September 16, 2004

Watching Fahrenheit 911

Riverbend hasn't been writing much from Baghdad these days. Yet on the anniversary of 9/11, she writes that to mark that day, she watched Fahrenheit 911. As I've come to expect from Riverbend, her eloquence and directness make her unique perspective compelling as well as haunting.

Ah, that mother. How she made me angry in the beginning. I couldn’t stand to see her on screen- convincing the world that joining the army was the ideal thing to do- perfectly happy that her daughter and son were ‘serving’ America- nay, serving, in fact, the world by joining up. I hated her even more as they showed the Iraqi victims- the burning buildings, the explosions, the corpses- the dead and the dying. I wanted to hate her throughout the whole film because she embodied the arrogance and ignorance of the people who supported the war.

I can’t explain the feelings I had towards her. I pitied her because, apparently, she knew very little about what she was sending her kids into. I was angry with her because she really didn’t want to know what she was sending her children to do. In the end, all of those feelings crumbled away as she read the last letter from her deceased son. I began feeling a sympathy I really didn’t want to feel, and as she was walking in the streets of Washington, looking at the protestors and crying, it struck me that the Americans around her would never understand her anguish. The irony of the situation is that the one place in the world she would ever find empathy was Iraq. We understand. We know what it’s like to lose family and friends to war- to know that their final moments weren’t peaceful ones… that they probably died thirsty and in pain… that they weren’t surrounded by loved ones while taking their final breath.

Reading Riverbend, I am reminded that we have done a grave injustice to the Iraqi people and how much we have to atone for this. Iraqis did not attack the US. And they will not forgive us easily for the nightmare in which they live today.

Posted by Mary at September 16, 2004 11:34 PM | Recommended Reading | Technorati links |