was in Gaza when I first read it, and I asked that he allow me to share it with the rest of you.  So I am reprinting here.

The poem recently in the appeared in the CUNY Graduate Center Advocate magazine’s February 2009 issue (http://gcadvocate.org)

GAZA

(after Mahmoud Darwish & Yehezkel Kedmi)

Skin can be torn to shreds and melted anywhere, houses dissolve and earth ripped apart below your very feet. But can the sea itself sustain a wound?

The name of these talks cannot be Madrid or Oslo but only Gaza because politics are politics and Washington and Tel Aviv propose velocity can drown out consciousness, extinguish the memory of life and the meaning of home.

Home is where the sea goes but there is no sea in Gaza.

How long can the fishermen mend their nets?

How many nets are even left when walls descend from a sky with no
horizon and the beach is only one more part of the prison yard?

How many trees are left in the minds of the wise and caring elders,
how many intricate hems left in the battered fingers of loving mothers,
searching for water day after day, or another cup of flour or rice to keep
their meager tables grand and sate the groaning chasm in the bellies of their beloved? How many more unborn can suffocate waiting to get across an imaginary line the earth still refuses to recognize? Why do madmen keep sending boys to do the job they thought they’d done for generations, extinguishing the very breath of their souls as they keep the great illusion
alive, the great illusion that this is war and not just slaughter, plain and simple?

There is no sea in Gaza and the only waves left signal a final light, the flash
of burning flesh in white phosphorus. Once I saw some men in Gaza waiting patiently by the side of the road, waiting and hoping. Waiting to work, hoping
to feed their children. Some still wait and others don’t. But the olive trees
and orange groves and fishing nets grow upside down in an endless sea
of blood about the sky above our heads and on some truly clear nights
you can hear them flow within the veins behind your eyes.


Ammiel Alcalay
January, 2009

My most recent work from Gaza is now also online. I am very pleased and honored to present it alongside Professor Alcalay’s work.  That the poem was released to me just as my images were ready to be shown was a beautiful coincidence.

This work was funded by a generous grant from the Pulitzer Center On Crisis Reporting in Washington D.C.

You can see the main gallery of images here: Gaza Undone

And a series of portraits I made of some victims of the recent conflict here: Portraits of Loss


The Tears of The Goddess

In The Daily Discussion on February 13, 2009 at 2:50 pm

goddess-benaras_20001

Dinesh Khanna is a photographer and a friend.  Based in India he has been working on a project with First City Magazine examining the contradictions and ironies of life in his native country of India.

I loved this image of his because of how quietly it provokes so many thoughts and speaks to so many truths.

A goddess, worshiped, cared for and loved perhaps just a few hours earlier, now lies in a garbage heap, stripped of all her divine powers, and left in her essence; waste.

A god who served her purpose.

Some, righteous and arrogant, will see this as an image of a Hindu god.

Much like the Lahori booksellers I met some years ago who were proudly selling copies of Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not A Christian, not realizing that Russell’s was an argument not against Christianity, but against all religions!

But this image is in fact an image of all religious philosophies – used as they are to serve the base instincts of man and discarded when in conflict with these instincts.

The goddess has been humbled.

Will man ever be?

A World Very Serious And Very Small

In The Daily Discussion on February 11, 2009 at 7:48 pm

They were brilliant analytical minds.

But they were also incredibly illiterate, indifferent, frequently stupid and for the most part comfortable in their ignorance.

At one of the top American management consulting firms, I kept running to such Jekyll&Hyde-ian characters.

But the firm was not unusual – this seems to the the normal modern human mental condition and there appears to be no contradiction between the two states.

Jekyll and Hyde are indeed one!

As an adolescent, the American writer David Foster Wallace was a regionally ranked junior tennis player.  He could have been a major athlete.  However, luckily he choose instead to write.  In his book A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again David Foster Wallace describes his time with some of the lesser known players on the professional tennis tournament circuit.

He describes the grinding schedule, endless practice sessions and the tremendous talent needed to just be an ‘also ran’ at the professional level.  The lives of those who compete here are completely owned by the schedules of the competition, the level of training and practice required, the constant focus on diet and health, the travel, and the singular mental and physical focus on nothing but the game and the body’s ability to perform it. As he writes:

If you’ve played tennis at least a little, you probably think you have some idea of how hard a game it is to play really well.  I submit to you that you really have no idea at all.

To compete and succeed, even at a mediocre level, you have to surrender yourself to the culture of the sport, and disconnect yourself from the world around you.  In tennis, as in the rest of the world today, success is assumed for the specialist – good at just one thing, that one thing that s/he has been working and preparing for since childhood.

But this has a price, and it is described best by Wallace himself as he spends time with the tennis professionals and notices that despite their obvious intelligence and skills, they remain largely vacuous and insipid:

But we prefer not to countenance the kinds of sacrifices the professional-grade athlete has made to get so good at one particular thing.  Oh, we pay lip service to these sacrifices…But the actual facts of the sacrifices repels us when we see them; basketball geniuses who cannot read, sprinters who dope themselves, defensive tackles who shoot up bovine hormones until they collapse or explode.

We prefer not to consider the shockingly vapid and primitive comments uttered by athletes in postcontest interviews, or to imagine what impoverishments in one’s mental life would allow people actually to think in the simplistic way great athletes seem to think.

The realities of top-level athletics today require…An almost ascetic focus.  A subsumption of almost all other features of human life to their one chosen talent and pursuit.  A consent to live in a world that, like a child’s world, is very serious and very small.

Martha Nussbaum in her book The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, And India’s Future, describes a visit to the ‘dazzling’ Swaminarayan temple in Bartlett, Illinois – an enclave of the Gujarati community in the United States. She and her assistant are taken for a guided tour of the temple by a young man.  As she describes it, he lectures them about the sect’s beliefs, telling them that the voice of the sect’s leader is the direct voice of God.

At one stage in the tour he points to a beautifully carved limestone and marble ceiling and asks them why they think that the ceiling if glowing? Nussbaum expects some sort of spiritual answer, but instead the man turns to her with a smile and says ‘Fiber optic cables! We are the first to bring this technology to a temple!’.

For Nussbaum this young man, member of a Hindu community that has supported the hate-filled and violent ideologies of Hindu fundamentalist groups like the HSS and the VHP, represents a very modern product of our modern education system – educated people with tremendous technological sophistication and an equally tremendous ideological [and i will add; intellectual] docility.

They lack a capacity for critical thinking, knowledge of the world, a compassionate imagination and the imagination of otherness as Nussbaum argues in her works.  They are mechanical products, nearly machines, that are ‘programmed’ to excel at their tasks, but lack the thought processes and facilities to know how to think about the world around them, deal with its myriad social and political complexities and to retain a curiosity to explore it.

Dr. Ali Al-Tamimi, a Salafi Muslim scholar and a brilliant computational biologist captures well the chasm between the two ends of the brain that seem to increasingly be drifting apart in modern man.

Dr. Ali Al-Timimi was a brilliant man – a computational biologist, a Salafi Muslim scholar and most recently, someone convicted on terrorism charges.

Milton Viorst in his article on Dr. Timimi’s life, ‘The Education of Ali Al-Timimi’, quotes Dr. Timimi’s doctoral thesis advisor, Curtis Jamison at George Mason University in Washinton D.C. saying that Ali’s innovations in computational biology were at the threshold of a significant breakthrough in cancer research.  While at the University Ali had published and co-published at least a half a dozen scientific papers.

In his introduction to his doctoral thesis, Dr. Timimi declares, while discussing Christian dogma and European scientific innovation,  that:

This combination of an unwavering belief in a Divine ultimate cause…led to a type of rigidity of thought … It was only … the drifting away and then final divorce of Western intellectual thought from the Church that led to a sharp break from philosophical and theological notions of life. Emancipated from philosophy and theology, and coupled with the foundational discoveries of embryology … cell theory … and genetics … biology set on a new direction with the appearance of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.

Here was a man of superior scientific and intellectual intellect, a man at the top of his field, and someone raised with a clear understanding and awareness of the need to maintain a healthy and necessary divide between faith and science – two endeavors with vastly different objectives and motivations.

In the Muslim community however Dr. Timimi was best known as a religious scholar.  A Salafi scholar – purist and fundamentalist (I use this term to mean as those who wish to return to the base roots of a belief). And in his religious beliefs he remained profoundly fundamentalists. And saw no contradiction between his belief in science and the instincts of doubt that fuel it, and the certainty of faith.  As Viosrt describes it, Ali is known to have told his congregation that;

We have the true source of knowledge, the Koran and the Sunna, something which is inerrant. And therefore, because of that true source of knowledge, our ability to think and our ability to interpret is more correct than theirs.

There is sufficient evidence to argue that the US Government case against Dr. Ali Al-Timimi is weak at best.  But my interest is less in Dr. Ali Al-Timimi’s unfortunate run in with the US Government and it’s over zealous legal and secret service goons in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

(Aside: The travesty of justice that led to his life imprisonment, and the ruin that this has meant for his family, is yet another shameful legacy of the hideous Bush administration that has now thankfully passed us. I will write about this and other such cases in a separate blog post.)

I am more fascinated by Dr. Ali Al-Timimi’s ability to contain such brilliant rational and scientific skills and yet hold on so dogmatically to his unverifiable fundamentalist beliefs.

Here is a man whose entire professional and intellectual life was fueled by doubt and questioning and how it can liberate us towards greater truths and knowledge about the world around us.  And yet, Dr. Al-Timimi remained a fundamentalist – someone who unquestioningly took as ‘truth’ all and any Islamic stories, histories, verses, phrases, rumors, rules, laws, and gossips that came down to him.  For him, the belief that all this is an ‘actual voice of God’ was never to be examined or at the very least considered with an element of humility and doubt.

And I speak here not of a doubt that discards faith, but instead one that elevates it from mere rules and regulations, from chores and rituals, to the beautiful, spiritual and human.

He was creative and innovative at work, rigid and dogmatic in his faith.

It is a way of seeing the world in compartments, of using the human mind as a tool that uses certain skills towards certain tasks and other skills towards other, never allowing the two to influence each other and possibly inform each other.

A recent example of the power of dogma and the seduction of unthinking can affect the minds of otherwise intelligent people are the ‘entrepreneurs’ using modern technology to help the Jewish orthodox overcome the Kosher restrictions imposed on them by the Shabbat.  Usually interpreted as a day ‘away from work’, it can also be seen as a beautiful requirement to step away from all worldly demands and to offer oneself towards the divine, towards contemplation and what Pieper called Leisure – see Josef Pieper’s Leisure: The Basis of Culture.

A piece in the New York Times, typically unthinking and stenographic, called ‘Entrepreneurs Find Ways to Make Technology Work With Jewish Sabbath’, raises some troubling questions.

We learn from the article that:

(A firm has)… created the metal detectors used to screen worshippers at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, in a manner that uses electricity in a way not prohibited on the Sabbath. It also developed pens that use ink that disappears after a few days, based on a rabbinic interpretation that only forbids permanent writing, and Sabbath phones, which are dialed in an indirect manner with special buttons and a microprocessor.

Unprepared to engage their minds to question the fundamental modern day relevance of their ancient restrictions and dogma, a group of fine minds are producing toys that help them ‘fool’ the system, reducing the religious ideas to ‘tasks’ and ‘chores’, and cleverly avoiding perhaps the ‘intentions’ behind the restrictions in the first place.

So a lamp that has a top you can twist to block its light, so as to avoid ‘pressing’ the on/off switch since that is non-Kosher, has become a big seller amongst religious Jews.  That ‘indirect’ dialing is Kosher.  Actually this phone is really incredible; it dials all the numbers all the time all day in a sequence – to dial a number you pick up a pen and ‘interrupt’ it from dialing the number you actually want to dial.  A sort-of negative logic here – I  stop it from dialing the numbers that I actually want to dial – and the phone connects you.

Get it?

Pressing a button is a violation of the Kosher law.  Inserting a pen to block the phone number from dialing is not.

Am I missing something?

I spent a few years working at a major management consultancy in New York City.  The firm recruited the best graduates from the best business graduate programs in the United States of America and Europe (how and why I made it in is the topic of a separate blog post).

These men and women went on to advise Fortune 500 CEOs on the fine points of strategy, competitiveness, market creation, product innovation etc.

They were young, confident of their right to lead, smart and ambitious. The best corporations would lure some of them into their management teams with massive salary and bonus packages.

Some were pulling in over a million a year before they were 40 and enjoyed business class travel, 5-star hotels, the best restaurants, limousine services, and anything else necessary for them to remain focused on their responsibilities and deliver to their client’s highest expectations.

I spent 3 years at the firm, struggling to keep up with the go-go-go attitude of my colleagues, many of whom surrendered all pretense at a personal and social life simply to impress the firm’s partners of their ‘commitment’ to the mission of the organization.  The culture within the office could only be described as paranoid competitiveness –  each step, gesture, posture and word could have implications for your success within the firm.  It’s ‘up or out’ policy ensured that every one was constantly on edge, and easily manipulated into working long hours and weekends at the expense of everything else that life may offer.

It required every ounce of one’s focus to stay within it and survive, let alone progress.  There was no time for anything else.

And that included any broader engagement with society, culture and politics, or the celebration of common intelligence, worldly knowledge, and a healthy dose of critical thinking.

In the offices, these creatures shone.  Outside the office they were practically Neanderthals!

What mattered was the job and the office and the life the revolved around what took place there – there outcomes mattered, performance mattered, ideas mattered for after all we could measure them in terms of revenue, salary increments, bonuses, and privileges.

What mattered was not thought, but performance; not intelligence, but achievement; not critical thinking, but delivery.

What mattered was making the small world, the only world.

To The Last Man: Fighting The Wrong War in Afghanistan

In Journalism, Our Wars, Photography on February 10, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Perhaps the most illuminating moments in Eroll Morris’s documentary The Fog Of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara is when Mr. McNamara begins to offer his explanation for why the war in Vietnam went so terribly wrong.

Aside for the detailed discussions about the escalation of the conflict due to domestic political issues, he makes the following statement which I believe best captures why nations, any nation, can find itself mired in a conflict and unable to resolve it.

Let me quote Robert S. McNamara himself

“Let me go back one moment.  In the Cuban Missile Crisis at the end I think we did put ourselves in the skin of the Soviets. In the case of Vietnam we did not know them well enough to empathize.  There was total misunderstanding as a result.

They believed that we had simply replaced the French as a colonial power and we were seeking to subject South and North Vietnam to our colonial interest, which was absolutely absurd. And we…we saw Vietnam as an element of the cold war and not what they saw as…a civil war.”

Robert S. McNamara then discusses how he later met with his ‘former enemy’ – on a trip to Vietnam in 1995 he meets with the former foreign minister of Vietnam, Tran Van Lam, and quickly getting into a heated argument which went a something like this (as told by Mr. McNamara in the film):

TVL: ‘You were totally wrong! We were fighting for our independence, you were fighting to enslave us!

RSM: Do you mean to say that it was not a tragedy for you when you lost 3, 400,000 of Vietnamese…killed…what did you accomplish?

You did not get anything more than we were willing to give you at the beginning of the war!

TVL: Mr. McNamara, you must have never read a history book! If you had you would have known that we were not pawns of the Chinese or the Russians….did you not know that?

Don’t you know that we have been fighting the Chinese for over 1000 years?

We were fighting for our independence!

And we would fight to the last man and we were determined to do so! And no amount of bombing or US pressure would have ever stopped us!

President Barack Obama is about to escalate a war in Afghanistan that I fear will prove once again to be the wrong war.

He and his administration have, without blinking an eye, adopted the language and rhetoric of the discredited Bush administration about the reasons and goals of the conflict in Southern Afghanistan.  President Barack Obama, much like his predecessor, claims to be fighting ‘the war against terror’ and supposedly ‘Al-Qaeda’ forces in Afghanistan, when in fact what he faces is a large scale Pushtun nationalist insurgency against the US-backed minority kleptocracy that current sits in Kabul.

Since 2001 the Bush administration and its allies in Kabul have attempted to convince us that the ongoing conflict in the country is against Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces, most of which are finding safe havens in Pakistan.  This has been the public face of America’s policies in the country, though it is evident to many who travel and work there, that it hides as much as it reveals.

Under US tutelage Afghanistan has become one of the world’s largest narco-state, with crime and criminality the principal means of business, law and life.

With few if any reporters working independetly in the Southern Afghanistan region, it has been impossible to get voices outside of the official American/NATO ones.  However, one individual who has spent considerable time in the country, as both a reporter and a social worker, is Sarah Chayes.  She was a correspondent for National Public Radio from 1997 to 2002 and later founded an agribusiness cooperative in the country.  Her stark and honest assessment of the situation in the country comes from direct experience in the region where the insurgency is most extreme.

Here is what she had to say in a piece she wrote for The Boston Review called ‘Days of Lies and Roses: Selling Out Afghanistan’

Our first error was to subordinate every other concern to a cowboys-and-Indians-style hunt for al Qaeda and the Taliban leadership-a hunt that has thus far proved singularly fruitless. We collected a posse of former anti-Soviet commanders who had been repudiated by the Afghan population for their rapacious and bloody-minded behavior after the Soviets withdrew in 1989. Because we believed them essential to our hunt, we installed these thugs in positions of local power, bolstered them with the priceless weight of our partnership-made unmistakable to ordinary folk by the uniforms we issued to their militiamen, the guns we armed them with, and the bricks of cash we delivered to their homes and offices.

And she a few lines later adds the devastating conclusion that:

But in my view it is precisely this decision to ignore good governance and cultivate criminality that has led to the disastrous security conditions in the Afghan south. The independent-minded Afghans relinquish sovereignty to a state apparatus reluctantly, and only for as long as the state can either cow them or be seen to be acting in their practical interests. The current Afghan government is doing neither. The only obvious alternative-or beneficiary of a protest vote-is the Taliban.

The Obama administration is walking in to the wrong war.  Rather than recognize that nearly 7 years of rape and pillage of the lives, livlihood and welfare of the people of the Pushtun people of the South by a group of once anti-Soviet warlords is fueling a rebellion, they prefer to sink their heads in the quicksand of ‘the war against terror’.

Nothing that Mr. Gates has recently said, or President Obama parroted, acknowledges the complexity of the situation on the ground in the country.  There is talk of sending more troops, or the continuation of the bombing campaigns in the Southern provinces and Pakistan that are killing many, many civilians, and many other mind numbing regurgitations of ‘terror networks’ and ‘havens’ and ‘flushing out’ Al Qaeda and what not.

Even the Swat rebellion of local militants against the Pakistani government and the heavy handed presence/response of the Army is lumped into the broader ‘Taliban/Al-Qaeda’ collective.

There is a collective silence about the situation in Southern Afghanistan, and its fall out in Pakistan.  Writers, journalists, intellectuals and others seem oblivious to the fact that a people live in these areas, and that their voices need to be heard and engaged.

Instead, there is a determined effort or ignorance that insists that the entire region is ‘infested’ with terrorists that deserve little more than more American bombs and more  troops.  We insist on seeing the entire region and its people only through the prism of American foreign policy myopia’s – as we did in Vietnam, and refuse to see how the locals see the war.

In an extensive piece in the New Left Review called ‘Afghanistan: Mirage of a Good War’ writer Tariq Ali had this to say:

The argument that more NATO troops are the solution is equally unsustainable. All the evidence suggests that the brutality of the occupying forces has been one of the main sources of recruits for the Taliban. American air power…is far from paternal when it comes to targeting Pashtun villages. There is widespread fury among Afghans at the number of civilian casualties, many of them children. There have been numerous incidents of rape and rough treatment of women by ISAF soldiers, as well as indiscriminate bombing of villages and house-to-house search-and-arrest missions.’

The Afghans, particularly the Pushtuns, have been resisting imperial occupation of their lands for centuries.  This current insurgency may have more modern day causes, but it is a direct lineage of a battle for autonomy and independence from foreign invaders that the Pushtuns have fought repeatedly and are fighting again.

The Americans think that this is one of the many battles in ‘the war against terror’.

The Pushtuns however are not fighting this war.

There is a Pushtun nationalist insurgency in the works.  It is being actively supported by Pushtun communities residing in Pakistan. It has been fuelled by the rapacious and criminal regime that currently sits in Kabul and has used its position to not only pillage the country, but enrich a few, and carry out ethnically defined pogroms and acts of revenge for the last 7 years.

And the USA has been funding this.

The war begins in Afghanistan and not in the ‘havens’ of Pakistan.

And it can only end there.

President Obama is stepping into his first quagmire.

We are about to once again fight the wrong war.

Echoes of Guantanamo

In The Daily Discussion on February 8, 2009 at 1:34 pm

It begins with the Haitians.

HIV/AIDS infected Haitians in fact.

It begins with George Bush, the senior.

It begins in 1991.

Jean-Bertrande Aristide has been overthrown – a democratically elected President evicted by a military junta which later had to use excessive force to contain the protests of the citizens of the country.

Nearly 250,000 refugees fled the country in the face of the 1991 coup and a systematic campaign of executions and torture against Aristide partisans.

These ‘boat people‘ as George Bush’s administration labelled where, in clear violation of international law, forcibly repatriated despite clear evidence of threat to their lives.  The administration insisted on calling them ‘economic refugees‘ and forcibly turning them away from the shores of the USA.

In 1992 George Bush, sitting comfortably in his house at Kennebunkport, issued Executive Order 12,807, ordering the Coast G to return all boats and people to the country from which it came.

This order was onlly the latest in acts of indifference and cruelty that came years after a policy of forced repatriation that had already been in place – despite 4 years of the horror of the Duvaliar regime, and another 6 of a bloody military junta ensconsed in the palace at Port Au Prince.

The United States Supreme Court supported the actions of the government and the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) – an act that led Professor Kevin Johnson of the University of California to call the decision ‘shameful acquiescence’.

But continued pressure from human rights groups and from the U.N High Commission of Refugees, amongst others, led to a compromise.  The forced repatriation was a violation of international law, and it was hypocrtical since most all Cuban refugees were being given immediate asylum.

The government decided to do something.

And the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay was born.

And nearly 34,000 refugees were detained there in the most decrepit and inhumane of conditions.  And with this came the arguments of the extra-legality of the facility that would later be perfected for the illegal incarceration of suspected ‘Al-Qaeda’ and ‘Taliban‘ supporters.

‘While conceding that the Haitians are treated differently from other national groups who seek asylum in the US, the Government argued that the U.S. Constitution and other sources of U.S. and International law do not apply to Guantanamo’ – (Powell, page 59)

Confronted with the realization that the refugees where being detained at the facility for long periods of time – nearly 2 years for some, without a meaningful hearing, the administration called upon the finest legal minds it could find to justify its practices.

So basically, US officials could intercept boats of refugees fleeing persecution and detain them indefinitely and without access to legal advice and a fair trail at the US detention center at US military base at Guantanamo because it was not on US soil.  A policy that led one human rights lawyer to state:

‘The US policy of forced repatriation violated international legal
obligations of the United States under Article 33 of the Protocol
relating to the status of Refugees and undermines the credibiity of the
US commitment to international law in the eyes of the rest of the world’
– (O’Niell, page 39)

And amongst these detained refugees, there were about 250 very special refugees; the ones identified as HIV+.  And they were sent to Camp Bulkeley, the ‘HIV detention camp’.

What happened to them there is best read in Paul Farmer’s powerful book on health and human rights called ‘Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights and the New War on the Poor’ Suffice it to say that they were victims of the most inhumane, cruel and callous treatment at the hands of US military, health and legal officials.

There was little or no public outcry about the treatment of the Haitians.  Most Americans never even noticed the hypocrisy of a policy that gave instant asylum to even terrorists arriving at our shores from Cuba – men involved in the bombing of civilian aeroplanes or assassination attempts on President Castro.  We continue to harbor these terrorists on our shores today.

The Haitians however, fleeing from genuine repression, torture and killings, were repeatedly stopped and returned to the very shores where certain death awaited them.

In 2009 the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is expected to close.

Its legacy of torture, humiliation, beatings, illegal courts, and inhumane treatment of the innocent (as most nearly all of the even recent so-called ‘terrorist‘ detainees are), weak and suffering will not so easily be forgotten.