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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Monday, January 24, 2005

Yet again, failing to "get it"

posted by Jazz at 1/24/2005 07:39:00 AM

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This story came out yesterday and it wouldn't have popped up high enough on the radar for me to blog about had the response from the right wing not been so completely out of touch and, frankly, dangerous. It all began with this article by Jackie Spinner in the wapo. It deals with yet another Iraqi who formerly was supportive, or at the very least tolerant, of the American occupation, but now views us as evil.
The day after the soldiers came, Imaad ordered his mother to go through her refrigerator and pantry and throw out all the cheese that had been made outside Iraq. He went around and collected any images of Westerners in the house, threw them in a pile and burned them until they were floating bits of ash. He struck his mother repeatedly and forbade her to watch foreign news or movie channels on their new television.

The Americans were "the devil," Imaad ranted.

What caused this reaction?
On the night of Jan. 5, Imaad and his mother, Um Imaad -- both of whom declined to give their full names for fear of retribution -- were watching a movie in the living room. As in most other parts of the capital for the past two months, their Adhimiya neighborhood has electricity about two hours a day....

Imaad said they were startled by a loud banging at the door. He went quickly to open it. When he did, Imaad said, there were about a dozen U.S. soldiers standing with their guns pointed at his head.

Imaad and his mother said the soldiers rushed in, ordering them to sit together while they searched the house. "You look poor," Imaad recalled one of the soldiers saying. "Why?"

Imaad answered in English: "I have not been able to find a job, although I'm a graduate of the College of Arts." His heart was pounding, Imaad said. His mother, a chatty widow who adores her son, sat next to him, shaking.

The soldiers went to search his bedroom. He heard laughing, and then they called for him, he said. Imaad went to his room and saw that the soldiers had found several magazines he kept hidden from his mother. They had pictures of girls in swimsuits and erotic poses. Imaad said the soldiers spread the magazines on his bed and put his Koran in the middle.

"This is a good match," Imaad said one of the soldiers told him.

"It was a nightmare," he said. "I will never forget those bad soldiers when they put the Koran among the magazines."

The man in question obviously has some problems if he routinely slaps his own mother, but beyond that his only apparent crime was having some magazines with pictures of "Girls in swimsuits and erotic poses." It doesn't sound like we're exactly talking about Hustler here. In fact, that could easily be a description of Sports Illustrated. The content of the magazines, however is not the issue here.

The real question raised in the article is the shocking display of a lack of cultural sensitivity on the part of the "liberators" in Baghdad. What we seem to be failing to impart to the troops, (and the right wing bloggers feed on this like carrion hounds) is that you don't defeat an "insurgency" by continually alienating the people you are supposedly "liberating." If you really want to continue to believe that the resistance in Iraq is just a handful of "dead enders and Saddam loyalists" then you should have no trouble getting the other tens of millions of Iraqis to bring out those baskets of rose petals which you expected to have thrown in your path as you marched through the streets. Actions like this, however, are exactly how you feed the resistance and assure your own defeat.

The Bush bobbleheads, however, display their usual lack of perspicacity and attempt to answer by attacking the messenger (the wapo author) and blaming the Iraqi man in the story. The charge is led by Tim Blair, who completely re-writes the article, adding in "humorous" exclamations to try to turn it into some sort of farcical high drama in a desperate attempt to make the soldiers look better.

Power Loons' own Hind Rocket immediately jumps in and asks, "Is this the best they can come up with?" Remember that this is the same "Bush can do no wrong" blog who wrote off the shooting of that one wounded Iraqi in the mosque with a complete "merde se produit" attitude, saying simply that such things happen in war. It's not surprise that he would think this is a non-story, but it's still a disgusting attitude.

Ed Driscoll apparently can't be bothered to come up with any sort of intelligent attack on the article and simply laughs, providing links to other rightwingnuts. Such a funny story, wasn't it Ed? Isn't abusing people who don't look like "us" the best fun ever?

One of the most disappointing responses came from the normally excellent (or at least lucid) Jeff Jarvis, who acts as if Blair's fisking is the actual report... not the original story. Jarvis has become more and more tiresome of late, taking his normally wonderful blogging and sprinkling it with a heavy coating of hawkish, pro-invasion rhetoric.

If any of them want to attack the author's credibility and challenge the story, then do so. How many times have we heard these same right wing sources telling other writers to "show the proof." Spinner provides both sides of the story, including comments from multiple spokesmen for the Army. These rightie bloggers do not provide any backup for questioning the validity of the story... they seek to only weaken its credibility with innuendo. The dismissive attitude towards the behavior of the soldiers, "if it even happened" is despicable.

Mahablog provides the mot juste, saying, "I don't see the humor." Thank you. I'm glad I'm not the only one.