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Reigns of Terror

 I think I spent a good chunk of the last eight years writing letters to W, to his secretary of state, and to my senators, protesting everything from  W’s dismemberment of the environment, to the war in Iraq, the war on women, and the constant threat of attacking Iran.  We Americans have killed a lot of people in Iraq and Afghanistan; we’ve left behind uranium-tipped bullets and other appalling agents of destruction.  

As a direct result of 8 years of W’s iron-fisted Global Gag rule, 43 million women in Asia, Africa and eastern Europe are dead or seriously ill because U. S. policy forced the closure of medical clinics, including not only abortions but pre-natal care and general health care.

I say all this not just because the cloud is beginning to lift with Barack, but because from time to time, someone will write demanding to know why I don’t denounce Israeli behavior in Gaza, the West Bank or elsewhere.  No one ever asks me to denounce any other behavior, not even American.  Only Israeli.

So let me say here: I denounce all slaughter.  I denounce U.S. slaughter in the Middle East and Central Asia.  I denounce Robert Mgabe for the genocide he is committing in Zimbabwe: he is actively allowing cholera to run rampant through his country, on top of the dire starvation he has engineered.  

I denounce honor killings.  I denounce the slaughter of women who have been raped.  I denounce Israeli destruction of families and homes in Gaza.  I denounce Nigerian atrocities, and those committed in China.  I denounce Pakistani atrocities.  I denounce enslavement of girls and women in the brothels of Thailand, and I abhor those men who rape girls.  I denounce throwing acid on girls trying to go to school in Afghanistan. I denounce the enslavement of women and the refusal to allow us to freely choose when and if we will become pregnant.  I denounce Nicaragua for imprisoning women who’ve had abortions.  

 I denounce U.S. torture of suspects.  I denounce those who fire rockets into Israel. I denounce the Chechniyan atrocities, and those in Georgia, and those in Uzbekhistan, and those in Congo.  I denounce those who seduce people into becoming suicide bombers, while hiding safe and sound somewhere else.  And the ongoing genocide in Darfur, which no longer even rates a line on the evening news.

Now, do we all feel better?

What exactly have I accomplished, except to show that I’m another chardonnay, or in my case, cappuccino liberal.  I was at a bookfair in Europe 2 years ago, having dinner with a Lebanese bookseller.  W and Cheney were once again ramping up their war rhetoric against Iran and I was terrified that we would do the unspeakable.  The Lebanese bookseller said that until you have lived through war you have no idea how terrible it is, and I’m sure she’s right, but we were sitting in a private home overlooking a private lake, drinking lovely burgundy–both of us: “This is terrible,” she said, sip.  “Horrible,” I agreed, sip.  I felt nauseated with myself–a parody of a John LeCarre novel.

 My acts are puny and singularly ineffectual: letters, op-ed pieces, lectures.  The occasional useless outraged phone call to W’s White House, or to a foreign envoy.  I’m not sure what else I could do, except I know I should do it more.  And turning Israel, or any other country, into the Only Demon, is a convenient way of forgetting what may be happening in one’s own backyard.  Just look at America, the demonization of Iraq–and the 43 million dead women we’ve left in our wake.

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