Monday, August 07, 2006

For the last week or so I have been checking out blogs and websites that originate in Baghdad and in Iran. Don’t ask me why or what got me started. It’s the kind of thing you are apt to do when long retired and bored. I did find it interesting but fraught with suspicion and questionable origin. One, Riverbend’s “Baghdad Burning” is a first person journal of life in the city. It is written in English by a 27-year-old girl, educated overseas, who was a computer programmer before the arrival of the Americans. It doesn’t take much reading to understand that she is anti-American, but just a little more reading and you understand why. Her blog is beautifully written and has received awards for the writing and the content. I quickly learned, when I dared to suggest on another site that she be read, that many are convinced that she is some sort of latter day Tokyo Rose. My problem with that is I can’t figure out who might be her sponsor. She appears to be an equal opportunity people-hater. But whether she is amateur or professional, her blog is fascinating insight into every day life in a big city in Iraq.
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It all reminded me of when, around fifty years ago, we went on a cruise that stopped at the island of Martinique. With another couple we hired a taxi driver to take us into town on an errand. I will tell that weird story sometime in the future. When that was done, the driver convinced us to let him drive us on a scenic ride around the island. While a so-called overseas department of France, the Martinique people had no say in their government. We were conversing with the driver about the lack of any real traces of democracy. We passed a mean tropical hovel. He stopped the taxi and leaning back over the front seat to speak to us face to face. With real emotion, he told us that twelve people lived in that little shack. He said they spent everyday trying to obtain food to keep themselves alive. He almost shouted that they did not know what a vote would do for them when what they wanted was food and a decent place to live.

That was the day I learned that democracy was not the be all and end all in some parts of the world. I suspect Riverbend is trying to make the same point.


Archana said...

I went through the Riverbend blogs. I was mesmerized and simply couldn't stop reading it for quite a while. It is heartbreaking. It is the common man who ultimately suffers no matter who is to blame.

Marilyn said...

I haven't read Baghdad Burning in a long while...thanks for the reminder. Isn't it great (and important) that we can read blogs around the world...real-life citizen journalism without media spin? I think it's so vital in these times, and I'm so happy we have this medium.