Who Cares About Iraq?

Can you tell me how many people were killed in Iraq yesterday? Well unless you happen to be one of the few people reading foreign media or alternative media, probably not. According to Iraq Body Count, the number is 24. And that means that 546 civilians have been killed in the month of June. But let’s not dwell on the statistics. My real question is this: who cares about Iraq?

I’m part of the generation that were probably too young to understand what was happening when we originally invaded. I was twelve years old on March 20th, 2003 and I vividly remember watching the green streaks on the television as they destroyed Baghdad. And I didn’t understand.

And this is what my generation knows of Iraq. We heard the names of Ali Sistani and Muqtada al-Sadr. We heard about Saddam Hussein and WMDs. Something about 9/11 and Osama bin Laden. Sunnis and Shiites?

The War on Terror was something that was (and still is) intangible, yet somehow immediate. And maybe I can only speak for myself, but I certainly didn’t grasp the reality of the situation.

Today, 10 years later, I still only have a tenuous understanding of what took place and what is taking place in Iraq, but one thing I’ve noticed is that others in my generation tend to ignore what happened. Somehow it’s been erased by Obama’s presidency. We don’t have to worry about Iraq anymore, because we voted for someone who was “against” the war. We don’t have to care...

Think about it:

Do you know who the president of Iraq is?

What about the prime minister?

Do you know Iraq’s relationship to surrounding countries (Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iran, Kuwait, Syria)?

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Are you a Shiite? Because when I saw you, I said to myself, “She aight”.

It’s in one of the most important places in the world and it’s as if we’ve simply washed our hands of knowing about it. I’m not interested in making you feel bad, I’m interested in sparking a discussion. I’m interested in making you care. I’m interested in making sure that, together, we remain informed and engaged about potentially the most important area of the world.

With headlines about China’s new investments in Iraq, as well as the countless civilians killed each year, the situation in Mesopotamia in inextricably linked to U.S. foreign policy. The civil war in Syria has led to a surge in sectarian divisions throughout Iraq. And power dynamics throughout the Middle East are shifting dramatically with the Arab Spring, the ongoing uprisings in Bahrain, and crippling sanctions against Iran.

So who cares about Iraq?

It doesn’t seem like many people from my generation do, but hopefully someday that will change.

BONUS:

Dick Cheney in 1994 say that occupying Iraq isn’t a great idea:

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“We’ll Have Big Words”: Chomsky and Žižek

Noam Chomsky’s criticism of theory:

Slavoj Žižek’s defense of theory:

Edit: If you want a good laugh, turn on the Automatic Captions for those videos and see how YouTube interprets them.

Highlights:

Chomsky: “so I had to fear the military and in the humanities snow larry criticism that apology and so on there’s a feel cold fury”

Žižek: “goolsbee is not what some people think from crazy exercising often groups and then you can adopt in a restricted area in Cuba”

On My Privilege (Part 1)

According to family lore, I am (on my maternal side) a direct descendant of Thomas Rogers, a signatory of the Mayflower Compact. This means that my family of European origin has been here since November 11th, 1620. On my paternal side, my great-great grandparents arrived from Skulsk, Poland in 1911 in order to chase the immigrant’s dream of a United States paved with opportunities. The history of my family is indelibly linked with the history of white privilege in this country.

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Thank God there are no Polaks on this continent!

This is central to understanding my own perspective on the world. Although I was raised without high class privilege, I have (and will) always invariably remain ensnared in the social hierarchy through my white, heterosexual, male privilege. And, let’s be honest, even in lacking the middle class credentials in the United States, being “poor” here hardly means much. Check for yourself!

When my family came over on the Mayflower, they set out on consolidating power in New England and expanding colonial power over the indigenous peoples. Power was not gifted to them, nor was it earned. It was captured in the process of colonialism, by way of broken treaties and agreements with the Indians.

Throughout the next 250 years, members of my family were never enslaved, discriminated against on the basis of race, nor ever considered to be less than a human being. This is the privilege of skin pigmentation. This is the privilege of social constructions.

Similarly, when my Polish ancestors traveled here in 1911, they were immediately afforded the ability to utilize white privilege. They faced no discrimination due to Jim Crow and, honestly, faced minimal discrimination for their Catholic and Eastern European identities. They lived in Northwest Indiana, which at that time was predominantly Polish and Irish, and they got along without issues. They were able to buy and lease property. Many of my family members didn’t even bother to learn English, instead forcing others (including their black and Irish tenants) to speak to them in Polish.

This is my genealogical white privilege.