Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq (Paperback)
BUZZFLASH REVIEWSAny debate about the value of blogging should begin with the remarkable "Baghdad Burning" by an anonymous Iraqi woman in her mid-twenties known as Riverbend.
Through Riverbend's online journal, the blog attains its highest value as a unique voice that reveals to us the thoughts, reflections, personal life, politics and history of Iraq. Because of the U.S. government manipulation and intimidation of the Western media in Iraq, we know very little about what is really going on in that nation. Riverbend fills in an important gap. She is an Iraqi computer programmer who is fluent in English, serving as her own able translator, in a book that moves from the telling personal details to on-the-ground information on the terrible toll that the American invasion has inflicted on Iraqis.
She then goes on to juxtapose the devastation caused by the American destruction of Fallujah to 9/11 in New York. How can lives be traded off? Whose lives are worth more? Or are all deaths equal among innocents?
In a recent posting on the blog, Riverbend lamented the shallow naivete' of American newscasts, which are now being imposed -- basically as propaganda -- upon the people of Iraq (when their electricity is working, which is not often). She describes American television news this way:
It took an apparently upper middle class Iraqi, in the midst of a devastated country, to impale the vacuosness of American news.
Riverbend is not a person wallowing in politics. She is an individual who has come to formulate political thoughts about the failure of the American occupation as an Iraqi who was also none too fond of Saddam Hussein. What you get are her candid, but cogently written, thoughts that come from her experience. She is not a theorist; she is a person trapped in a country that became a pawn in a geo-political power grab. Like most of us, she is an individual who is powerless to change the course of history, but she can trenchantly observe its passage.
But, what is perhaps intriguing about Riverbend is that she combines the personal journal blog and political commentary blog into a seamless record. In fact, it is her observations on her extended family that make her blog such a compellingly personal account of what it is like to live in Baghdad.
Here Riverbend recounts searching out school supplies for her cousin's daughters for their first day of school:
Her previous post was about riots in Baghdad:
These are the extremes Riverbend's life navigates, as they are for all Iraqis.
For the Bush Cartel, the Iraqis are just dispensable pawns, whose plight is wallpapered over with Disneyesque propaganda.
Fortunately for us, Riverbend is a witness to the truth. Like all bloggers, she has a story to tell and opinions -- sometimes she even plays the role of teacher about Iraq's flora, fauna, and religious rivalries, among other insights.
In a war that most Iraqis see as an occupying destructive force replacing an internal tyrant, Riverbend is a gift to us. For through her eyes, we see the real Iraq, not the Disneyworld version put together by the White House's PR firms and the Pentagon Psy-Ops operatives.
This is a book of her collected blog entries for one year.
You should buy it, because she deserves our support and our gratitude.
Not many of us would summon her courage.