Under the rule of Saddam Hussein, the prison of Abu Ghraib (the Father of the Raven) was a place of ill omen, notorious for horrific suffering and torture and mass executions. After the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. military made Abu Ghraib one of the major detention centers for Iraqis suspected of sympathizing with the resistance. The revelations since April 2004 of systematic torture and sexual humiliation of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib have not easily been assimilated into the mythology of the U.S. "war on terror." The Language of Empire focuses on the response to these revelations in the U.S. media, in congress, and in the larger context of U.S. global politics and ideology. Its focus on the media is a prelude to showing how the language of multiculturalism, humanitarianism, and even feminism have been hijacked in the cause of an illegal and brutal imperialist war. The media have colluded with the Bush administration in manipulating images of the U.S. occupation of Iraq in such a way as to present it as a clash between civilization and barbarism, and in selectively using legal and procedural issues to distract from the basic criminality of the invasion itself. The circuitous logic through which U.S. imperialism presents itself as a defender of legality and democracy is exposed for all to see in this important and timely work.
Lila Rajiva has taught music at the Peabody Preparatory Institute in Baltimore and English and politics at the University of Maryland and Towson University. Her writings on politics and the media have been published on www.dissidentvoice.org and other websites.