Sunday, December 8, 2019

 The one thing the people in power despise and hate the most is to be laughed at. Make sure that your strategy includes demeaning the oppressor, taking the clothes off him or her, making them look like buffoons. Now this is an important strategy because the white American male is very insecure.  

Dhoruba bin-Wahad

First of a Three-Part Series

At first glance, British parliamentarian George Galloway’s 2005 appearance  before the U. S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee for Investigations had all the hallmarks of a lamb headed to slaughter. From his lofty perch, Minnesota’s junior Senator, the Republican Norm Coleman, towered over the august chamber like Zeus atop Mount Olympus. Tall and angular with a helmet of sandy brown hair and the telegenic blandness of a morning news anchor, he banged his gavel authoritatively on the desktop to bring the hearing to order, while the balding Galloway– shorter, stouter, and older than the committee chairman–initially appeared ill-at-ease in the dock, his natty suit and smart necktie lending him an almost effeminate air.

A former prosecutor, Coleman didn’t possess anything resembling a smoking gun in alleging that Galloway pocketed millions in kickbacks to help Saddam Hussein circumvent an international embargo, yet delivered his opening statement with the confidence of a man accustomed to holding all the cards.

“We have your name on Iraqi documents, some prepared before the fall of Saddam . . . that identify you as one of the allocation holders.¨ . .  .  another official in talking about another allocation holder said, ‘Of course they made a profit. That’s the whole point.’ Surcharges and oil contracts were given back to the Saddam regime and were the responsibility of the allocation holder. The evidence clearly indicates you, as an allocation beneficiary, who transferred the allocations to Fawaz Zureikat, who became chairman of your (nonprofit) organization Mariam’s Appeal.  Senior Iraqi officials have confirmed that you in fact received oil allocations and that the documents that identify you as an allocation recipient are valid.”

When he was done, Coleman ceded the floor, at which point Galloway proceeded, in plain proletarian English, to rip the chairman a new asshole.

“Senator, I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice,” Galloway said, according to an edited version of his remarks. “I want to point out areas where there are – let’s be charitable and say errors–you assert that I have had ‘many meetings’ with Saddam Hussein. This is false. I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein and by no stretch of the English language can that be described as many meetings. As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and to try and persuade him to let United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country, a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of Defense made of his.

Now you have nothing on me, Senator, except my name on lists of names from Iraq, many of which have been drawn up after the installation of your puppet government in Baghdad. I gave my heart and soul to try to stop the mass killing of one million Iraqis, most of them children. I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims, did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong .”

When Galloway finished, a Senate staffer later told me, there was a deafening silence inside the chamber, as though a live grenade had been tossed into an enemy trench, only to be hurled back in the direction from whence it came.

It was not, however, just the Scotsman’s concussive invective, his defiance of the unwritten protocols that afford Capitol Hill lawmakers a certain deference, or even his exposure of Coleman and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Michigan Senator Carl Levin, as frauds. What was truly remarkable was that in contrast to his accusers’ ineffable torpor, Galloway seemed to be speaking an entirely different language, reveling in the enunciation of colorful phrases such as “schoolboy-howler” or “cock-a-poop,” while Coleman’s monotone was cold and officious, his language measured, and his smile as wan and saccharine as a used car salesman trying to coerce some sucker to sign on the bottom line.

Galloway’s declarations of  solidarity with the Iraqi people transformed the chamber into a pulpit, not testifying so much as bearing witness, his sermon an interrogation of our material reality.
Galloway’s declarations of  solidarity with the Iraqi people transformed the chamber into a pulpit, not testifying so much as bearing witness, his sermon an interrogation of our material reality. Coleman and Levin drily hammered away at esoteric legal points with transactional language so bloodless and pious that it suggested a foreclosure on all possibilities save one: this was their world, and theirs alone.