It’s mothers day again, America, 2010. The frenzy for fragrance-free flowers will make for a hectic Sunday morning. Everyone will be a feminist for the day. Mothers will lie in bed and watch the Sunday morning talk shows while fathers juggle kids and kitchens. The TV hosts will convey child-like heart warming messages of love to their mothers followed by mind chilling warnings of terrorists plots threatening to destroy the American way of life; The narratives will be conveniently juxtaposed. Americans will be assured of their essential goodness as the cold and evil nature of the terrorist is described in painstaking detail.
Of course terrorist don’t celebrate mothers day because “others” have no mothers. Where is the mother of Faisal Shazhad? Where is the mother of his children? We will never see or hear from them. They must be kept invisible less we get the impression that he may actually be a human being, birthed by a female of our very own species.
Likewise the American media will never show the images of Aafia Siddiqui’s mother crying as she recalls the last day she saw her daughter. They will never show the images of the children who were deprived of their mother for seven long years. And, we will never be allowed to hear from the mother herself, to explain why she could not recognize her own son.
Motherhood is indeed problematic for the War on Terror. Aafia Siddiqui was completely stripped of her motherhood during her early depiction as Al Qaeda’s number three. When news finally begin to emerge not only of her disappearance but that of her three small children she was suddenly recast from the evil scientist to “terror mom” whose job now was to “have lots of babies” and “raise lots of little jihadis”.
I have no doubt that many would argue; what about the terrorists attempts to take innocent lives depriving our mothers of their children and our children of their mothers? But all the more reason to hear from the mothers of alleged terrorists. Perhaps they can spare us the endless speculation on how and why their kids became terrorists. After all, they raised them?
It’s not just the mother’s of alleged terrorists who disappear, but all the mothers who are victims of the War on Terror often described as Wars of terror. Never in the American media does one see or hear the mothers of children killed or wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Never does one see or hear mothers of any of the U.S. soldiers killed or wounded. The only American mother who tries with monumental will to overcome this silencing, Cindy Sheehan, is marginalized by the mainstream media, as a bereft nut.
And when news of children being hurt or killed does inadvertently makes it’s way to the American media it is again blamed on the cold-hearted terrorists for “using their children as human shields”. In fact U.S. soldiers were shown on a recently leaked video indiscriminately firing on a van filled with unarmed civilians including several children. When the soldiers who were shooting realized that the children had been hit they laughed about it and said “well its their fault for bringing their kids into a battle”.
But this Mother’s Day, 9 years into the War on Terror, is the day to remember all those mothers who have been disappeared. It is also the time to demand to know the whereabouts of the latest mother to disappear the mother of Faisal Shazad’s two children, Huma Mian. Given the allegations of both the ISI as well as CIA’s involvement in the abduction of Aafia Siddiqui and her children; given the U.S. DOD’s own internal reports admitting its willingness to use family members including children in the interrogation of terror suspects; it is urgent that the public, Human Rights Watch, The Red Cross, and Amnesty International verify that Huma Mian and her children are safe and protected.
Motherhood is more than just problematic for the War on terror, it is fundamentally irreconcilable with it. You cannot celebrate mothers day if you tolerate war. Motherhood is about giving life, and war is about taking life.