Friday, July 16, 2004

Good News Bad News Friday

The New York Times  reports the good news:
There is one thing the sovereign state of Iraq can offer its citizens today, and Iraqis are banging down the doors to get their hands on it: a passport out of the country.

On a recent morning in front of the newly reopened passport office, bodies pressed on bodies for a chance to get inside. Pink and yellow files, each containing a precious passport application, waved in the air, as a young man tried to climb onto a rust-orange gate to get the attention of the bureaucrats inside. In the chaos, a sign that hung above the front door toppled to the floor.

At one point, Iraqi policemen charged at the crowd, wielding batons. A couple of shots were fired in the air. The line, if it can be called that, disintegrated and the crowd retreated toward a barbed wire fence before lunging forward again.

Jobless, rattled, fed up, Iraqis are dreaming of getting out.

"Escape from Iraq" is how Muhammad Kadhum, 26, a college student, described his intentions. "I cannot live here in Iraq. I cannot feel like a man."

Zeinab Heart, 24, waiting in black in the already wilting midmorning heat for a chance to move to her husband's native Lebanon, lamented: "I want to get out. I want my children to live in a peaceful place."

Wesam Mohammed, 22, who arrived at 4:30 a.m. to claim a choice spot in the passport line, only to lose it when the police struck, said: "There is no comfort here. No stability. Explosions everywhere. This is impossible." He wiped his forehead and said he hoped to go to the United Arab Emirates to join a relative.

The Iraq Coalition Casualty Count reports the bad news: people are still dying. Just halfway thru the month for a total of 1,012 allied deaths, 892 of them American, plus countless Iraqis who have died in Bush's War, the tens of thousands of maimed and wounded on both sides, and the forgotten war in Afghanistan (another 130 dead).

Kos links to Religious writer Jeff Sharlet who reminds us not to forget the bodies.
We've grown tired of reading and looking at this story; the mainstream press is getting tired of telling it. Tired, and wary of the costs of getting the "good stuff" -- true tales of soldiers in action, or even just "man-in-the-street" interviews in Sadr City. This reporter was kidnapped; the guy from Time lost a hand; who, in the end, is really willing to die for a story?
Especially one in which so little happens. A year and more into the occupation, nothing seems to change. Schools get built, city halls get bombed. Troops return home, troops go to war. And the pictures, they keep coming. All these photographs of bodies. So many that nobody bothers to read the captions anymore. All we say is --"Did you see? Those pictures?"

The burnt skin, the crushed heads. Corpses without limbs. Images without explanations.

But we need stories. The press needs to sell them; the public needs to buy them; and, apparently, politicians need to tell them.

Mr. Sharlet has photos. Not for the timid.


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