Bringing the War to your Laptop

“I’m female, Iraqi and 24. I survived the war. That’s all you need to know. It’s all that matters these days anyway.”

Thus begins the blog of Riverbend, a compelling first person account of being in Iraq during the American Occupation. She has an amazing voice, poignant, often angry, always worth reading.

It often seems like talk about Iraq in the US is shaped entirely by what the person wants to believe. Whether a surge, for example, is failing or succeeding seems predicated on whether the person doing the telling thinks surges are a good idea or not and not on anything objectively measurable. One side talks about building schools, the other about exploding car bombs. Iraqis are freer. Iraqis are worse off. They love us. They hate us.

And of course, in our rush to talk for the Iraqi people, we’re not talking to them, and worse yet, we’re not listening to them. Which, considering that at least some of what we’re doing is supposed to be for their benefit (after it became clear that there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction to blame the invasion on, anyway) is all sorts of Colonialism.

It is a wonderful thing, to be able to go online and gain perspectives from those actually being affected by American military actions abroad instead of taking the government’s or the media’s word for it.

It is a depressing thing, to hear about the harm American actions are causing.

Another highly recommended blog for news from a female Muslim perspective is Muslimah Media Watch. It does a great job of dissecting the fetishization/demonization of the hijab and burqa and the problems with attitudes towards Muslim women, especially the view that they are all in need of “saving” from Muslim men, while still being willing to confront anti-women attitudes within the Muslim world. Check them out the next time you hear about an “honour killing” on the news.


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