Racism in any form is a crime against humanity, should be classifed as an international crime and dealt with in the most severe manner. It’s especially appalling when it comes at the hands of people who claim to be somehow rightly guided, imbued with the essence of humanity who get that notion twisted in a manner which allows them to oppress whomever they like; America comes to mind, along with the chosen of Israel and the descendants of Muhammad. All are nations or groups of people who have thrown out the essence of their beginnings and embraced their own self styled nationalism and cultural highhandedness which has become exclusive and oppressive. They have to be reminded of where they came from when they get these high and haughty notions that have nothing in common with their “essence”.
Jonathan Cook has poignantly described the racism of political zionism existent in modern day Israel, against the black Jews of Ethiopia and it’s something those of us who are particularly sensitive to racism have read and seen all too often. I don’t think for a moment that the intent of the Israeli government is to control the birth rate of Ethiopians when sex has too often been used to experiment on people of color before. In a country that needs people to populate a land and force other people out, limiting the births of Jews would seem to be counterproductive, or maybe the Israelis think they have a high enough birth rate to do that without the Ethiopians? Go figure.
But the racism against people of color doesn’t stop with the Israelis. It’s hard to say whether racism was imported to Iraq by western invading forces or was and has always been present there….the latter seems to be the case, but it’s abhorrent nonetheless and no less acceptable. Reading the following text is almost like reading an American history book but it takes place in a land miles apart from America, but almost identical in its implication and result; the vision of dancing ‘darkies’ who seem to get their joy and happiness in providing it for others, as entertainers, troubadours, mimes, et.al.
The election of Barack Obama to the U.S. presidency was celebrated with special fervor by Iraqis of African descent in the southern port city of Basra.
Although they have lived in Iraq for more than 1,000 years, the black Basrawis say they are still discriminated against because of the color of their skin, and they see Obama as a role model. Long relegated to menial jobs or work as musicians and dancers, some of them have recently formed a group to advance their civil rights.
“People here see us as slaves,” says Jalal Diyaab, a 43-year-old civil rights activist. “They even call us abd, which means slave.”
Diyaab is the general secretary of the Free Iraqi movement. He sits with more than a dozen other men in a narrow, high-ceilinged room in a mud-brick building in Zubair, talking about a history of slavery and oppression that he says dates back to at least the ninth century.
“Black people worked on the plantations around Basra, doing the hard labor, until there was a slave uprising in the mid-800s,” says Diyaab. Black people ruled Basra for about 15 years, until the caliph sent troops. Many of the black rebels were massacred, and others were sold to the Arab tribes.
Slavery was abolished here in the 19th century, but Diyaab says black people in modern-day Iraq still face discrimination.
“[Arabs] here still look at us as being incapable of making decisions or even governing our lives. People here are 95 percent illiterate. They have terrible living conditions and very few jobs,” he says.
It’s interesting how Obama is looked at as a role model by the dark skinned people of Iraq. His presidency takes on something of a world wide model for hope and good will. I am distressed that Muslim Iraqis see something in common with a man who is the commander in chief of a military that still occupies their country and whose government seems intent on oppressing people merely because of the color of their skin or the religion they believe in. Symbolism is frightening sometimes, isn’t it?