Anti-War Protester gets Educated

Bob Hubbard

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I was a naive fool to be a human shield for Saddam
By Daniel Pepper
(Filed: 23/03/2003)


I wanted to join the human shields in Baghdad because it was direct action which had a chance of bringing the anti-war movement to the forefront of world attention. It was inspiring: the human shield volunteers were making a sacrifice for their political views - much more of a personal investment than going to a demonstration in Washington or London. It was simple - you get on the bus and you represent yourself.

So that is exactly what I did on the morning of Saturday, January 25. I am a 23-year-old Jewish-American photographer living in Islington, north London. I had travelled in the Middle East before: as a student, I went to the Palestinian West Bank during the intifada. I also went to Afghanistan as a photographer for Newsweek.

The human shields appealed to my anti-war stance, but by the time I had left Baghdad five weeks later my views had changed drastically. I wouldn't say that I was exactly pro-war - no, I am ambivalent - but I have a strong desire to see Saddam removed.

We on the bus felt that we were sympathetic to the views of the Iraqi civilians, even though we didn't actually know any. The group was less interested in standing up for their rights than protesting against the US and UK governments.

I was shocked when I first met a pro-war Iraqi in Baghdad - a taxi driver taking me back to my hotel late at night. I explained that I was American and said, as we shields always did, "Bush bad, war bad, Iraq good". He looked at me with an expression of incredulity.

As he realised I was serious, he slowed down and started to speak in broken English about the evils of Saddam's regime. Until then I had only heard the President spoken of with respect, but now this guy was telling me how all of Iraq's oil money went into Saddam's pocket and that if you opposed him politically he would kill your whole family.

It scared the hell out of me. First I was thinking that maybe it was the secret police trying to trick me but later I got the impression that he wanted me to help him escape. I felt so bad. I told him: "Listen, I am just a schmuck from the United States, I am not with the UN, I'm not with the CIA - I just can't help you."

Of course I had read reports that Iraqis hated Saddam Hussein, but this was the real thing. Someone had explained it to me face to face. I told a few journalists who I knew. They said that this sort of thing often happened - spontaneous, emotional, and secretive outbursts imploring visitors to free them from Saddam's tyrannical Iraq.

I became increasingly concerned about the way the Iraqi regime was restricting the movement of the shields, so a few days later I left Baghdad for Jordan by taxi with five others. Once over the border we felt comfortable enough to ask our driver what he felt about the regime and the threat of an aerial bombardment.

"Don't you listen to Powell on Voice of America radio?" he said. "Of course the Americans don't want to bomb civilians. They want to bomb government and Saddam's palaces. We want America to bomb Saddam."

We just sat, listening, our mouths open wide. Jake, one of the others, just kept saying, "Oh my God" as the driver described the horrors of the regime. Jake was so shocked at how naive he had been. We all were. It hadn't occurred to anyone that the Iraqis might actually be pro-war.

The driver's most emphatic statement was: "All Iraqi people want this war." He seemed convinced that civilian casualties would be small; he had such enormous faith in the American war machine to follow through on its promises. Certainly more faith than any of us had.

Perhaps the most crushing thing we learned was that most ordinary Iraqis thought Saddam Hussein had paid us to come to protest in Iraq. Although we explained that this was categorically not the case, I don't think he believed us. Later he asked me: "Really, how much did Saddam pay you to come?"

It hit me on visceral and emotional levels: this was a real portrayal of Iraq life. After the first conversation, I completely rethought my view of the Iraqi situation. My understanding changed on intellectual, emotional, psychological levels. I remembered the experience of seeing Saddam's egomaniacal portraits everywhere for the past two weeks and tried to place myself in the shoes of someone who had been subjected to seeing them every day for the last 20 or so years.

Last Thursday night I went to photograph the anti-war rally in Parliament Square. Thousands of people were shouting "No war" but without thinking about the implications for Iraqis. Some of them were drinking, dancing to Samba music and sparring with the police. It was as if the protesters were talking about a different country where the ruling government is perfectly acceptable. It really upset me.

Anyone with half a brain must see that Saddam has to be taken out. It is extraordinarily ironic that the anti-war protesters are marching to defend a government which stops its people exercising that freedom.
 
You wont see or hear about that on CNN!! Too bad our media tries to bury what is really going on!
 
A large percent of people figure out the Hussien was a monster twelve years ago. Are these protester that thick in the head or are they just stupid? No one wants war, but sometimes it is necessary. Most of the protester can be place into to broad catagories; those individuals that dislike the American goverment no matter what happens,ie taxes, policy,party politics and those individuals that have no idea what they are talking about, ie just parroting what they hear. Both groups should be sent to iraq and see if their high moral standards keep them alive. It is real easy to be a protester when your young and have never had to be on your own. I saw a TV interview with some spring break vacationers from college and one women stated that if she hadn't been on spring break in Florida, she would join the protesters. Now that's commitment to your cause isn't it.

Mountain Sage
 
I aways kind of wondered why Saddam was not taken out years ago if he is so bad?
 
Originally posted by MountainSage
A large percent of people figure out the Hussien was a monster twelve years ago. Are these protester that thick in the head or are they just stupid? No one wants war, but sometimes it is necessary. Most of the protester can be place into to broad catagories; those individuals that dislike the American goverment no matter what happens,ie taxes, policy,party politics and those individuals that have no idea what they are talking about, ie just parroting what they hear. Both groups should be sent to iraq and see if their high moral standards keep them alive. It is real easy to be a protester when your young and have never had to be on your own. I saw a TV interview with some spring break vacationers from college and one women stated that if she hadn't been on spring break in Florida, she would join the protesters. Now that's commitment to your cause isn't it.

Mountain Sage

LMFAO! EXACTLY!!
 
Originally posted by MountainSage
A large percent of people figure out the Hussien was a monster twelve years ago. Are these protester that thick in the head or are they just stupid? No one wants war, but sometimes it is necessary. Most of the protester can be place into to broad catagories; those individuals that dislike the American goverment no matter what happens,ie taxes, policy,party politics and those individuals that have no idea what they are talking about, ie just parroting what they hear. Both groups should be sent to iraq and see if their high moral standards keep them alive. It is real easy to be a protester when your young and have never had to be on your own. I saw a TV interview with some spring break vacationers from college and one women stated that if she hadn't been on spring break in Florida, she would join the protesters. Now that's commitment to your cause isn't it.

Mountain Sage


I do not know. Yet there are people alive today that believe the the Death Camps fo teh Nazi's in Germany of the Jews never existed.

Go Figure :shrug:
 
Originally posted by khadaji
I aways kind of wondered why Saddam was not taken out years ago if he is so bad?

It was not in the interest of the United States to do so, indeed it would have been counter to the interests of the United States.
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IMHO that is still the case now but 12 years ago my view was sharred more with the people in charge.
 
Originally posted by Rich Parsons
I do not know. Yet there are people alive today that believe the the Death Camps fo teh Nazi's in Germany of the Jews never existed.

Go Figure :shrug:


Your joking right Rich? :eek:
 
He's serious, sadly. There are people who think its all made up, than no jews or gypsies were ever slaughtered by the nazis.
 
Originally posted by Kaith Rustaz
He's serious, sadly. There are people who think its all made up, than no jews or gypsies were ever slaughtered by the nazis.

They exist here in this country and also in Europe where the events took place. :(

I am sorry to say that I have meet some of them. :(
 
Originally posted by Rich Parsons
They exist here in this country and also in Europe where the events took place. :(

I am sorry to say that I have meet some of them. :(

What the hell......:cuss:
 
I have actually heard this from someone. I felt nauseous. Then I nailed him. :angry:
 
Originally posted by Jill666
I have actually heard this from someone. I felt nauseous. Then I nailed him. :angry:


How can they be that ignorant.......:mad:
 
Because they choose to be.
To think otherwise would hurt their narrow minded world view, and force them to face reality.
...and that, they dont like.
 
Originally posted by Kaith Rustaz
Because they choose to be.
To think otherwise would hurt their narrow minded world view, and force them to face reality.
...and that, they dont like.

Just another thing in life I just dont and will never understand :cuss:
 
What most US civilians do not understand, nor do they know, is what it is like to live eevry moment in fear. Fear you will be in the wrong place at the wrong time, say the wrong thing, wear the wrong clothes, not move fast enough, say the wrong thing, or look the wrong way. They don't know what it is like to go really hungry, or cold, or hot, to not have the basic comforts. They will go for a week or 2 to bring water to the desert, or a care package...but they won't 'live' there...or drink the same water as teh villagers...without filtering it first that is.

Americans are soft...they do not understand. They think that everything can be talked out. They think that by disrupting traffic in NYC that it matters a bit in Iraq. It doesnt. The average Iraqi could care less.

They just want to live without fear.

All they know right now is fear.
Fear that Saddam or his forces will kill them.
Fear that the American Devils they have been taught to hate will kill them.
Fear that a bomb or bullet or gas, or worse will kill or maim them or their families.


People who deny the camps, the holocost, the horrors, have never looked at them.

I forced myself to watch the POW videos...I forced myself to watch footage from the Nazi camps....a still picture doesnt convey it ... words do not convey it... it changes you... to see that much evil in the world.

Those who can look at it and not feel....or worse, can deny it.... they aren't human, IMO....

:(
 
Originally posted by Kaith Rustaz
What most US civilians do not understand, nor do they know, is what it is like to live eevry moment in fear. Fear you will be in the wrong place at the wrong time, say the wrong thing, wear the wrong clothes, not move fast enough, say the wrong thing, or look the wrong way. They don't know what it is like to go really hungry, or cold, or hot, to not have the basic comforts. They will go for a week or 2 to bring water to the desert, or a care package...but they won't 'live' there...or drink the same water as teh villagers...without filtering it first that is.

Americans are soft...they do not understand. They think that everything can be talked out. They think that by disrupting traffic in NYC that it matters a bit in Iraq. It doesnt. The average Iraqi could care less.

They just want to live without fear.

All they know right now is fear.
Fear that Saddam or his forces will kill them.
Fear that the American Devils they have been taught to hate will kill them.
Fear that a bomb or bullet or gas, or worse will kill or maim them or their families.


People who deny the camps, the holocost, the horrors, have never looked at them.

I forced myself to watch the POW videos...I forced myself to watch footage from the Nazi camps....a still picture doesnt convey it ... words do not convey it... it changes you... to see that much evil in the world.

Those who can look at it and not feel....or worse, can deny it.... they aren't human, IMO....

:(


I dont know whether it is because I have always been taught to show my emotions or because Im a soft bastard.....But sometimes I cannot help but feel. When my Aunty died I swore that was the last time I would cry. Then I finally braved the memorial forum and read Rachels Little Karateka post and couldnt help but feel a tear. I look at whats happining with the war today and find myself unable to ignore it. I know the Americans and Iraqis are dying. I also know that Sadam will continue to kill more unless something is done. I admit that although I am Jewish I do not know much about my culture or heritage....But I would still feel the urge to deck anyone who claimed that my family or friends were not killed in those camps. The question isnt if those who cant feel or deny are human........but whether they deserve to be..........
 

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