This morning on NPR they were talking to academics from Iraq who have fled the country. It made me really sad. I think one of the things that vast majority of Americans don't understand (or don't give time to think about) is that Iraq is a middle class country. That is to say the level of education, the amount of money and education etc. that people have is comparable to western Europe or any of the "first world" nations. It is often depicted in the media etc. as a sandy, desert place full of barefoot boys and bearded men in turbans. But the truth is it was a country full of thriving cities no different from ours here, with people doing all kinds of work and those people, people quite literally just like you and I are now living in extreme danger. Danger from the actual facts of war: bombs, gunshots, beatings. But also from the current regime of fundamentalists that are over taking. This, in my opinion, isn't so different from what happened in Iran, where the entire educated middle class was crushed under the heel of extreme fundamentalism. (HA! Just as I was typing that one of the guys on the show said much the same thing!)
It makes me really hurt, partly because I feel so bad for all these people. People who love their country, the land they come from, who are cast out, running, fearing for their lives because of their beliefs. But it's more than that, I don't feel in any way protected from this myself. I don't doubt the possibility of something similar happening here. We aren't so high and mighty anymore, as Americans. The threat of losing our rights and moral liberties to fundamentalism overtaking government is much more real threat than communism ever was, and more insidious because it will come from inside and we will be too complacent to do anything about it.
Now, people are calling in and apologizing to these men for what American did to Iraq. I need to start thinking about something else before I burst into tears at my desk. But you should all go listen yourselves.