October 29, 2007

An Act of Kindness from Iraq

I have a new post up at the Commentary magazine blog:

Iraqi Army officers in Besmaya raised a thousand dollars in donations for fire victims in San Diego, California, and the only place that seems to have reported the story is the military blog OPFOR. Author Richard S. Lowry learned about it in a press release from the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq Public Affairs, so it’s unlikely he’s the only one in the media who knows something about it.

Sending a thousand dollars to California will be about as helpful as throwing a glass of water into the firestorm. It’s the thought that counts here. And what surprising thought it is. How many Americans expect charity from Iraq?

As Lowry points out, “most Americans do not consider Iraqis as people.” He’s right. Most of us only know them from sensational media reports about masked insurgents, wailing widows, and death squads. Most of us may instinctively understand that the majority of Iraqis are just regular people, but it’s hard to keep that in mind when the only thing we get Stateside is war coverage. I’ve met hundreds of Iraqis myself during trips to their country as a reporter, so it’s a bit easier for me to see them as just people. I’m still surprised that anyone in that broken impoverished land would even consider donating hard-earned money to Californians.
Read the rest at Commentary.

UPDATE: CNN now has the story on their Web site. Good for them.

This link will take you to all the articles I have written for Commentary. You can bookmark that page if you want to as sort of a supplement to this one.

Remember Noah Pollak? I worked with him in Northern Israel and Southern Lebanon, and he was briefly my co-blogger here. He also has been picked up as a writer by Commentary, and you can read all of his articles here.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 29, 2007 10:38 AM

Author Richard S. Lowry learned about it in a press release from the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq Public Affairs, so it’s unlikely he’s the only one in the media who knows something about it.

Well being as it's long past time to burnish my credentials as a complete disdainer of the MEDIA and all its works(since 2003 and still counting), might I just say that there is a BIG difference between 'knowing' something and 'reporting' something. How can you possibly tilt 'reality' towards your preferred interpretation, if you 'report' ALL the news ? Why the very question itself borders on heresy.

I have seen this story here and on other 'blogs'. And I note ,in fairness, that CNN actually carried it on their website (some quality control issue involved here, no doubt), but elsewhere ------ not so much.

Great story --- crappy coverage.

Color me surprised. But a great story nonetheless.

Posted by: dougf at October 29, 2007 11:35 AM


Do you have a link to the CNN story? I can't find it on the Web site, but I should post an update if it still exists.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 29, 2007 12:18 PM

CNN coverage

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 29, 2007 12:46 PM

Thanks Doug and DPU. Update added here and at Commentary.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 29, 2007 01:08 PM

Hey Michael;

There's a short article about Fallujah (AQ trying to come back?) by Bill [Roggio?] dated today.
You might run into him on your visit.

"How to Resurrect Fallujah" @ http://www.indcjournal.com/

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at October 29, 2007 01:35 PM

Must say I'm pretty suprised. Didn't even knew Iraqis have any money to donate!
Thumps up.

Posted by: Eldameldo at October 29, 2007 02:15 PM

Your willingness to be critical of CNN, yet praise them when they do good, is so excellent ... and typical of your fairness. Also your universal humanity shows here.

“most Americans do not consider Iraqis as people.” is a great line, but I'm sure even most anti-war folk would disagree if asked.

I think the anti-war folk would even say that Iraqis should have human rights, too. But the war question is this: should non-Iraqi Americans fight, die, kill, and sometimes kill civilians to help give them human rights? (Perhaps the killing civilians for the goal of freedom is where your wife is most conflicted, perhaps most war skeptics?)

I think Bush's biggest mistake was in not accepting early that only IRAQIS can "win" their own freedom--but they'll do it much faster with US help.

"The surge is working" ... but it's not really the surge. It's time. Last year, before the surge, the Anbar Awakening started. It would be continuing now, even without much US surge support, although perhaps more slowly, and thus much much more bloodily (for Iraqis).

But this was a post about Iraqis donating to San Diego ... and should Americans be dying for Iraqi freedom. (Obviously not if they're never going to have freedom, but it's not so obvious is they ARE to be free with US help. Like S. Korea, which S. Vietnam could have been like.)

Should white people have died for the freedom of black people?

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at October 29, 2007 05:34 PM

Wow. That adds some perspective, not a small portion of it humbling. Lowry's comment is well put, is spot-on, and the comment by Col. Darel Maxfield from the CNN story sums it up nicely. Reminds of S.E. Asia.

Posted by: Michael B at October 29, 2007 06:58 PM

It's a nice thought, but given the relate disparities in suffering between Iraq and California it seems mind boggling they would use $1000 for such a cause.

Posted by: tg at October 29, 2007 08:12 PM

Suffering is suffering. I'm not trying to compare what we're going through with what they are, and I doubt they are trying to make such comprisons either. My heart goes out to them as it goes out to my friends in San Diego, two of whom lost their home. I have one friend who just got married, and they just bought their first house less than a year ago. They've lost virtually EVERYTHING. Don't begrudge the kind ACTS, not 'thought', that recognize suffering isn't exclusive to certain regions of the world.

Posted by: Astroninja at October 30, 2007 01:54 AM

The Iraqi brigade's act of kindness is entirely consistent with other Iraqi expressions of sympathy for Americans beset by tragedy. Despite or, perhaps, because of a horrific bombing at Baghdad University that cost dozens of lives a few weeks earlier, Iraqi students staged a rally in sympathy for Virginia Tech shortly after the massacre there. Surprisingly, network news reported this story during their prime time broadcasts.

Although liberals love to cite how the Iraq War has turned the Arab street against the U.S., I suspect the situation is far more complex both now and decades to come. Two decades after a Korean War that killed hundreds of thousands of Korean civilians, my mother was not only invited on the spot to an ongoing Korean wedding reception, she was made the guest of honor and seated between the bride and groom simply because she was an American. If Iraqi democracy does prevail, in two decades Americans may experience similar spontaneous expressions of profound gratitude from locals of all sects.

Posted by: Cordell at October 30, 2007 01:38 PM
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