God help the children, God help the innocent women and children, God help the people who are treated by such barbarians parading as doctors | ENA BOUTLIER
Headline: “Nova Scotia’s Hardcore Medic: Springhill’s Fretter brings both giggles, toughness to posting duty in Panjwaii” by Bill Graveland, Canadian Press, in The Chronicle Herald (Sunday, 26 November 2006), the Halifax Daily News (Saturday, 25 November 2006), and other newspapers across Canada.
HALIFAX (3 December 2004) – THIS BIZARRE piece of pro-war propaganda is laden with both racist and ethnocentric sentiment combined with overt sexism and female objectification that trivialises war and human suffering. The female medic, a mother of five, indicates that members of the Afghan Army “are forever begging her to pose for pictures with them” because of her “… ‘blond hair and blue eyes’.”
“‘They don’t get to see much of that here. The boys keep teasing me that they’re lining their grape huts with my picture just like they do with their porn for their vehicles’, she giggled. ‘They think its cool that I have a gun and I stand there with my rifle and do action poses. I’ve had at least 200 photographs so I’m a pinup for the Canadian army’.”
The article goes on:
“But look behind the aesthetics and you’ll find someone who has been in the heat of action and watched close friends die. ‘I’ve never hated anyone in my life until my buddies started dying and there’s nothing in the world that can bring them back’ŠBut the words sounded little like those of a medic. ‘There is satisfaction that these people are not going tot be able to do it again. We’re pushing them back as far as we can every time we get a chance to go out there. The Americans call it huntingŠ”.
About treating “enemy” combatants, she says “We treat them because we have to but there’s not one person who will say they want to”.
Does that man have a mother, a father, a wife and children, aunts and uncles and cousins?
The description of treating an injured Afghan National Army soldier who allegedly “beat the crap out of her while having seizures after being injured by an improvised explosive device” is cold and impersonal. Having pricked herself with a needle while trying to inject him with morpheme, the man vomited. The medic quickly began HIV treatment but found out she was not infected. Is this the most harrowing tale she can drum up? Being pricked by an improperly placed needle while a dying man convulses in her midst? Does that man have a mother, a father, a wife and children, aunts and uncles and cousins? Is he not as much human as she is? The thought of being “treated” by a “medic” with such an over-inflated view of herself, who clearly is a racist, is chilling. Even if this story is stripped of the medic’s own lack of empathy in the face of human suffering, the reporting of it is equally deplorable in the way that it trivialises and demeans human suffering of a people under occupation and aggression. And such brutish behaviour is supposed to characterize “peacekeepers”?
The blood lust and lack of human empathy, and the fact that Canada is taking orders from United States is further reinforced by the report highlighting a visit from an American female medic who is also serving in Afghanistan. After visiting the medic of the story, the US medic’s heart-warming comment was: “We haven’t had any Canadian casualties – only civilian causalities – its kind of a rush when it happens”. God help the people who are treated by such barbarians parading as doctors (and obviously not doctors without borders!).
Such reporting is unethical, inhumane and utterly despicable
This kind of journalism is absolutely unacceptable in a society that is bold enough to call itself civilised and democratic. Not only does it promote ethnic hatred and racism against Afghans, but it attempts to bolster the war cause through these means. Did the reporter ever consider the plight of the Afghani, Iraqi (or for that matter any immigrant who falls under the Canadian constitution’s “visible immigrant” category) immigrant child in Nova Scotian schools who faces racism and real violence every day and how his article might heighten this? Such reporting is unethical, inhumane and utterly despicable.
Rather than the esteemed scientist who is there to perform the Hippocratic oath, this woman is objectified for her sex-value, in the macho military complex
On top of all this, it reinforces sexist stereotypes. Rather than the esteemed scientist who is there to perform the Hippocratic oath, this woman is objectified for her sex-value, in the macho military complex. The Canadian soldiers and their porn, out there “hunting” (by implication) for brown-haired, brown-skinned, brown-eyed Afghans is a very disturbing and revolting example of racism, sexism and pro-US, pro-war propaganda. And this just three weeks after the second John Hopkins public health study published in the Lancet medical journal indicating “655,000 more people have died in Iraq since coalition forces arrived in March 2003 than would have died if the invasion had not occurred.”  This, after the horrific facts of the atrocities and crimes against humanity that were perpetrated by United States forces, male and female, of detained women and men of Iraq. This, after the planned rape and murder of Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, the 14-year-old Iraqi girl, her parents and six-year-old sister who had to watch on in horror and who were then murdered themselves. How could anyone sleep at night after writing this? This article is demeaning to all women, and in particular contradicts the very lingo of the media when it promotes the necessity to occupy Afghanistan to protect the poor oppressed women and usher in western gender norms. God help them if that happens.
* * *
TWENTY YEARS AGO I and some of my friends were in Canada World Youth. It was always inculcated in us how proud we were to have our flag on our oversized back packs as we traveled across the globe (and how this was in contrast to the intense shame associated with the flag of the United States). We may have been a bit naive about the reality of Canadian history then, but nowadays it is unlikely that any young conscious Canadian would want to bear their flags when they travel.
The Canadian bourgeoisie have positioned Canada to serve US interests during the two decade, predictable movement of capital away from the west to the east and the neo-liberal arrangements that simultaneously try to protect the US dollar and benefit from the new markets. It has carried various legal manoeuvrings to undermine Canadian sovereignty and annex the country to the United States. Its military endeavours during the formation of these new arrangements have aligned Canada more and more with US methods, tactics and racist notions. Who can forget one poignant example from a decade or so ago – the 16-year-old Somali boy who stole some food from the Canadian peace-keeping stores? When caught, he was severely tortured for hours one night, photographed as a humiliating trophy piece, and then murdered by the Canadian peace keepers. His grieving parents were given some goats as compensation for the loss of their dear child.
Such military women and men emerged from the advanced stages of an industrial capitalist complex in which humans are reduced to brutes with no culture, with no notion of right and wrong, whose satisfactions are filled through consumption of products produced in countries where industrial capitalism is in its early forms. In short, these people manifest the dialectic of the shift of capital to the east, and the morbid symptoms of a society in decline, of a society that has exhausted its originality and its potential to contribute anything new to humanity. These are the sons and daughters of a Canada that has over the past two decades, modelled itself after United States, through tax cuts and cut backs in all social spending, closure of schools and hospitals, and the production of a generation of self-centred personalities driven by the morality of narcissism and consumption, with morbid urges to fill the emptiness that exists in their spirit, from shopping at Wal-Mart to watching a United States media of sex and violence. Of course these actions have also irresistibly produced a heightened level of consciousness among many women, workers and youth, who are fighting for a society fit for human beings to live in, a New Canada. These people, who, to echo Gorky, I will call: the People of the Future.
The People of the Past, like the medic and mother of five highlighted in this article, the Americans “hunting” for human flesh in Iraq and Afghanistan, the ghoulish German troops exhibiting themselves with human skulls, and all those who would support the agenda of the global bourgeoisie, are now being told that they are murdering in the name of blue-eyed, blond-haired supremacy; even the esteemed value of patriotism does not work on this generation!
God help the children who must bear witness to these thugs of civilised society invading their country and murdering and humiliating their parents and grand parents. God help the innocent women and children who die in the name of democracy; democracy, as one CBC documentary indicated some time ago, epitomized in the form of “liberating” beauty salon entrepreneurial types cropping up in the cities, to replace the terrible feudal oppression of the burka.
Let us not forget that Afghanistan has never been colonized. Their people have defeated every attempt to subjugate them…
If such apologists do not see that the women of Canada are also the recipients of an insidious cultural burka: the structural violence equating their gender with the degree of blondness, blue-eyed ness and pornability or pin-up-ability so to speak. Ask any girl who has grown up here how much she spends on cosmetics to eliminate the odours, contours, facial lines and features, and normal form of her body so as to conform to the vision of gender democracy in North America. Ask the mom who runs to tie up the fallen bikini of her two-year-old at swimming lessons, lest someone get a glance of those non-existent (given her age!), symbolic breasts. God help the women who will be saved by such ideologues as represented by this blond-haired, blue-eyed medic. What can such a woman offer to the Afghan woman who has her own cultural beliefs, outlook and her own social practice, which are rooted in a long and rich history? Let us not forget that Afghanistan has never been colonized. Their people have defeated every attempt to subjugate them, including the British three times during the 1800s. The woman of this country are likely very proud people who don’t want to be “helped” by any blond-haired blue-eyed racist posing for action photos for its “national army” as her countrymen die all around her.
I take the bus every day, I see the shabby state that many Canadian youth are in as compared to countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Even a shred of humanity in them seems to have been drained from them. Not even a dim glow of empathy and warmth. They have been stripped of their humanity by a ruthless capitalist system that offers them nothing. It is no wonder then that it is so easy for them to go so far away to Afghanistan and kill off “the other.” It is easy to practice misogyny (woman hating) for Canada, a place where single mothers experience worst poverty than anywhere else in the world, where domestic violence is a crisis, and where young girls are born and bred to think of themselves as sexual objects who hate their own bodies. This is the democracy that Canada is offering to bring to Afghanistan?
Am I reading too much into this? I don’t think so. This kind of journalism from the Canadian Press and serialized in the mass media across Canada does form public opinion about “the other” by many who read it in an insidious manner that naturalizes notions of people other than the Euro settler ideal type. It is precisely this kind of journalism that is going to lead to the racist acts of violence against immigrants, Blacks and Mi’kmaq in Nova Scotia, for example. And above all, it yet again attempts to fool Canadian people that we are fighting for the so-called “Canadian values” and “fighting for our country” (which in this case has been abstracted into a racial type: blonde-haired and blue-eyed) when in reality “we” are being used to serve the interests of imperialism, the formation of massive trade blocks, the creation of financial oligarchy, the development of global monopolies, the fact that surplus production becomes less important than capital surplus generation as it moves across borders (surplus profit created through investment and moving capital), and indeed the inevitable clash of these forces in the search for new markets and cheap labour in the useless attempt to diminish the variable costs of labour with the constant cost of technological increase (decline in rate of profit). All these features, laid out by VI Lenin in Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, are in motion here and now.
The global bourgeoisie are a block to progress and we are witnessing their death throes. They have the world living in gutters, while they, the global one per cent, have icing on their cake with blond-haired bimbos to boot. They are on their last legs and are desperately trying to keep the mass of humanity away from the social product to keep afloat a bit longer; yet their time is running out and they can sense it. The dam they have erected is weakening against the pressure of the People of the Future; those who see beyond the dominant hegemony, who have extricated themselves from their historical crib if you will, and who are vigorously on the path to progress to make society fit for human beings to live in.
All honour to the people of Afghanistan!
Canada, get out of Afghanistan!
 Study Claims Iraq’s ‘Excess’ Death Toll Has Reached 655,000, David Brown, Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, October 11, 2006; A12
see also: “100,000 Iraqi civilians dead, says study,” Sarah Boseley, Guardian, health editor, Friday October 29, 2004
* * *
For your information: “Canadian medics just as hardcore as combat troops in Afghanistan”
PANJWAII, Afghanistan (CP) – Don’t let the blonde hair, blue eyes and dazzling white smile fool you. Cpl. Shannon Fretter of Springhill, N.S. is as hardcore as any grizzled fighting man in the Canadian Forces.
Fretter, a medic who has been stationed with troops during the heaviest fighting in Panjwaii district, was on her way to Kandahar Air Field on Friday for a couple of days of downtime. “I just want to smell like a girl again,” she lamented, pulling at a strand of hair sticking out from beneath her toque.
Fretter, 32, is a mother of five and has a husband waiting at home in Petawawa, Ont. She has become a popular subject for members of the Afghan National Army, who are forever begging her to pose for pictures with them.
“It’s the blonde hair and blue eyes. They don’t get to see it that much here. The boys keep teasing me that they’re lining the grape huts with my picture just like they do with their porn for their vehicles,” she giggled.
“They think it’s cool that I have a gun and I stand there with my rifle and do action poses. I’ve had at least 200 photos so I’m a pinup girl for the Canadian army,” Fretter said.
But look behind the aesthetics and you find someone who has been in the heat of action and watched close friends die.
“I’ve never hated anyone in my life until my buddies started dying and there’s nothing in the world that can bring them back,” Fretter said thoughtfully. But the words sound little like those of a medic.
“There is the satisfaction that these people are not going to be able to do it again. We’re pushing them back as far as we can every time we get a chance to go out there. The Americans call it hunting,” she added. “I look at it this way – the more we get of them the less they get of their own people.”
Fretter was providing aid and support the day a suicide bomber on a bicycle killed four Canadian soldiers. It was her first time dealing with mass casualties.
“They’re killing their own people. I mean there was two little girls that got blown up for no apparent reason other than the fact they want to hurt us and that is wrong,” she said.
There’s another conundrum facing medical staff working in “kill zones” like the one in Panjwaii district, west of Kandahar Air Field. It involves having to give medical attention to the enemy in some cases.
Fretter has treated her share of enemy combatants, but she said it’s not something she likes doing.
“It’s just the fact we know these are the people who are the ones killing you off. We treat them because we have to but there’s not one person who will say that they want to.”
The only time Fretter has been injured was when she was taking care of a soldier from the Afghan National Army who had been injured in by an improvised explosive device, or IED. His unit was ambushed shortly after.
“He started having seizures and he started beating the living crap out of me. I went to give him some morphine and the auto injector was loaded backwards so the needle went right through my finger and he has just vomited blood all over my hands,” she said.
“It was a needle prick so I got evacuated 24 hours later and started some HIV treatment but it came back and was negative so that’s all that counts.”
Fretter spent some time visiting with fellow medic Pte. Melissa Wiseman of Clarenville, N.L. on the brief stopover at the camp. Wiseman, who turns 26 on Sunday, hasn’t seen the same sort of action has her colleague.
“We haven’t had any Canadian casualties – only civilian casualties,” Wiseman said. “It’s kind of a rush when it happens.”
Recalling the major anti-Taliban offensive Canadian troops launched in September, she added: “We were out on (Operation) Medusa and we were there for all of it but with the Bison (troop carrier) you’re kind of out of it behind the front line. You kind of hear it all but that’s about all.”
As for treating the enemies for wounds – Wiseman said it’s just something you have to do.
“We had one. But when it came back he was just a civilian fighter so I guess he wasn’t Taliban. But you do what you can. They’re still people and you still have to help them even if they’re Taliban,” she added.
© The Canadian Press, 2006