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Bombing a Myth
Posted: Monday, October 15, 2001

By John Maxwell

IT'S been more or less official -- as official as science ever gets: the family of man is African. Even the most die-hard supporters of the theory that modern human populations arose spontaneously in several different regions of the world have abandoned that theology. The so-called "Multi-regional" theory was used to justify theories of "racial" differences and racial superiority.

The Multi-regionalists were dealt a fatal blow by a study, the results of which were published earlier this year in the magazine Science. A team of geneticists took gene samples from 12,127 men in Asia and Oceania. They examined characteristic DNA "markers" sequences of genetic code, from the Y (male chromosomes) of these modern men, Australians, Chinese, Polynesians, Japanese et al, and discovered that every one of them had a characteristic sequence which could be traced back to African ancestors who lived between 35,000 and 89,000 years ago. The latest research complemented and bolstered an earlier, smaller study, published in the January issue of the Annals of Human Genetics which also pointed to a recent African origin for the Y chromosome in men from Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Americas.

Stanford University molecular biologist Peter Underhill and colleagues analysed 218 markers in 1,062 men from 21 populations in those regions. "They saw the greatest diversity in two distinct and long-separated clusters of Y chromosomes in African men. In contrast, they found that all men outside Africa share the same mutation, called M168, which arose in an African ancestor between 35,000 and 89,000 years ago."

This means that African populations are more genetically diverse than people outside of Africa, suggesting, subversively, that some Africans may be more genetically advanced than everybody else.

The latest studies should put an end to the pseudo-scientific energies which have been expended over five hundred years to prove the superiority of one set of people to another. There is, as far as anyone knows, just one human race.

Racial profiling

In the wake of the WTC/Pentagon atrocity, blacks in the United States have felt a general easing of pressure. The congenital dread felt by most has been replaced, it seems, by a consciousness that now that Middle Eastern people are all "suspect," they provide new targets for the old game of pinning the tail on the donkey. Blacks, even more than whites, are now reportedly in favour of racial profiling to determine who is or is not likely to be carrying a penknife in his pockets and harbouring murderous un-American sentiments.

It is sad that the American society is so divided in normal times, that in times like these, groups of people turn so easily to find others to victimise. (It is also true in China which on Saturday banned all 'Middle-Eastern people', including Israelis, from their aeroplanes).

Many Americans will be cheered by statements such as those made by Mr Donald Rumsfeld, the US secretary of defence: All he wants, he said, is that America should be able to continue to live and behave as it has always done.

Ex-President George H W Bush, cannot see that continuing as a partner in a consulting firm which advises the bin Laden family, may be a serious conflict of interest. But, as Calvin Coolidge said, long ago, "the business of America is business" and what is good for George Bush must be good for America, if I may resurrect the sentiments of Mr Charles Wilson, chairman of General Motors 40 years ago.

Corporate profiling

The European Parliament is now studying a complaint against several US corporations, including Unocal oil and the Halliburton Company, of which, until recently, Mr Dick Cheney, vice-president of the United States, was head.

During Mr Cheney's reign at Halliburton that company was not only in receipt of massive corporate welfare from the United States, it was also the beneficiary of forced labour in the forests of Burma where it was building an oil pipeline. Complaints to the EU parliament and to the International Labour Organisation suggest that Halliburton and Unocal must have been party to the brutalisation, murder and rape, which guaranteed their contracts and their profits in Burma.

Unfortunately, when ordinary Americans ask themselves why the US is so hated abroad, they lack the background knowledge of the brutal tactics of their government and their corporations in foreign countries over the years. The US press is increasingly owned by the largest corporations whose interests include forced labour, sweated labour and all kinds of sharp practice in foreign countries, little of which is ever reported in the United States.

It should therefore come as no surprise that the major American television networks tamely agreed to a US government request to censor the words of Osama bin Laden on the somewhat imaginative theory that he may be encoding terrorist instructions in his videos. The US had already tried to get the Arabic counterpart of CNN, the Al Jazeera network of Qatar, to censor bin Laden. They failed.

The problem is that as many people expected, the US is losing the propaganda war. It is almost impossible not to lose a propaganda war against an abstraction. Terrorism may, in the American view, be incarnated in Mr bin Laden, but getting rid of him will not end terrorism.

It must be becoming obvious to the major US planners that smart bombs on an empty landscape don't suggest a real war against anyone or anything. Besides which, as the stories of the deprivation and human misery of Afghanistan filter out, the whole exercise looks a little too much like bullying. Iraq was almost a credible antagonist, with tanks and SCUD missiles, while poison gas was always a danger. The Afghans have a few portable Stinger missiles and some Kalashnikov rifles, hardly likely to be effective against high flying bombers.

Bombing a myth

Having made Mr bin Laden into a myth, the warriors for freedom will find it very difficult to confine the myth even if they capture the man. In a way, to the Muslims of the world, it now hardly matters whether bin Laden is captured or killed. He is already up there with Saladin and nothing anyone can now do can unravel the effect of the millions of words spent by the Americans in making him into a kind of supernatural bogeyman.

Trying to "get" bin Laden, as the FBI got Al Capone, is impossible, and anyway, is sure to lead to further terrorist attacks. As I said in my first column on this subject, terrorists and/or "freedom fighters" do not need to be led, if they are sufficiently imbued with a righteous sense of injustice and grievance. It is, after all, perfectly possible that the WTC terrorists were a self-contained group, determined to do their bit for Allah and the greater glory of Islam. Did they really need a bin Laden?

The grievance and bitterness were there before bin Laden and will survive him. As long as the causes for this bitterness and grievance persist, so long will the destructive anger and the horrific self-sacrifices continue.

Fighting "terrorism" is fighting a symptom. The disease will continue as long as Corporate America continues to push the American state in the furtherance of its own, hidden agenda while concealing its true nature from its own people.

According to Greek mythology, the Hydra was a ferocious monster -- a beast three times as tall as a man, with the body of a hound and nine snakelike heads. So hideous was the Hydra that most people died of fright at the mere sight of it. Those who didn't die of fright were soon poisoned by its breath. Hercules, sentenced to seven labours to expiate his crimes, was given, as his second labour, the killing of the monster, a thing so horrific that it seemed to have been made of all the foulest thoughts conceived since time began. When Hercules confronted the Hydra, he discovered that every time he cut off one of its heads, two grew in its place. Hercules' nephew, Iolaus, had the bright idea of burning the stumps as Hercules chopped off each head. Thus cauterised, the stumps could not regenerate. The last head of the monster was, however, immortal, so when Hercules cut off that one, he buried it beneath a huge rock from which it could never escape.

Until now

The demonification of bin Laden is beginning to resemble some of the Hydra's publicity material. In the United States, impressionable people, brought up on a diet of horror movies and video games, have been ready to see the head of Satan in the smoke from the WTC towers. They will probably be having nightmares about bin Laden for years after he is dead and gone.

If terrorism is the modern Hydra, its immortal head may very well be the injustice from which most of the world suffers. It can't be buried under a rock -- even though bin Laden himself might very well be if an American bomb hits the right cave in Afghanistan.

But bombs can destroy neither myths nor injustice.

Copyright 2001 John Maxwell

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