[Marxism] Re: Tariq Ali: What's next in Iraq?

lshan at bcn.net lshan at bcn.net
Sun Apr 11 16:19:01 MDT 2004

At the end of the Eric Ruder's interview with Tariq Ali, there is a
discussion of the "insurgents" violence in Falluja.

The interviewer asks:
Q: THE MEDIA is playing up the killings of the U.S. contractors in Falluja
as evidence of the barbarism of the Iraqi "insurgents." How do you think we
should respond to this?

In his answer Tariq first points out that the western media didn't want to
show how bold the opposition to the U.S. is. This was why they held back the
most gruesome images. Of course, our media said that it was because they
were being tasteful.

On the question of "barbarism", Tariq replies that "I've always argued that
when you have ugly occupations, you cannot have a pretty resistance. It's
the character and form of the occupation that determines the nature of the

Since this is a British paper interviewing a British citizen, I offer this
selection from Malcolm X in his debate at the Oxford Union in December
1964.* The whole speech may be seen as continuing one of Malcolm X's most
powerful themes: how the media is used to make the victim the criminal and
the criminal the victim.**

ŒMalcolm X Talks to Young People.¹

They take American-trained--they take pilots that they say are
American-trained--and this automatically lends respectability to them,
[Laughter] and then they will call them anti-Castro Cubans. And that¹s
supposed to add to their respectability [Laughter] and eliminate the fact
that they¹re dropping bombs on villages where they have no defense
whatsoever against such planes, blowing to bits Black women--Congolese
women, Congolese children, Congolese babies. This is extremism. But it is
never referred to as extremism, because it is endorsed by the West, it¹s
financed by America, it¹s made respectable by America, and that kind of
extremism is never labeled as extremism. Because it¹s not extremism in
defense of liberty. And if it is extremism in defense of liberty, as this
talk has just pointed out, it¹s extremism in defense of liberty for the
wrong type of people. [Applause]
. . .
Same person: I wonder what--exactly what sort of extremism you would
consider killing of missionaries to be? [From the audience: " Hear, hear!"

Malcolm X: I¹d call it the type of extremism that was involved when America
dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and killed 80,000 people, or over 80,000
people, both men, women, children, everything. It was an act of war. I¹d
call it the same kind of extremism that happened when England dropped bombs
on German cities, and Germans dropped bombs on English cities. It was an act
of war. And the Congo situation is war. And when you call it war, then
anybody that dies, they die a death that is justified. But those who
are--[Protests from audience: " For shame!" ] But those who are in the
Stanleyville regime, sir, are defending their country. Those who are coming
in, are invading their country, and some of the refugees that were
questioned on television in this city a couple days ago pointed out that had
the paratroopers not come in, they doubted that they would have been
molested. They weren¹t being molested until the paratroopers came in.

I don¹t encourage any acts of murder, nor do I glorify in anybody¹s death,
but I do think that when the white public uses its press to magnify the fact
that there are the lives of white hostages at stake--they don¹t say "
hostages," every paper says "white hostages"--they give me the impression
that they attach more importance to a white hostage and a white death than
they do the death of a human being despite the color of his skin. [Applause]

* I chose this selection because it was a debate at the Oxford Union. Here
is a fuller development of the same issues.

** Walter Lippmann wrote a long piece about Malcolm X on this subject.

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