Constantly sweating in Baghdad's brutal summer heat, the men of the 82nd stopped traffic for old women to cross the street, ordered double-parking motorists to move on and endured, with surprisingly good humor, the swarms of children and teenagers who won't leave them alone.
They obliged passers-by who wanted to pose next to them for photographs and administered first aid to a boy with a cut on his hand. In a society that was notorious for its corruption under Saddam, they sought to demonstrate the notion of one law for everyone, admonishing a police officer in front of bemused onlookers for leaving his car in a no-park zone.
"Sir," shouted one soldier, "As a police officer, you must set an example for everyone."
But no amount of good will could quell Abdel-Hameed al-Assadi's resentment of America.
"It is shocking," al-Assadi, a 56-year-old civil servant said about the American presence outside the mosque. Pausing before sunset prayers, he added: "To see Americans standing like this in front of the imam's shrine? My God, it's a bitter medicine that we must swallow."...
...But the presence of Americans weighed heavily on the mind of Hussein Ali, a 40-year-old laborer and father of six.
"We'll force them to leave when the right time comes," he said. Then he fell silent and whispered: "How do we know that there are no Israelis among them?"
Wish I knew what the Quran says about hating folks according to their heritage. Sheesh.
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
A VERY WELL WRITTEN ARTICLE HERE about the efforts we are making, and the width of the cultural divide.