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Iraq: US Soldiers' Everyday Violence

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    NY: FROM GOOK TO RAGHEAD Bob Hebert, New York Times, 5/1/05 http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/02/opinion/02herbert.html?hp I spent some time recently with
    Message 1 of 1 , May 3, 2005
      Bob Hebert, New York Times, 5/1/05

      I spent some time recently with Aidan Delgado, a 23-year-old religion
      major at New College of Florida, a small, highly selective school in

      On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, before hearing anything about the
      terror attacks that would change the direction of American history,
      Mr. Delgado enlisted as a private in the Army Reserve. Suddenly, in
      ways he had never anticipated, the military took over his life. He was
      trained as a mechanic and assigned to the 320th Military Police
      Company in St. Petersburg. By the spring of 2003, he was in Iraq.
      Eventually he would be stationed at the prison compound in Abu Ghraib.

      Mr. Delgado's background is unusual. He is an American citizen, but
      because his father was in the diplomatic corps, he grew up overseas.
      He spent eight years in Egypt, speaks Arabic and knows a great deal
      about the various cultures of the Middle East. He wasn't happy when,
      even before his unit left the states, a top officer made wisecracks
      about the soldiers heading off to Iraq to kill some ragheads and burn
      some turbans.

      ''He laughed,'' Mr. Delgado said, ''and everybody in the unit laughed
      with him.''

      The officer's comment was a harbinger of the gratuitous violence that,
      according to Mr. Delgado, is routinely inflicted by American soldiers
      on ordinary Iraqis. He said: ''Guys in my unit, particularly the
      younger guys, would drive by in their Humvee and shatter bottles over
      the heads of Iraqi civilians passing by. They'd keep a bunch of empty
      Coke bottles in the Humvee to break over people's heads.''

      He said he had confronted guys who were his friends about this
      practice. ''I said to them: 'What the hell are you doing? Like, what
      does this accomplish?' And they responded just completely openly. They
      said: 'Look, I hate being in Iraq. I hate being stuck here. And I hate
      being surrounded by hajis.'''

      ''Haji'' is the troops' term of choice for an Iraqi. It's used the way
      ''gook'' or ''Charlie'' was used in Vietnam.

      Mr. Delgado said he had witnessed incidents in which an Army sergeant
      lashed a group of children with a steel Humvee antenna, and a Marine
      corporal planted a vicious kick in the chest of a kid about 6 years
      old. There were many occasions, he said, when soldiers or marines
      would yell and curse and point their guns at Iraqis who had done
      nothing wrong.

      He said he believes that the absence of any real understanding of Arab
      or Muslim culture by most G.I.'s, combined with a lack of proper
      training and the unrelieved tension of life in a war zone, contributes
      to levels of fear and rage that lead to frequent instances of
      unnecessary violence. (MORE)



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