I also can’t seem to get excited over stories of abused Iraqis. There are so many and they have a numbing quality. Also, the hostility I encounter from Iraqis makes me — shamefully — less empathetic to their complaints. But nor do I feel much sympathy for Americans who point guns at me. The tragic part of this is that there is no way to blame anyone in this situation. The Iraqis will naturally hate an occupying army. And soldiers will naturally grow to hate a people they think they came to liberate but who continue trying to kill them.
I wish I could see more of the goodness in Iraqis that I know is there. And likewise, I wish they could see the goodness in Americans. But people here — the Iraqis, the CPA, the military and even some journalists — have become blinded to each other’s concerns and qualities. Those of us here, all of us, we’re not all bad people, I don’t believe. And I say “we” because no matter our nationality, this place hammers us into a collective body. The Iraqi selling me delicious juice concoctions, the American soldiers at the checkpoints missing his wife, the CPA employee who truly believed the Bush rhetoric, we are all in this together now.