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Her Iraqi father is her hero.


Let's Hear It For The Heroes
April 10, 2003 April 10, 2003 thepeoplesvoice.org

by Keetjie Ramo

The sun hadn't set on 9-11 before the hapless workers who died at the World Trade Center-as well as their would-be rescuers-were being hailed as heroes. The New York Times and The Chicago Tribune both published photos and mini-profiles of these "heroes" every day for months until each hero had been honored in print with the loving recollections of friends and family members.

Now, in the third week of the War Against Iraq, I have yet to see a tribute to the Iraqi "heroes" of this war in the mainstream press. By heroes, I mean the ordinary people of Iraq whose lives have been decimated by war.  As I write this on the first few days of coalition troops' entry into Baghdad, credible tallies of civilian casualties estimate the numbers of dead at over 1050. Hospitals cannot accommodate the scores of wounded and dismembered. But this isn't likely to be front page news in most of our hometown newspapers.

It isn't as if no one knows about these heroes-the foreign press and the Internet are replete with the images of dead and gravely injured and maimed Iraqi men, women, and especially, children. But on the other hand, most of these heroes were too poor to have made much of a mark, except as fodder for the foreign and alternative press. As far as the mainstream America media are concerned, mangled corpses and bloody children don't make for good ratings.

Instead of civilian casualties, the TV media, for example, have focused on the spectacular light shows over Baghdad and the interviews with the families of dead and missing soldiers. ("How did you feel, Mr. or Mrs. ___, when you first learned that your son/daughter was missing in action?") And thanks to television, I know more about MRE's (meals-ready-to-eat) than I do about the lives and deaths of Iraqi villagers and inner city dwellers.

If they haven't ignored them altogether, most reporters who are embedded with the troops certainly haven't emphasized the civilian casualties. As for reporting on the identities of the Iraqi victims, well, the press has more important things to do. Meanwhile, the Iraqi and Bush administrations blame each other for the mayhem. So much for the heroes.

Speaking of the foreign press, most of the Arab media have featured countless graphic images of dead and gravely injured civilians as well as military, directly or by inference portraying the war as a crusade by the Anglo world against Islam. According to The New York Times, moderate Arabs are alarmed at the potentially catastrophic effect of this slant on the stability of the region and the world. Even now, young men from all over the Muslim world are flocking to Iraq, volunteering not just as fighters, but also as suicide bombers in what they consider to be a jihad.

That brings me to the other heroes-the common soldiers who (in the words of one disgusted GI) "did not come over here to kill women and children." Whose hearts do not go out to these young "heroes?" For many, soldiering was the only paying job available in this increasingly unforgiving economy. For others, like Jessica Lynch, the military offered the prospect of a college education. Incredibly and against all reason, even as rage increases in the Arab world, many GI's believe that this war is necessary to prevent another 9-11.

Struggling to do what is right for their country, first they increasingly had to choose between killing civilians who might be soldiers or terrorists in disguise, and risking their own lives and those of their comrades. In the past few days, however, American strikes have become less "surgical," and burgeoning civilian casualties are being brushed off as collateral damage. (One correspondent mentioned yesterday that "fewer than a dozen" civilians died when bunker busters were dropped on an upscale neighborhood in yet another assassination attempt on Saddam and his sons. As if fewer than a dozen deaths were acceptable.) How will these GI's deal with the memories and images of these choices and rationalizations when they return home?

Sadly, both the Arab press and the GI's have it wrong. This war is not about Islam and it is not about ending terrorism. If you go beyond the administration's propaganda to information that is readily available from alternative sources, the subject of this war is clear: it is about making the world more profitable for the latter day American robber barons and massive conglomerates that make up the bulk of the Bush Administration's paying constituency. And it is about furthering the world domination ambitions of the "Project for the New American Century" extremists who comprise President Bush's inner circle. For these ignoble ends, these heroes-our innocent children and grandchildren-are, in spite of themselves, killing innocent Iraqi families.

May God-or Allah, as He is also known-save us all.

Keetjie Ramo 04/09/2003

Copyright 2003 All rights reserved by Keetjie Ramo



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