Warning: This post contains graphic imagery.
When I worked in the mines, I’m ashamed to say that I overheard some very negative and racist conversations from time to time.
One evening as many of us gathered in the motor barn waiting for 3rd shift to start, I heard a fellow maintenance man say, “I think we ought to kill all of the Muslims. They’re all terrorists.” I became more disheartened when several around him where nodding in agreement. I broke from my normal quiet self.
“They are not all terrorists. If we go by that thinking, than we need to kill all Christians because what they’ve done to millions of people over 2000 years in the name of Christ.”
He, being undeterred from his thinking, countered by telling us all about a holiday he “witnessed” in which Muslim men raped young boys, that he had seen them, been around them, and that he knew.
Ignorance, prejudice, bigotry, narrow-minded hatred.
Unless people have lived in many of these “terrorist” countries, all of their knowledge comes from what they’ve heard or seen on television. Some may have a friend who is a veteran which would cause them to think, “What they are telling me is accurate,” but then you have to ask yourself, under what circumstances did these veterans witness these people, in a time of peace or a time of war? Even then, what kind of people did our soldiers most often face? Is it such a far stretch to believe our soldiers have developed a similar perception of people as do police offers who are subjected to seeing only the worst people?
The fact remains that hundreds of thousands of innocent lives were lost. Wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters. There was a tremendous amount of collateral damage to the Afghan and Iraqi people, people who were decent and peaceful. Many were just trying to get by in areas of despotic regimes. But make no mistake, we did not invade to help the people there liberate themselves from such treatment. If that were the case, we’d have done so decades before. No, we saw many of them as terrorists, we saw ourselves as defending ourselves and liberating a people. But that is far from the truth.
As Americans living in perhaps the wealthiest nation in the world, it is hard to place ourselves in the shoes of people living in places like the Middle East.
So let me try to help…
Life is tough under a dictatorship, but you survive and do what you can to eventually overthrow it, but are limited due to the fear for your family’s safety. Then a country who is telling you they are seeking to free you and your people invades. While you are at the market trying to get enough food to survive the shortages to come, a bomb is miscalculated and you hear a tremendous explosion near your home. You run back, arriving to find that your home is destroyed and your entire family was inside. Your wife, your small children, their smiles and laughter–gone forever. At first you are devastated, no, you are more than devastated.
Now close your eyes and imagine losing your entire family in a car accident, your wife and children, or your husband and children. Seriously, stop reading and think about it. Feel that pain of loss.
For countless Iraqi people, it wasn’t just a car wreck. It was a bomb dropped by another country, a shell, or a random spray of machine gun fire at a “terrorist” that went to wide by accident.
A few weeks later you are a shell of a human being. The images you recall of your family and the heart wrenching pain you feel is tearing you apart inside. You have lost weight and you often break down into uncontrollable sobs. You begin hearing about others who have lost as you have.
Months go by; news trickles in. You see and hear of US black ops personnel coming in and shooting at people to protect the rich and affluent business officials rallying to make tremendous financial gains from the invasion. You see Haliburton trucks and thousands of US civilian contractors working in the oilfields or rebuilding for the wealthy proprietors. They build bases and tend to the thousands of US troops. Many of the soldiers are scared young men and women, and many are proud to serve their country and protect their families.
Some, but not all soldiers look down upon you calling you a “Haji.” You even hear the words, “Sand n*****”. Some of them are just barely 20 years old. They are fed by a hatred and the belief that somehow you and your people caused the planes to crash into a building thousands upon thousands of miles away.
You hear about a father who is confused as he drives his car to get help for his family. He is rushing up to a road block to get help as quickly as possible. A scared young solider pulls the trigger on the car speeding towards him. Rapid pops of gunfire. Bullet holes enter the windshield and red stains the back glass. A father is gone, the loving man who was only trying to help his children.
You have nothing left. You had no one to bury, the only pictures of your family remain as images in your mind. You are relying on others for bits of food and you are harassed by ignorant soldiers as you wander around to get them. You hear of people you know who have lost as much as you. You hear they have started picking up guns to take revenge in the name of their loved ones. Friends are detained for questioning, some taken to different places in the world. Your hatred escalates.
You find that the country who invaded was using the removal of your dictator and a search for WMDs as an excuse to get to the country’s oil, a resource that runs their economy and makes them wealthier.
How would you feel?
What if they tables were turned and we were the ones being invaded by a larger, richer country? It’s hard to think about because it will never happen. But just think if it did. If you saw so much death and destruction, how would you feel? A lot of people would probably start cherry picking the scriptures to allow for vengeance. “Eye for an eye” would be underlined in the King James Bible. In fact, some people did underline it after 9/11 as a way of justifying their support to the war.
It’s hard to fathom living such a life, facing such circumstances because the US doesn’t have an invasion threat. We have nuclear weapons, the strongest, most well funded and technologically advanced military in the world. We would never face such a situation, and for that reason, millions of people in this country have never put themselves into the shoes of other people living in different, less fortunate countries, including those living in the Middle East.
The truth is, we didn’t have to go to war. That has been proven and even George W’s brother Jeb said he would not have invaded Iraq. But, they did. And we are not blameless as citizens. It was that war and our compliance and/or support of it, that has caused all of this pain and suffering on both sides.
Terrorists were never a serious threat to our country, and still aren’t. Our infrastructure is weak. It would not take much to cause rolling blackouts or interruptions of water to millions of people in our country and affect our economy in much more negative ways than 9/11 ever did. Why didn’t it happen that way? Why hasn’t it happened still?
But it doesn’t matter. Hundreds of thousands of people are suffering and fleeing the continued violence that we, as a Americans, set into motion. They are people like us with families like our ours, with children they are desperately trying to get away from the dangers of horrible violence-they are just trying to get their loved ones to safety. Unfortunately, this is something that is hard to fathom for many of us because we live in relative safety.
The most heart wrenching part is how we, and people in other wealthy countries are turning refugees away. People are calling them all terrorists, saying that they are threats to our own families. Some even complain and worry about straining our resources when we have stores stocked to the ceiling with food–and and we waste a lot of it.
So before you support the war on terror rhetoric and turn your backs on Syrian refugees, many of whom were Iraqis who fled OUR INVASION OF THEIR COUNTRY TO GET THEIR FAMILIES TO SAFETY, remember who wanted this war, and who profited from this war: military subcontractors, defense contractors, Haliburton, the Bush Family, the Cheney Family, Blackwater. Remember that your want of cheap, easy transportation and cheap goods brought from thousands of miles away on diesel powered freighters, played a part in their suffering.
Remember where you received your information on the war, and where you still receive all you information from: NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX news. Remember that all of them are rich corporations who only want to build their fortunes and their power, and they all work together to protect one another and serve their own interests.
And let us not forget about our own veterans who fought in these wars, who were forced into this mess. They had orders–orders that if not followed would mean prison time or death under the Universal Code of Military Justice. Many are just as much victims who now live with PTSD and mutilated bodies. Some live with guilt for their actions when put into unavoidable situations by their superiors. And the thousands upon thousands of grieving mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, and children who lost their loved ones overseas. The bravery of our soldiers was used and abused. They were made slaves to the puppets; soldiers were told they were defending their country and that they were helping others while being ordered by the politicians who were coerced by defense contractors, large, oil dependent corporations, all seeking to fulfill their own selfish personal interests.
Two wrongs do not make a right. Three wrongs damn sure don’t. Open your hearts and minds and stop believing everything you hear from the people whose lucrative bottom line depends upon you to hearing it.