Letter: Dehumanizing Iraqis

By The Daily Illini

Kiyoshi Martinez’s Tuesday column is the most appalling thing I have ever read. You don’t pity dead Iraqi children, as your “pity is reserved for the U.S. soldier who dies bringing democracy to Iraq”? The cost of the war is measured only in American lives?

You have basically dehumanized the people of Iraq in order to rationalize your twisted view that Americans should be above international law. If you don’t care about the people of Iraq, and are so willing to see them as less than human and undeserving of compassion, then why are you behind “bringing democracy” to them? Why not just rule over them as an imperial power like the British did over their colonies? If Iraqis and Americans are not equally human, then why should we endeavor to bring them our form of government, with the same rights for Iraqi citizens that we enjoy at home? Shouldn’t they be happy with less? Think of how your words make our efforts in Iraq look in the eyes of the citizens of countries that have only state-controlled, anti-American media.

Enough rhetorical questions, because I’m sure you’ll find some way to dodge the issues and avoid responsibility for your words, claiming you didn’t say what I just read. Here’s something to really think about: If Americans mistreat POWs, then that legitimizes the mistreatment of our POWs when they are captured. If the U.S. doesn’t investigate and prosecute war crimes violations, then that makes it easy for the anti-American Arab media to project the false image that those actions are supported by Americans, which in turn makes it easier for terrorist groups to incite violence against our troops and civilians. If our end goal is to increase our safety at home, and reduce attacks on our military personnel, then our soldiers need to stop mistreating POWs and our pundits and leaders need to start having compassion for innocent Iraqi civilians. It seems that these basic facts are inconvenient for the jingoistic and neo-conservative columnists that the DI has regrettably hired and allowed to pollute our dialogue with selective morality.

The vast majority of our soldiers are doing a good job. Despite having their asses on the line, they are able to maintain a level of conformance to American ideals, which armchair Rambos such as Martinez and Elie Dvorin seem incapable of. Go ask a soldier who accidentally killed an Iraqi child if the fact that he or she wasn’t an American is any consolation. To suggest such a thing would likely get you a well-deserved beating. The soldiers on the ground overwhelmingly see the Iraqis as more human than the DI Opinions-page writers do, and treat them that way; but some soldiers cross the line of international law and must be held accountable in order for our mission to succeed. This is not an attack on our military personnel. War is stressful, and soldiers’ fuses can blow, but we need to “love the sinner and hate the sin” instead of loving the sinner and the sin.

Daniel Manjarres

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