THE PUZZLING THING about Jordan’s public adoration of Saddam Hussein is how people were willing to ignore his blood-drenched reputation. Arabs knew what was going on. They had heard of the lengths Saddam went to in order to eliminate challengers to the supremacy of his Ba’ath Party. The most authoritative account comes from Samir al-Khalil, an Iraqi exile who wrote a book called Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq. In the “chamber of horrors that is Iraq,” al-Khalil describes how Saddam’s security forces gouged out the eyes of children front of their parents in order to force confessions. And the same grisly instruments of torture left behind by Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait have reportedly been used inside Iraq for years. These include electric wires attached to pincers, metal spikes for prisoners to sit on, and a machine to chop off fingers. Al-Khalil points out the silence of the Arab intelligentsia throughout the region on Hussein’s atrocities. \(Anti-war critics in this country remind that the U.S. State Department, too, supported Saddam during the 8year Iran z educated Roman Catholic priest, who is a COURTESY JOHN BURNETT Another Jordaninan Postcard native Jordanian, told me sincerely, “He [Saddam] only eliminated those he had to to preserve his government. Every ruler must deal harshly with spies.” Most Arabs I spoke with in Jordan during the war were willing to suspend all conven tional judgments of Saddam as soon as the allied bombs began to fall on Iraq. “I was against him when took Kuwait,” said Shaher Fakri, an Egyptian agronomist. “But now it’s completely different. We are feeling for our brother, Iraq. We speak same language, have same religion. You are American, you feel same with English people.” HE DEPTH OF Jordanians’ solidarity with the Iraqis struck me on Valentine’s Day. A demonstration was in progress in front of the U.S. Embassy in Amman, protesting the allied bombing of a Baghdad bomb shelter that incinerated scores of civilians inside. Demonstrators were hysterical with grief. Black-clad women threw shoes, handfuls of dirt, anything, at the fortress-like embassy. A middle-aged woman walked up to me and shrieked, “You are despised, so just get out of here.” A plainclothes officer hustled me away when the jostling began. Walking back to the hotel, I heard Palestinian students chanting “Saddam” in a hypnotic cadence. As the embattled Saddam Hussein continues to mow down villages full of dissidents to contain a civil war, he may look longingly to the Jordanians, who revere him far more than his countrymen ever will. El believed the losing side’s version have farther go to learn what actually happened. Dialogue Continued from page 2 phy, we run as a “slate.” Nor should anyone apologize for running an aggressive campaign which included the distribution of leaflets promoting the virtues of some of the candidates. Each of the six candidates has a long history of multicultural political activities and collectively we have worked withnumerous and diverse community groups throughout the state. We are politically independent persons. Thus, I strongly protest the intimation that we were Harrington sycophants who ran at his urging, solely to support him in his battle with the state board. Unfortunately, this attempt to instill a broader view of civil liberties and install a more culturally diverse board failed. There was much resentment arising out of the election,. from some of the incumbent local boardmembers, as well as from many of the executive members of the state board. More time was spent infighting than battling our common enemies. Eventually the six newly elected directors resigned, as well as the other minority members of the board. \(The minority member’s resignation came soon after she was told by a member of the executive board: “You must be the representative from the The CTCLU recently held an election to select an entirely new Board of Directors. Apparently there was a struggle to find sufficient volunteers, but eventually a seven person slate was formed and the election of the un-opposed candidates was conducted, this time by mail ballot instead of in-person. The people who ran are dedicated civil libertarians, but unfortunately they are all white. A new executive director has recently been hired. I am hopeful that she will incorporate an expansive view of civil liberties into her list of priorities. If so, a likely result will be a culturally diverse membership in the TCLU. Malcolm Greenstein Austin The Last Laugh In his review of John Silber’s recent book \(TO, Silber “provokes wry laughter when he quotes Edmund Burke: ‘It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free’.” Was it, perhaps, my intemperate mind that led me to think of the pot and the kettle? Daniel Kading Austin Send the FBI after John Sununu As a second generation Arab-American, I appreciate your bringing to the forefront the racist policies of the FBI concerning ArabAmericans in your February 8 “Under Surveillance” article. It is disgusting that the FBI is contacting Arab-Americans “to ‘establish or increase [their] intelligence base’ on ‘Iraqis and persons of Middle Eastern descent,'” and to assess “whether they themselves represent a terrorist threat.” What makes the FBI think that any Arab-American, be they recent immigrant or American born, would have knowledge of terrorist activities? The FBI says they are targeting prominent Arab-Americans. Did they call John Sununu or George Mitchell? The only people I know that the FBI called are people who have been actively involved in organizations such as the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Arab-American Institute, and the National Association of Arab-Americans. These are organizations that support th ebasic tenets of American society and promote political involvement andthe Arab heritage. While your article was very informative and appreciated, it did not draw the obvious conclusion: The FBI has not learned since civil rights days that political activism is not illegal and that racism should not be the basis for investigation. Tina Shaheen Austin Political Innocence Reader Scott Klippel’s political innocence \(see his letter TO, charming and alarming. If Gib Lewis were fellow Texas House members vote for him as speaker? Ah, … to be able to believe again that politicians are honest, sacrificial, caring people who serve in office only to promote a democratic society! Limiting the number of terms they can serve, and making public all the money that comes their wayas elected officials will only begin to put an end to the poor quality of “leaders” we continue to send to Austin and Washington, D.C. Kay Taebel Arlington THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13
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