mind the gap: on F9/11, the soldier, and open minds

Well, I found myself commenting on F9/11 on a blog without having seen the film. Now I've seen it and I can speak in turn. I didn't plan on seeing it because I thought it would just piss me off. But since I made that comment, I felt I should see it. so, yeah...here are a few of my thoughts about it and some other tangents.

I felt it was masterfully crafted to impact an American audience. I'm sure that this film has caused major concern/excitement, even though republican strategists won't admit to this and the democratic contender wishes to distance himself from Moore while reaping the benefits of this version of events. I thought the film would disturb me much more than it did. Surprisingly enough to me, I was most infuriated when near the end of the film Moore highlights how it's a cruel irony that the people that pay most for America's mistakes are those that are the poorest, least privileged, and least educated members of American society.

As for the amount of focus put on Saudi Arabia: I expected much more after reading a sleuth of reviews. And I thought it wasn't excessive at all considering how little most Americans know about the relationships and ties that exist between the Bush and Saudi Royal family (and even the connection with the bin Laden family). The gap must be made up for somehow. Being excessive in this case, as some see it, does not bother me at all. And I think when a conflict of interest so deep puts so many people (namely the sons and daughters of America and Iraq) in harms way for a cause that allows those interests to strengthen, there is a reason to allow as many facts to come to life on a screen in this manner. It is an exquisite execution of one's first amendment rights. And Moore is talented for so many reasons. He asks many of the right questions at the right time. He offers facts that are seldom reported. He courageously makes claims that many of the spineless media were and still are unwilling to make. He highlights the human story and shows the consequences of the war, which is not a common and uncensored concern in the mainstream media or for the current administration.

Most importantly, the amount of dialogue between family and friends that this film will create is encouraging. I'm not aware of any other film that accomplishes such a feat at this important time. So I congratulate Mr. Moore for getting people to talk about the war at the dinner table if nothing else.

Conversely, I see how many people across the political and cultural spectrum can be offended by the tact and tone of the film. First, the Iraqi in me tells me that this is only a sliver of reality. But a sliver is better than nothing at all. It also tells me that people were not all that smiley as Moore depicts Iraqis as being before the war took place. And it's important to note this. I saw the now infamous "kite flying" scene. The kid flying the kite was not so much offensive as were all the expressions, none which were negative. But this was done for affect. And it's good enough to comprehend the affect of this scene than say he was wrong for doing it. Obviously Iraq has been experiencing extreme pain and death for decades. Most recently the sanctions had practically strangled the people while making Saddam so much more powerful in the resulting vacuum. Stasis for Saddam and his thugs, while the situation got exceedingly worse for poor Iraqis. Even though I was and continue to be against this war, I do understand this hard cold fact.

Again, many of my family both here and in Iraq say that the only way to get rid of Saddam would be by having this war. But most think it was not the right way to go about doing it. And does it mean that it is right to have this war? Some say yes, some say no. I think it was a huge mistake in the long run...of course, after so brutally crushing the common person's will through such harsh sanctions and continuous bombing raids while Saddam and his thugs got fat off of Iraq's toil. The knees of millions of Iraqis had buckled. How could such a people resist? Well, unfortunately for our troops (and now I oddly think to myself...American and Iraqi troops), we are seeing how the people can resist on a daily basis. 4 american soldiers died on monday, 4 on tuesday, 2 on wenesday, 6 on Thursday, 1 on friday, 4 on saturday, 3 on sunday. How many will die today?! ...and how many Iraqi policemen or national guard? are those numbers not available? and civilian Iraqis? oh, we dont do body counts. ah...i see. the human story from the American perspective was not missing in F9/11...oh, but the Iraqi human story was missing I felt. I was disappointed that Moore did not compliment the Lipscomb family's story with an Iraqi mother's story of loss and ensuing pain. He did show a rabidly screaming Iraqi mother (possible grandmother too) laying threats on Americans captured by some Arabic TV channel. That's not as humanizing as a civil chat in a living room, though.

All in all, Fahrenheit 9/11 made me feel sick. Of course, there's anger, regret, and frustration at the level of ignorance. It just put me in an uncomfortable place in the end. It made me wonder why have I been put through many wars in my life in such a demented way. Sometimes as a victim, but mostly as a voyeur from afar while I wondered if much of my family were still alive and in what condition: how psychologically traumatized they were after, if they had electricity, and if they had the appropriate provisions when the worst situations arose. I told one of my cousins recently how I felt kind of responsible in a twisted way for what is happening now with the security situation. He told me not to feel this way...and I wondered to myself how I can make any American soldier taken out of a difficult life from the inner city or rural setting being so naive about the world, who's only hope to get out of their situation and be educated is the army, and then expected to handle being in such a hostile and foreign place...how could i make them responsible? There's the "pawns of empire" argument. And it's pertinent to this situation. But is it the soldier's fault? No, obviously. Soldiers carry out the orders of their commanding officers...it's the politicians and policy makers who should hold ultimate accountability. because they created a muddled and unjust middle eastern and southeast asian policy that has promoted death, destruction, and torture to stop death, destruction, torture while at the same time bringing freedom. how do you create freedom through bombs, continuing torture and bringing guantanamo bay methods to Iraq? instead, they've created a place that will fan the flames of extremism and hatred for the foreseeable future if the Bush administration does not make some drastic changes and allow for a debate to actually take place fromo the highest to lowest levels of government about the current methodology of the so-called "war on terror" or war without end. (I tend to think it is too late...but I try to hope it isn't.) so, when will they be held accountable for all the half-truths and deceit that has broken apart alliances that have been painstakingly put together during the past half-century and caused unmistakable damage to american credibility through the unmistakable and shameful Abu Ghraib scandal?

A tagent: I've had this crazy idea lately...wouldn't it be a thoroughly demented fate if I, for instance, was drafted into the Army and had to serve in Iraq. I think about this from time to time. This hypothetical would pose a serious and interesting dilemma. So, I'm writing a short story about it now because it would be an interesting way for me to navigate through my identity in a creative manner.

on the other side of the coin...americans expect iraqis to be bombed, liberated into chaos, and like it, too? this is just extremely ridiculous, ok? when an iraqi blogger pours praise on occupation soldiers it makes me sick to my stomach sometimes because i wonder, do they deserve it when 100 Iraqis die and another few hundred maimed? and what was the context of this praise? shouldn't they just get out as soon as possible for their and Iraq's own good? then i think how these contracted killers in firms like blackwater are causing more confusion and violence riding around so arrogantly with their six-figure in six-months work while the soldier is made to suffer from their mistakes and go rescue them. GET THE CONTRACTED CIVILIANS WITH HEAVY WEAPONS (THAT CONSTITUTE THE EFFECT OF MILITIAS) CAUSING CHAOS OUT OF IRAQ FIRST!

anyway, where was i? well, yes, now back to the other side of the coin...say some fresh faced 18 year old from the deep south goes to Iraq and really screws up and kills an innocent person or gets killed in the process because he or she couldn't speak arabic or was culturally insensitive. i can't blame anyone but the situation. the situation should not have come about to cause such trauma. in some cases the situation causes terminal trauma either reflexively or projected upon a person. that is my civil middle ground. if i tried to relate to the insurgent's or the soldier's point of view, I would always get an incomplete picture. because how do i know that some specific insurgent didn't just join because his whole family was slaughtered "accidentally" in an american targeting mistake. that's the problem when fighting with such cruel weapons. there's absolutely no room for error, or else you are creating more violence and more insurgents more quickly than creating a steady electricity supply or jobs, for instance. and what about that young impressionable army recruit? should he be made into a victim because he screwed up with his itchy trigger finger? hell no, but i hope none of my family are on the receiving end of such fire.

so, i walk this fine line because i see no other way to keep an open mind.

and my open mind has not been a victim through this difficult time.

so i have won. ha, world. ha.




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