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Jewish World Review August 17, 2004 /30 Menachem-Av, 5764

Nat Hentoff

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Are Iraq's beheaders like our Minutemen? | The divisions in this nation have become increasingly surreal as the elections approach. Many jubilant Democrats venerate Michael Moore. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe were at the Washington premiere of Moore's so-called nonfiction "Fahrenheit 9/11." This alleged documentarian said of terrorists in Iraq:

"They are not the enemy. They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow — and they will win. Get it, Mr. Bush?"

Even the news media are unthinkingly describing murderous bombers, beheaders and assassins as "the insurgency." Historically, that phrase often had an honorable connotation, especially in America. George Washington and Samuel Adams were insurgents. Why not just call the jihadists and their allies by their rightful names: Homicidal terrorists.

Meanwhile, the growing chorus keening that this is a needless war includes not only Democratic strategists and acolytes, but also Ralph Nader. Fervently joining them are such selective antiwar groups as and the International Action Center. Have any of such fierce organizational opponents of the Iraq war called for free elections in Cuba or Zimbabwe as they, in effect, scorn the actual coming of free elections in Iraq?

Another unending refrain from those insisting President Bush made an appalling mistake by leading us into war in Iraq is the insistence that the United Nations could have contained Saddam Hussein. The U.N. weapons inspectors' mission did not include going into the torture chambers, rape rooms and bulging mass graves. Is it conceivable that France, China and Russia on the Security Council would have permitted such excursions? Also, consider the indignant objections to such an investigation by those U.N. members who themselves continue to commit crimes against humanity of their own citizens. And in the July 15 Financial Times, Bill Clinton said that Paris and Berlin were not prepared to remove Saddam Hussein under any circumstances.

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Bush did make a big mistake in focusing on weapons of mass destruction and Hussein's ties to Al Qaeda as the vital reasons for removing Hussein's machinery of death. Only belatedly and marginally did the administration reveal — in insufficiently grisly detail — that Hussein, in his long rule, far exceeded the horrors inflicted by the world's other despots.

In the Jan. 26, 2003, New York Times, reporter John Burns, who was in Iraq during Saddam's reign, told of executions "carried out by the Fedayeen Saddam, a paramilitary group" headed by Saddam's oldest son, Uday. "These men, masked and clad in black, make the (targeted) women kneel in busy city squares, along crowded sidewalks, or in neighborhood plots, then behead them with swords. The families of some victims claim they were innocent of any crime save that of criticizing Mr. Hussein."

There are days when I wonder if I'm having a bad dream. "Fahrenheit 9/11," for example, is playing in Cuba to large audiences long conditioned to distorted propaganda.

And, on July 1 of this year, Albert Hunt, the resident liberal on The Wall Street Journal editorial pages, wrote: "For many Iraqis it's a more dangerous country than even (under) the brutal Saddam regime."

Does he include the families of those whose Saddam's regime murdered, who continue to sift through the mass graves hoping to find the identifiable shards of those bodies?

Would many Americans — if fully informed by George W. Bush — have supported, entirely on humanitarian grounds, sending troops to remove Saddam Hussein, remembering how the United Nations and President Bill Clinton could have stopped the slaughter in Rwanda, but failed to act?

Michael Moore — whose movie somehow omits mention of the mass graves, rape and torture chambers — doesn't seem to think Hussein should have been forcibly removed, or that most Americans would care about stopping his atrocious horrors. Moore has said of his fellow Americans: "They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet. ... We don't know anything that's happening outside our country."

So, Michael, who exactly is flocking to see your movie?

When Hussein's prisons were briefly opened up while Hussein was still in power, there was disclosure in the American media of the gouging of eyes of his prisoners, and the raping of women in front of their husbands for whom the torturers wanted to extract information.

But even now, when much more of Hussein's atrocities have been disclosed, a reporter from the New York Observer asked folks on the street if they could say anything positive about Hussein.

In the July 12 Observer, quite a few could. An editor of an arts magazine said of Hussein: "He's committed. Actually, he's not duplicitous. I think he's very much open about what he believes and what he will do with his power, which is actually unlike Bush, who is incredibly duplicitous and lies."

A pity this woman couldn't have voted for that murderously committed leader of his people while Hussein was — unopposed — on the ballot in prewar Iraq.

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Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights and author of several books, including his current work, "The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance". Comment by clicking here.

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