The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

A Few Questions For A Hollowed Guest

Cross your legs girls, gorgeous George is coming to town.

John O’Farrell

On Wednesday 4th August, the halls of St Louise's comprehensive will rebound with the shrill trills of the peaceniks of west Belfast, as Feile an Phobail welcomes the dishonourable Member of Parliament for Glasgow Kelvin, George Galloway.

Much has been made (and will be on the night) of the appearance on the panel of West Belfast Talks Back of Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP MP for those lucky denizens of outer West Belfast, those marooned in Lagan Valley. It will take some discipline on the part of the organisers/gatekeepers of the event to ensure that the side isn't let down by crudely put reminders of wee Jeffrey's senior role in the Orange Order, or his refusal to have any physical truck with Shinners, long after he shared a bill with Tom Hartley in September 1995 in the Europa Hotel.

That would be bad manners, so let's leave Jeffrey alone. If anyone in the audience who fancies themselves as a democrat, a believer in human rights, an empathiser with those who suffer under vile dictatorships, in other words, any person who could be recognised in any society as a republican, then save your bad manners for George Galloway.

As a brief service to any candidates for the public service rudeness required to stand up and spoil the party, here are some suggested questions for the evening's star turn.

1. George will almost certainly have a pop at the antics of US Army Reserve men and women who cruelly abused prisoners in Abu Grihab prison. This is an open goal, but before we all start shouting the same tune, remember that before the crude home-porno pics emerged, that other pictures were taken in the same prison. After the liberation of Baghdad last April, local markets started selling pirate DVDs of home videos made by Baathist torturers. These videos included scenes of prisoners being flayed with live electric cables, and being eaten by dogs, not threatened by them. This is not an appeal for ‘equivalence’ ­ the torture and murder that happened in Abu Grihab under Saddam was worse, far worse, both qualitatively and quantitatively. It was not ‘softening up’ suspects. It was pure murder, done slowly, deliberately and systematically.

Question: how many prisoners were murdered by the US in Abu Grihab, and what was a comparable figure during any similar timescale under the old regime?

2. George spent an Xmas or two in the charming company of his friend Tariq Aziz. As they chatted under the palms with a Cuban cigar after the goose was cooked and devoured, did Tariq reminisce about that happy autumn of 1979, when Saddam consolidated his total control of the Baathist party and at a videotaped session of the party 'exposed' a Zionist plot within the party, dabbing an eye with his hanky as almost half the party leadership was named, shamed and removed from the room by armed goons? Did Tariq tell George what it was like to go to the cellers and personally execute several of his old comrades? How does such ruthlessness compare with the mendacity of the Blairites?

3. As part of the Feile, a play 'not suitable for under-16s' called May Our Faces Haunt You is being performed at St Mary¹s College. The subject of the play is ‘sexual violence as a deliberate act of war’. Such atrocities as we are witnessing at present in Darfur, where proxies of the fanatical Islamist junta are using gang rape as a tactic of terror and displacement against Muslim women and their families in the same way, and for the same purpose, as Christian thugs instituted rape camps in Bosnia a decade ago.

No doubt George will express his horror. Will he also express his righteous rage at the practice of raping female prisoners in front of their husbands and children in Abu Grihab, the Baathist method of ‘softening up’ suspects? Will George further have vile things to say about Saddam's belated conversion to the joys of Sharia law? Notably the practice of publicly beheading ‘prostitutes’ in the name of Allah? That the witnesses to many of these swings of the sword of the Lord were neighbours of the women, knowing full well (as was intended) that they were doctors, lawyers and mothers who happened to be overheard criticising the regime? That this was the Baathist way of sorting out dissent in the Iraqi middle class, devastated by UN sanctions, and further squeezed by the local corrupt cronyism? How do you stop a martyr becoming recognised as such? Execute them as a pariah, a prostitute, a traitor, an un-Iraqi.

4. George made his name as the public face of War on Want, excoriating the Reaganite tactics of the Cold War, the backing of sordid dictatorships in Africa and Latin America. George was the friend and ally of the Kurds, the ANC, the campesinos of Central America and the Sandinistas. What changed him after the 1991 Gulf War? Why can he not spot the difference between Daniel Ortega and Tariq Aziz? Why can he not get over the real paradox for the left, namely the desire to overthrow violent dictatorships in Iraq and Afghanistan among the hated neoconservatives, rather than installing and arming them as was the uninterrupted US practice for most (actually all) of the 20th century?

5. Considering the habit of Irish republicans of picketing the gates of whatever landed estate is hosting HRH Charlie Windsor, on the grounds that among the dozens of honorary titles he holds is that as C-in-C of the Parachute Regiment, and is therefore personally responsible for the murder of 14 Derry Catholics in 1972, and considering that in 1994, six years after the Anfal ‘campaign’ that consisted of unarmed Kurdish villagers having mustard gas shells dropped into their villages, George greeted Saddam (Saladin reborn as Stalin) thus: ‘Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability.’

Question: who is the greatest hypocrite, George or the audience of fawning dupes morally fellating him in St Louise's?

6. Famously, George got a bundle from the Christian Science Monitor and the Daily Telegraph for erroneously claiming that his ‘friendship’ (libel discussion makes me cautious) with the top Tontons in Baghdad was bought. As we know, nothing could be further from the truth. So, just for clarification, does this mean that George spent a decade cheerleading Baathism in the West, spewing fawning utterances to Saddam three years after he crushed the Shi'ite and Kurd uprisings by dispatching about 300,000 ungratefuls and having the diseased company of Tariq Aziz for yuletide by the Tigris, that George did all this for nothing? Because he wanted to? That he liked their company?

7. Here are some lines by WH Auden. Do they remind you, the reader, more of George, Saddam, or Blair?

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

That was from 1938. Thirty years later (or, twenty years before Halajba), the Soviet forces so admired by Galloway mowed down ‘socialism with a human face’ in Prague. During the dark years that followed, as many of the West’s left ignored the plight of their comrades in Eastern and Middle Europe, these lines were widely circulated as evidence that the true nature of their realpolitik was not forgotten:

The Ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for man,
But one prize is beyond his reach,
The Ogre cannot master speech.
About a subjugated plain,
Among its desperate and slain,
The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
While drivel gushes from his lips.

“The disappearance of the Soviet Union is the biggest catastrophe of my life,” said George Galloway.

There's nothing more to say, really.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent


Historians and economists {subsidized by governments} are very good at creating and perpetuating myths that justify increasing the power placed in the hands of government.
- Reuven Brenner

Index: Current Articles

23 July 2004

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I Once Knew a Boy...
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Out of the Ashes Arose the um, ah, Equality Agenda
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New Sinn Fein and the Schomberg Society
Martin Cunningham

A Few Questions for a Hollowed Guest
John O Farrell

Support the Vacumm
Pauline Hadaway

The Rwandan Holocaust and Western Indifference
Anthony McIntyre

Empire-Speak: A Primer in Practical Translation
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The Paravisional Alliance
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Attack Against Antrim Bandsmen reports "Flawed" say Community Representatives
Sean Mac Aughey

A Firm Part Of The Labour Movement - The ‘Belfast SWP’ (Part 1)
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Israel Builds Another Wall
M. Shahid Alam


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