Her Iraqi father is her hero.
Let's Hear It For The Heroes
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
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
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
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