Saturday, April 02, 2005

Baghdad Burning

All over the news today is the death, life, and miscellaneous of Pope John Paul. Squeezed in there a bit, is the fact that insurgents in Iraq attacked the Abu Ghraib prison and 32 people have been injured. American troops have died and been attacked with RPG' and bombs. Five Iraqis died in yet another blast. The rate of Iraqi children who are starving since America and the Coalition invaded that country has doubled. Nine Australians aid workers died in a crash while trying to assist the latest earthquake victims.

I thought I was the only one trying to get past the volumes of news pages of junk about the death of someone who headed a church whose policies denigrated gay men, but "forgave" them, denigrated all women, but "forgave" them, mandated sex w/o birth control, so it could keep all of the poor, poor, etc. I know I am generalizing here, but, I don't care. The church's policies suck, are hateful, and harmful to life on this planet, and always have been. Now I'm not generalizing. Anyway, I checked Buzzflash and they of course had other news items.
Baghdad Burning is the blog of a young female Iraqi. Here is an excerpt from her post today. It seems that Iraq is now blessed with mainly American TV programming:

And the programming continues.…I've been enchanted with the shows these last few weeks. The thing that strikes me most is the fact that the news is so… clean. It’s like hospital food. It's all organized and disinfected.

Everything is partitioned and you can feel how it has been doled out carefully with extreme attention to the portions- 2 minutes on women’s rights in Afghanistan, 1 minute on training troops in Iraq and 20 minutes on Terri Schiavo! All the reportages are upbeat and somewhat cheerful, and the anchor person manages to look properly concerned and completely uncaring all at once.

About a month ago, we were treated to an interview on 20/20 with Sabrina Harman- the witch in some of the Abu Ghraib pictures. You know- the one smiling over faceless, naked Iraqis piled up to make a human pyramid. Elizabeth Vargus was doing the interview and the whole show was revolting. They were trying to portray Sabrina as an innocent who was caught up in military orders and fear of higher ranking officers. The show went on and on about how American troops never really got seminars on Geneva Conventions (like one needs to be taught humanity) and how poor Sabrina was being made a scapegoat. They showed the restaurant where she worked before the war and how everyone thought she was “such a nice person” who couldn’t hurt a fly!

We sat there watching like we were a part of another world, in another galaxy. I’ve always sensed from the various websites that American mainstream news is far-removed from reality- I just didn’t know how far. Everything is so tame and simplified. Everyone is so sincere.

Furthermore, I don't understand the worlds fascination with reality shows. Survivor, The Bachelor, Murder in Small Town X, Faking It, The Contender… it's endless. Is life so boring that people need to watch the conjured up lives of others?

I have a suggestion of my own for a reality show. Take 15 Bush supporters and throw them in a house in the suburbs of, say, Falloojeh for at least 14 days. We could watch them cope with the water problems, the lack of electricity, the check points, the raids, the Iraqi National Guard, the bombings, and- oh yeah- the ‘insurgents’. We could watch their house bombed to the ground and their few belongings crushed under the weight of cement and brick or simply burned or riddled with bullets. We could see them try to rebuild their life with their bare hands (and the equivalent of $150)…I'd not only watch *that* reality show, I'd tape every episode.

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