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Missive #45

By the end of this month, there will be no more Walmart stores in Portland.  More than 641,000 people live within the city limits of Portland, and so you would think that there should be a lot of money to be made there.  But Walmart has decided to wave the white flag.  Portland has been transformed into a complete and utter hellhole, and apparently Walmart executives have determined that things are not going to turn around any time soon.  So they have announced that the last two Walmart stores in Portland that were still operational will be permanently shut down. — Why Is Every Walmart In The Entire City Of Portland Being Permanently Shut Down? by Michael Snyder

A couple of Memes that had me laughing.

My hot flight attendant asked how I like my coffee. Trying to sound cool, I told her I like my coffee like I like my women.
That’s when she told me “That’s cute honey, but the coffee’s free. You don’t have to pay for it here!”

Wife said, “Our new neighbours are so in love. He kisses her, strokes her hair and hugs her. Why don’t you do that?”
I said, “Because I don’t know her that well yet”

America, Islam, and Those Prison Photos, or
Maybe Our Side Isn’t as Clueless as I’d Thought
By John Ross

Copyright 2004 by John Ross. Electronic reproduction of this article freely permitted provided it is reproduced in its entirety with attribution given.

 Before I start this week’s column, let me make it clear that I have no military experience whatsoever, beyond talking to members of the military and reading history books.  What follows is pure conjecture, but conjecture based on extended observation.

    That said, I do read a fair amount, people tend to open up to me about things they might not normally discuss, and I like to think I’m better than the next guy at thinking outside the box.  More specifically, I believe I have a better than average ability to identify and articulate the thought processes of others, when those thought processes are very different from my own (as with women.)

    Other cultures think differently than we do.  We (white) Americans pay lip service to this fact, but too often, that’s all it is…lip service.  We continue on our way, claiming to acknowledge the differences, but in fact assuming that others are using the same map that we are. 

    How many Americans were stunned when D.C. Mayor Marion Barry got filmed smoking crack with his mistress…and then got reelected?  Anyone who really paid attention to the beliefs and values of other groups would have been stunned if Barry had not been reelected after the hidden-cam video became public.  His constituency of inner-city D.C. residents loved seeing their leader smoking crack with a good-looking girlfriend.  Shee-it!  De Mayah’s a playah!  His constituents felt much the same way I would feel if the Mayor of St. Louis proposed giving tax credits to anyone opening a defensive shooting school in the city.  Different cultures value (and abhor) different things.

    You would think that anyone elected President of the United States would have a better grasp of the mindset and probable behavior of his counterparts in the Middle East than a 22-year-old kid from Missouri fresh out of a New England college, whose only exposure to the Arab world was visiting four Arab countries on a college Glee Club concert tour.  You would think that, but you’d be wrong.  Jimmy Carter never learned (in office, anyway) what became crystal clear to me in the first 24 hours of stepping foot on Arab soil in the summer of 1979: These people are following a different blueprint.  Since I’m in their country, I’d better take a good long look at the blueprint before doing something I’ll later regret.  Jimmy Carter never learned that Arabs view lying (especially to Westerners) the same way an American poker player views bluffing: legitimate strategy, not cheating.

    Refusal to understand a different culture sometimes works to our advantage, when it’s our enemies who don’t understand the way we think.  Friends in the Intelligence community in the very early ’80s told me that when Carter cancelled the B-1 bomber program in June of 1977, the Russians were absolutely terrified, to the point of paralysis.  They knew that the only reason to cancel such a program was to spend the money on a much more effective weapons system.

    Er, no. Carter just thought we didn’t need a replacement for the B-52, even though some of those airframes were older than their pilots.  Ronald Reagan was of a bit different mindset, and he rehabilitated the B-1 program after being elected in 1980.  The Iranian fundamentalists, who had bedeviled Carter for over a year, released the hostages about five minutes before Ronald Reagan took office in January of 1981.  Arabs respond to power.  They believed they could not outmaneuver Reagan.

    America has continued to be occasionally clueless about the Middle East in more recent times.  During the first Gulf War, Americans led Coalition forces that included Israel, Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia against Iraq.  We provided food for the soldiers, in the form of MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) which included Pork & Beans as one of the provided dinners.  Unh-hunh, that’s right.  We gave pork to our Jewish and Arab allies, and treated complaints about it as if the Arabs were our picky children who didn’t want to eat their broccoli.  Memo to whoever’s in charge of this sort of thing:  Arabs view eating pork as worse than Americans view eating human flesh.  Got that?  It’s not just some affectation.  THEY REALLY BELIEVE THIS STUFF.

    Shortly after 9/11, a married couple I know (with the amusing names of Jack and Jill) saw me sitting alone at a local restaurant.  They invited me to join them, and then launched into a tirade about how we should bomb the Arabs.  I allowed as to how that seemed to me like recommending we bomb Dallas in December of 1963.  Jack looked me in the eye and said “John Ross, you’re a liberal motherfucker.”  That was the first time I’d ever been called that.

    I tried to explain that it wasn’t an aversion to violence behind my reluctance to attack all of the Middle East, but rather that I thought such a plan misguided, unworkable, and doomed to failure.  I explained that these folks generally look forward to dying in combat, where Heaven has an endless supply of virgins.  Jill challenged me to advocate a better plan of action. I told her I had one that would cost next to nothing and might be very effective, but that America would never do it because they wouldn’t really believe in it.  I suggested that we show on the news all our ammunition factories such as Lake City Arsenal cranking out tens of millions of rounds of ammunition for M16s, with all the bullets lubricated with… pig fat.  Show Claymore mines, grenades, bayonets, and every other weapon where some piece of metal pierces the enemy’s flesh, being covered with lard before assembly.

    “That’s absolutely BRILLIANT!” Jack almost shouted.  “I’m going to call a friend I know at the FBI and have him pass it along to the right people!”  I told Jack that it was hardly an original idea, and I’m sure it had long ago been discussed and dismissed.

       There is the apocryphal story of Gen. John J. Pershing in the Philippines at the beginning of the last century, and his response to Islamic terrorism there when he was in command of the garrison.  According to legend, Pershing’s men captured some terrorists, forced them to dig their own graves, and tied them all to posts, execution style. The US soldiers brought in pigs, slaughtered them, and rubbed their bullets in the blood and fat. The terrorists saw that they would be contaminated with hogs’ blood, and could not enter Heaven, even if they died as terrorist martyrs.  Pershing’s soldiers shot all the terrorists but one, dumped their bodies into a mass grave, and dumped the hog guts atop the bodies. They let the lone survivor return to the terrorist camp and tell his comrades what happened to the others. This supposedly brought a stop to terrorism in the Philippines for the next 50 years.

    Which brings us to the pictures of the prisoners in Iraq.  Someone on our side gets it.

    Let’s get something straight here: For all the talk about the “religion of peace,” or “respecting different cultures,” or whatever other platitudes you want to spout, a cornerstone of Islamic faith as practiced in the Arab world is the absolute subjugation of women and the total repression of women’s sexual pleasure.  Understand this: There is no living creature in this country that Americans treat on an ongoing basis the way Arabs treat women.  

    As they are growing up, Arab men are taught that they can’t even look at women, let alone touch them. Sex outside of marriage isn’t just a sin, with Billy Graham or Jimmy Swaggart saying you’ll burn in Hell.  Under Islam, it’s a criminal offense.  If you’re lucky, you’ll only get a severe beating.  If you’re not, you’ll be executed.  In the late ’70s I read of a couple of TWA stewardesses that had violated this sort of law in Saudi Arabia (extramarital sex, kissing a man, exposing their ankles, I don’t remember what it was) and they were stripped to the waist and whipped in public.  TWA was powerless to do anything—the stews had to grin and bear it.  Our State Department, I believe, actually negotiated the whipping.  The alternative was execution.

    Arab culture is all about male power.  Our Intelligence people in Iraq obviously understand that.  That’s why they took pictures of Lynndie England (probably the smallest female soldier at Abu Ghraib prison) making fun of naked prisoners, cheerfully climbing on top of them after putting them in a naked dogpile, and nonchalantly keeping one of them naked at her feet on a leash.  A few days later it comes out that the Americans did an even more heinous thing:  They had sex with each other and made the prisoners watch. The horror!

    Here are some excerpts from the New York Post’s May 13 article “Leash Gal’s Sex Pix,” with my own comments:

Shocking shots of sexcapades involving Pfc. Lynndie England were among the hundreds of X-rated photos and videos from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal shown to lawmakers in a top-secret Capitol conference room yesterday.  “She was having sex with numerous partners. It appeared to be consensual,” said a lawmaker who saw the photos.

Call Anabolic Entertainment and Wicked Pictures. Tell them we’ve got the footage for GBG #219 and Army Brat 7.

And, videos showed the disgraced soldier — made notorious in a photo showing her holding a leash looped around an Iraqi prisoner’s neck mdash; engaged in graphic sex acts with other soldiers in front of Iraqi prisoners, Pentagon officials told NBC Nightly News.  “Almost everybody was naked all the time,” another lawmaker said.

Sounds like one of Hefner’s parties.

“It was pretty disgusting, not what you’d expect from Americans,” said Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.). “There was lots of sexual stuff — not of the Iraqis, but of our troops.”

Norm, are you an Arab or something?

“It was significantly worse than I had anticipated,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore). “Take the worst case and multiply it over several times.”

    I don’t think Ron gets out much, do you?  I mean, if I imagined the worst case, it might start out with “an American soldier using a pair of bolt cutters and a propane torch, clipping off a prisoner’s fingers one at a time before getting serious.”  If I multiplied that several times, I don’t think I’d come up with “forcing Iraqi prisoners to watch Americans have an orgy.”

    Call me a cynic, but in this digital age, even dim-witted people don’t take hundreds of photos of group activities they’re trying to conceal.  Whether or not you think the photos becoming public was an accident, and Bush’s apologies genuine, THE ARABS DON’T.  Lying is a standard, legitimate tactic, remember?  All the apologies in the world won’t change the message the photos sent.

    Newsweek had this to say in the article “The Secret War” in their April 21 issue:

Know thine enemy is a cardinal rule of war. Ignorance was costly for American soldiers fighting guerrillas in Vietnam. Before plunging into Iraq, U.S. psychological-warfare operators studied certain cultural stereotypes.

One was that young Arab toughs cannot tolerate insults to their manhood. So, as American armored columns pushed down the road to Baghdad, 400-watt loudspeakers mounted on Humvees would, from time to time, blare out in Arabic that Iraqi men are impotent. The Fedayeen, the fierce but undisciplined and untrained Iraqi irregulars, could not bear to be taunted.  …many Iraqis stormed out of their concealed or dug-in positions, pushing aside their human shields in some cases—to be slaughtered by American tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles. “What you say is many times more important than what you do in this part of the world,” says a senior U.S. psy-warrior.

    This is just too delicious:  Yell out “Hey, Ahmed!  You’re impotent!” and an Iraqi will jump out and, on foot, take on your tank.

    There’s a marvelous scene in the 1982 movie 48 Hours with Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte.  Murphy is a convict temporarily released and under the custody of cop Nolte, helping Nolte with an important case.  They go into a redneck C&W bar full of big, rough types.  The 140-pound Murphy pretends to be a cop, and ends up terrifying all the patrons as he shakes them down for information.  When he has them all thoroughly cowed, he drives his point home:

    “I’m your worst fucking nightmare: A nigger with a badge.”

    The senior psy-warrior Newsweek interviewed said “What you say is many times more important than what you do in this part of the world.”

    Those pictures said volumes.  They said “We’re your worst fucking nightmare: We’re Americans.  Our women are stronger than your men.  Our littlest women will strip naked the strongest men you can muster, and make fun of their puny cocks while enjoying a cigarette.  Our women love to get naked, love sex, and revel in the sexual prowess of their American male partners.  They’ll put impotent “men” like you naked on leashes whenever they want.  America is the most powerful country in the world, and guess what? Women control 70% of its money and 100% of its pussy.  What are you going to do about it? Behead some Jewish “contractor”? Fat lot of good that’s going to do.  We’ll put on some hearings for show, but you know the truth: we’ll do whatever we want whenever we want, and we’ll have our women do it.  Just for fun. Think we’re kidding? Wait ’til you see our beer ads.”

    Did our actions at Abu Ghraib prison violate the Hague Accords or the Geneva Convention or whatever?  Beats me.  In yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch there’s an article about an Afghan police colonel, Sayed Nabi Siddiqui, who was a prisoner of the Americans for a few weeks last year because some Afghan who didn’t like him told the Americans he was a Taliban agent.  According to the Afghan Human Rights Commission, Siddiqui’s is the only case they are investigating that involves “torture.”  The charges? American interrogators (women?) laughed at Siddiqui while putting their fingers in his ass, laughed at him while telling him his prayers were pointless, and laughed at him as they brought dogs into the same room where he was being held.

    Sounds to me like they’re filming the Arab edition of Fear Factor.

John Ross  5/14/2004

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