Actually, I don't mean to attack Darryl, who very likely had good intentions of honoring the sacrifices made by our soldiers in times of war when he recorded his latest single "I Just Came Back (From a War)." Nor am I really attacking the song itself--instead, I am concerned with the unexamined ideas behind the song. The chorus in particular is very upsetting to me:
"...I just came back from a place where they hated me
and everything I stand for
A land where our brothers are dying for others
who don't even care anymore."
I am certain that there are many American soldiers in Iraq who really do feel hated and feel that they are risking (and, frighteningly often, losing) their lives for people who don't care. I am sure, too, that the hatred our soldiers feel from Iraqis in general is very real and not imagined--the Iraqis "not caring" is a whole other matter, but we'll get to that in a moment.
Let's consider the hatred first. Let's ask ourselves why our soldiers are so hated in Iraq. Let's do something those in secure government offices in peaceful neighborhoods seem incapable of or unwilling to do. Let's put ourselves in the Iraqis' position.
How would we feel about an uninvited foreign military crashing through our borders, killing (if not indiscriminately than not quite discriminatingly enough) our friends and family members, toppling our government with no satisfactory, workable plan for replacing that government. (Listen, no one thinks Sadaam was a nice guy (for example, I wouldn't want to have a beer with him), but there is ample evidence that the quality of life in Iraq--especially in its cities--has dropped drastically since the U.S. forces arrived.)
How would we feel hearing the government behind that invading force repeatedly justify the violence and destruction with ever more transparent lies? Wouldn't hate be a mild word for what we would feel toward those soldiers--the only representatives of that government with whom we would ever be face-to-face?
And what is it that our soldiers "stand for" that Iraqis hate so much? Is it our freedom, our liberty, that they hate--as this song seems to imply and as our national leaders have said over and over again? Does that make even the remotest bit of sense?
If it makes sense to you, my apologies, but to me it sounds like empty-headed paranoia at best and a hollow excuse for reprehensible behavior at worst. Maybe the Iraqis actually hate us for something the vast majority of Americans never meant to stand for--opportunistic bullying? Intolerance in the world arena? Condescending and incompetent (not to mention violent and destructive) foreign policy?
As for the Iraqis "not caring" anymore...um, I just don't see any truth in that idea at all. What I see in that kind of thinking is an effort to dehumanize Iraqis, to pretend that they are somehow less fearful or desperate than we would be in their situations. It shows a lack of compassion and inability to empathize that's not only cold-hearted and dysfunctional, but outright dangerous in the world today.
So, now, I'll stumble down off the soapbox before Rummy comes and kicks me off--I hear he's gonna have some free time on his hands.
*Previous attacks on Darryl, among others, can be found here.
10 hours ago