When I was a child, I made a model aeroplane kit of an American World War 2 bomber, a Consolidated B24 Liberator. For quite a time afterwards, I thought Liberator actually meant ‘dropper of vast amounts of deadly weaponry from my shiny silver belly.’ This made especial sense as I also had a model of another contemporary U.S. bomber called a Grumman A26 Invader, which looked generally the same. Indeed, even when I grew up and learned the real meaning of the word ‘liberator’, vestiges of my childhood misconception of the word continued to linger.
But is it really such a misconception?
This self-righteous notion of liberation seems particularly archaic coming from an American regime that prides itself on being current in comparison to the refuseniks of so-called ‘Old Europe’. More than ever, the Bush regime’s use of the term ‘liberation’ conjures up horribly backward imagery – like 11th century Knights of St. John ‘liberating’ Jerusalem, or 19th century Christian missionaries setting off to ‘liberate’ Africans from their own traditions and religions. And when the Americans talk about the Iraqis, they come across like Charles Darwin pitying the natives of Tiera Del Fuego. In one interview, an American NCO called the Euphrates a ‘muddy creek’ and complained that the towns he’d helped ‘liberate’ didn’t even have a McDonald’s. Ouch! This is such cliched Americana you wouldn’t laugh if someone did a TV sketch with those lines in it. And the difference between Charles Darwin and America? Well, Darwin had never helped to put the Tiera del Fuegans in their so-called plight in the first place.
So-called liberation is taking on a horribly Creedist angle. And it gets even scarier when we see photographs of US marines being baptised in Kuwait just before the invasion began. How can the Arab world see this as anything else but a religious battle? Both Blair and Bush are professed Christians, even if their religion is more Jesus Chrysler than old-fashioned hellfire. But their reluctance to ‘come out’ on the religious issue whilst simultaneously maintaining a post-7/11 moral high ground has merely forced regular Iraqis in line behind their secular leader. This is surely because, as one reporter termed it, it may be easier for Iraqis to support the devil they know than throw in their lot with the Great Satan of the world.
And please don’t think my anti-American stance is just a convenient liberalist stance. It’s borne through experience, too. American TV news is too inward-looking and self-righteously unwatchable, even for my American mother-in-law in New York, who seeks refuge in the BBC and its less partisan approach. And despite my views, I’m still playing with Sunn0))) at All Tomorrow’s Parties next week, not boycotting them merely for being from the USA, the way so many Americans are boycotting French products, or re-naming their French fries ‘freedom fries’. Like their insulting parachute drops of peanut butter supplies on Afghanistan, America’s simplistic ideas of freedom are exclusively based on giving the world the opportunity to be like them. It’s what the MC5 called ‘The American Ruse’. Ain’t but the one way to be free. Our way or no way. To quote Jello Biafra:
Gimme convenience or gimme death!
If it’s gonna be McDonald’s and MTV at every desert truckstop, somehow, I think Iraqis would rather gargle slug snot. Frazer Clark said it best when he wrote something like: “Iraq, we’ve come to liberate you. And if you don’t thank us we’ll exterminate you.”
For Iraq, liberation by America will always be a golden handcuffs award. We are all gradually learning that freedom American style is for the people of America only. The American Ideal? Just the American Deal. The Iraqi people will be told that they are being liberated. But, whereas liberation should bring choices, from America there will be only deals. So the Iraqi people are right to be suspicious of these propaganda-dropping invaders who refer to themselves as ‘liberators’. Hell, even as a child, I suspected that standing on the ground below where either a Grumman A26 Invader or a Consolidated B24 Liberator was dropping its shiny load, the end result would be much the same thing.
Love reign on ya,
JULIAN (M’Lud Yatesbury)