FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Breathless

Photo Source Kaitlynn Hendricks | CC BY 2.0

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi repeatedly told his killers “I can’t breathe” during his final moments in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, CNN reported Monday.

As people set upon Khashoggi, he started fighting for air, repeating, “I can’t breathe” at least three times.

As aficionados of human suffering may recall, these were precisely the same final words uttered by Eric Garner on July 17, 2014 on Staten Island when New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a chokehold. Police accosted Garner for allegedly selling cigarettes without a tax stamp and pulled him down to the sidewalk.

While four other officers restrained him and Pantaleo pushed his face into the sidewalk, Garner repeated “I can’t breathe” eleven times before losing consciousness. Neither the officers nor the emergency medical technicians they called performed CPR on Garner, who was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide, but a grand jury opted not to indict Pantaleo. Only the man who took a video of the incident was jailed. A public outcry and various demonstrations protesting police brutality to Garner caused the City of New York to settle out of court with Garner’s family for $5.9 million.

How many others have uttered those same last words with no one to remember them? Perhaps children crushed under remains of buildings destroyed with U.S. weapons in Iraq or Afghanistan or Syria or Yemen?

During the recording of Khashoggi’s murder, one of the voices was identified in the transcript by Turkish authorities as Dr Salah al-Tubaigy, a forensic expert who specialises in post mortem examination.

Tubaigy tells others to put in earphones or listen to music, as he is doing, the CNN source said.

The transcript then used singular words to describe the noises, including “scream”, “gasping”, “saw”, and “cutting”.

Trump has refused to listen to the Turkish Tapes of the gruesome Khashoggi murder. We thought it was because he was squeamish. Or didn’t want to admit to having heard the “smocking gun” of MBS complicity. But the reason may turn out to be something quite different.

He might be worried about enjoying those gruesome goings-on a little too much, perhaps imagining he was overhearing the final fate of Michael Cohen or Robert Mueller or Jeff Sessions dying at his direction. Oh, for absolute power over his enemies – like MBS or Putin or even Erdogan himself. Sweeney Trump!

All the while listening to the driving beat of Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Going to Take It,” though the group forbade Trump from using that anthem at his rallies. All the more delicious to violate one more taboo! Or maybe tapping his toes to the Rolling Stones singing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” knowing it was drowning out the screams of Hillary Clinton or Omarosa Manigault or Michael Avenatti perishing at his whim, under his downward pointing thumb.

But those might become the final words of many more of us, smothering under Republican dirty tricks like gerrymanders and voter suppression tactics and last-minute subversion of the popular will by rogue legislators hobbling the powers of incoming Democratic governors, as in Wisconsin. Or more literally, by Mitch McConnell’s Congress cutting off medical care for millions who may be unable to inhale another gulp of oxygen. Or the desecration of public lands by Trump pals mining coal or fracking shale for oil, fouling our atmosphere.

“I can’t breathe” is the perfect t-shirt or gimme cap retort to MAGA, the last gasp of a nation striving to regain its integrity in the face of a president and a party that has none. And we don’t need to wait until 2020 to shout it out.

 

More articles by:

James McEnteer’s most recent book is Acting Like It Matters: John Malpede and the Los Angeles Poverty DepartmentHe lives in Quito, Ecuador.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
November 14, 2019
Laura Carlsen
Mexico’s LeBaron Massacre and the War That Will Not Cease
Joe Emersberger
Oppose the Military Coup in Bolivia. Spare Us Your “Critiques”
Ron Jacobs
Trump’s Drug Deal Goes to Congress: Impeachment, Day One
Paul Edwards
Peak Hubris
Tamara Pearson
US and Corporations Key Factors Behind Most Violent Year Yet in Mexico
Jonah Raskin
Love and Death in the Age of Revolution
Robert Hunziker
Climate Confusion, Angst, and Sleeplessness
W. T. Whitney
To Confront Climate Change Humanity Needs Socialism
John Feffer
Examining Trump World’s Fantastic Claims About Ukraine
Nicky Reid
“What About the Children?” Youth Rights Before Parental Police States
Binoy Kampmark
Incinerating Logic: Bush Fires and Climate Change
John Horning
The Joshua Tree is Us
Andrew Stewart
Noel Ignatiev and the Great Divide
Cesar Chelala
Soap Operas as Teaching Tools
Chelli Stanley
In O’odham Land
November 13, 2019
Vijay Prashad
After Evo, the Lithium Question Looms Large in Bolivia
Charles Pierson
How Not to End a Forever War
Kenneth Surin
“We’ll See You on the Barricades”: Bojo Johnson’s Poundshop Churchill Imitation
Nick Alexandrov
Murder Like It’s 1495: U.S.-Backed Counterinsurgency in the Philippines
George Ochenski
Montana’s Radioactive Waste Legacy
Brian Terrell
A Doubtful Proposition: a Reflection on the Trial of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7
Nick Pemberton
Assange, Zuckerberg and Free Speech
James Bovard
The “Officer Friendly” Police Fantasy
Dean Baker
The Logic of Medical Co-Payments
Jeff Mackler
Chicago Teachers Divided Over Strike Settlement
Binoy Kampmark
The ISC Report: Russian Connections in Albion?
Norman Solomon
Biden and Bloomberg Want Uncle Sam to Defer to Uncle Scrooge
Jesse Jackson
Risking Lives in Endless Wars is Morally Wrong and a Strategic Failure
Manuel García, Jr.
Criminalated Warmongers
November 12, 2019
Nino Pagliccia
Bolivia and Venezuela: Two Countries, But Same Hybrid War
Patrick Cockburn
How Iran-Backed Forces Are Taking Over Iraq
Jonathan Cook
Israel is Silencing the Last Voices Trying to Stop Abuses Against Palestinians
Jim Kavanagh
Trump’s Syrian See-Saw: From Pullout to Pillage
Susan Babbitt
Fidel, Three Years Later
Dean Baker
A Bold Plan to Strengthen and Improve Social Security is What America Needs
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Trump’s Crime Against Humanity
Victor Grossman
The Wall and General Pyrrhus
Yoko Liriano
De Facto Martial Law in the Philippines
Ana Paula Vargas – Vijay Prashad
Lula is Free: Can Socialism Be Restored?
Thomas Knapp
Explainer: No, House Democrats Aren’t Violating Trump’s Rights
Wim Laven
Serve With Honor, Honor Those Who Serve; or Support Trump?
Colin Todhunter
Agrarian Crisis and Malnutrition: GM Agriculture Is Not the Answer
Binoy Kampmark
Walls in the Head: “Ostalgia” and the Berlin Wall Three Decades Later
Akio Tanaka
Response to Pete Dolack Articles on WBAI and Pacifica
Nyla Ali Khan
Bigotry and Ideology in India and Kashmir: the Legacy of the Babri Masjid Mosque
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail