a young pakistani doctor blogs...
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
  The rape of Humanity
A former American soldier Private First Class Steven Green of the 101st Airborne Division has been charged with the rape and murder of a 15 year old Iraqi girl, the murder of her parents and her 7 year old sister.

Apparently Steven Green and three other soldiers spotted the 15 year old while on routine traffic patrol. They followed her to her home and spent the next week planning/fantasizing sexually assaulting this minor. According to different reports on the matter, the girl’s parents had noticed the soldiers’ interest and later, unwelcome advances, towards their daughter and were troubled enough to talk to a neighbor about hiding her in their house so the soldiers could not find her should they have a mind to come after her later on.

A week after they first noticed her, Green and three of his friend stormed into the house, ordered the girl’s parents and her 7 year old sister into another room at gunpoint and shot them dead.

Then they proceeded to gang-rape her.

Then they shot her dead.

Then they burnt her body to try and cover up their crime.

It sickens and weakens me to write this. I really don’t know how to put my feelings down here. There are so many emotions rushing inside of me. I feel rage at this war crime. She was just a kid. 15 years old. Her 7 year old sister was even younger, brutally shot dead in front of her parents. I try not to think of what she must have been going through, having heard gunshots in the other room, followed by a deadly silence only for that horror to be followed by the interminable ordeal of her being gang-raped by the so-called Liberators of Iraq. What must the parents have been going through when they saw the soldiers burst in.

The injustice of it all is enough to keep you up at night, to drive you crazy if you were to give in to it. The temptation to condemn every American soldier is great. I feel bitter towards a corrupt American government and towards a docile, seemingly unconcerned American public in whose name an entire country is being raped. I feel angered that many Americans still feel they have the moral upper hand in this war -  who still feel that “supporting the troops” somehow means supporting the corrupt war their leaders have conned them into entering. I feel angered knowing that there will be many more girls like this innocent 15 year old who we will never know about. I feel heartbroken that the United States, which was capable of so much greatness, and held so much promise, capable of spreading so much good throughout the world is choosing to use its power in this way.
Atrocities occur in the Muslim world everyday, perpetrated by Muslims on other Muslims. So why is it that when it is an American that rapes and murders that we feel so much worse?

For me, its because I feel I’m entitled to expect better. I know how hopeless we in the Muslim world are. I see the breakdown of morality in my country everyday. From where I stand, things in the Muslim world won’t get any better for at least a couple of generations. We’re steeped in a Dark Age right now and I’m not naive to think that Muslim governments would ever act any better than Western ones. If there is any hope that improved education and improved economic conditions led to a greater sense of humanity, then surely that hope lies with the West. But from what we’re seeing, there seems to be no connection between a sense of humanity and freedom from hunger, poverty and illiteracy. The moral fabric of the Muslim world is in shambles but the West, while richer and more educated, is just as worse. What hope is there then for humanity?

This is not just about a 15 year old Iraq girl. This incident is a perfect analogy of America’s relationship with the rest of the world. America could have helped that girl get a decent education, a decent job, a decent life, with a chance to raise her own kids, free from tyranny and fear. That will never happen now, and for millions of Iraqis today that dream will continue to be denied.

By the way, the girl’s name was Abeer.
My question is: why isn't Green and the other soldiers/criminals being tried in military court? Why are they only being tried in federal court?

This makes most of us Americans sick too. Unfortunately there are bad people disguised in American military uniforms abusing that position. As you say these atrocities occur by Muslims and non-Muslims and it is a tragedy no matter how it occurs. This girl and her family certainly didn't deserve this treament. Please be assured that this American doesn't condone this, doesn't think it's right and hope that these soldiers will be tried as anyone else committing rape and several counts of murder. It's one more reason I personally think our troops don't belong in Iraq, the pressure and danger of being there are obviously making some of the sicker ones start to act out.
"Please be assured that this American doesn't condone this, doesn't think it's right..."

And yet most don't do much to prevent the next war, which will be opportunity enough for more such incidents. The amnesia of the US public is astounding.

You know, at a journalism conference, Amy Goodman, host of the news show "Democracy Now", was asked why the American public doesn't seem to care about what is going on to others - not just abroad but even within the US. This was in reference to a discussion on how shows focusing on celebrities get much more attention by the average person in the US than shows about others (such as news shows, or documentaries).

Amy Goodman replied that she disagreed with the assumption in the question. "Americans do care. The reason they watch the shows on celebrities is not because of the celebrities, but because they are human interest stories. They will be equally interested in news shows and documentaries if they focused on the human aspect of it all, rather than passing out statistics (number killed, number starving, percentage below poverty line, etc)."

Amy Goodman felt that the solution was to humanize the stories, and this is indeed how Fox News gained such a high viewership. Not by reporting nonsense (which they do), but making the ordinary American relate to it.

I can agree with Amy on that point.

I think Amy and her show are the best in the US when it comes to news - and I do deeply respect her. But I must disagree with her first statement.

"Americans do care."

I'm sorry. She's wrong. The average one doesn't.

What Amy meant to say was, "Americans have the capacity to care, and that they will if the material is presented to them to evoke such sympathy."

But really, that's a non-statement. It's tantamount to declaring that Americans are indeed human, just as the rest of the world. This is not surprising.

It's not noteworthy if they have to wait until someone makes them care. What defines a compassionate person is the desire to care about these issues without it being spoonfed to him/her. For me, the charitable person is not someone who donates money to others when asked, but one who looks for causes to donate/volunteer to on his own initiative.

By that criterion, Americans as a society have not earned that honor.

The ideal is if your average American would keep abreast of these issues actively, rather than wait for it to be repeated ten times over before noticing it.

But really, what society does behave that way? As the good doctor pointed out, perhaps none. So why pick on the American public?

I can cite two reasons: The first is the public has a lot of power, although with recent government actions, that power keeps decreasing (the public doesn't seem to care, though). Many societies, say in the Middle East, China, or Pakistan, live under nasty dictatorships. They don't have much power to change things. Americans do. By holding their politicians accountable. It really is not that hard.

Having said this, the sad truth is that in most of the aforementioned countries, the average literate person is simply much more knowledgeable about what goes on in the rest of the world than the average American. Even though they have less of an ability to change things.

The second reason is simply that the US government is involved in many, many nasty things in the world. Frankly, an occasional rape and murder is very minor in the whole scheme of things. When a country repeatedly invades other nations, and at times wreaks havoc in those lands (as they have done in Iraq), at the very least the public should try to know the truth in what is going on, and the reasons for these actions. They elected the government. What's the point of electing officials if you don't care about their actions?

One of the most inane questions Americans have asked is, "Why do they hate us?". It's a very reasonable question. The inanity arises from the fact that answers are everywhere - all around them. One only has to look, and yet they don't. At best, they wait for the media to look into it, and trust them to inform them.

September 11 occurred. People got unhappy. Almost 5 years have passed. How many of the unhappy people tried, on their own initiative, to find out why those responsible did what they did? This includes actually pondering over the words spoken by people such as O b L.

I suspect very few. How can one say they care?

I don't mean to put all Americans (or cindi) in one category. There are fantastic Americans here who do all that they can to change this. Kudos to them. But as a whole, on average, Americans lag behind incredibly in this department. As noted above, they're far more ignorant of all that is going on compared to people who have fewer resources, and often live under the cloud of heavy censorship.

I mentioned the amnesia of the public. It's really so simple. It's not as if the folks in those countries sit down and memorize facts to be more informed. We all know the sports fan who, years later, can quote statistics of his favorite teams. He never sat down to memorize them. He knows them simply because he cared about them. This forced him to think about it often. The brain automatically did the rest. No real effort.

The amnesia of the public is the biggest evidence of this lack of caring on their part. If they cared, they wouldn't forget previous government atrocities.
The previous comment was mine...
Human nature..the US won't withdraw from Iraq because of concern for dead Iraqis it will withdraw because of concern for dead US soldiers. Thats the way War has always been fought. Iraqi insurgents conversely know there job is not to win but to make the price of winningunacceptable for the US.
I hate it when people just scoop all American's up and place them in a "I love Bush & let's kill the Iraqi's" box. It's no different from the perception that all Muslims are terrorists which again is wrong.

The same as you are not a terrorist, I am not a war loving girl who pats cowboy Bush on the back for a job well done. I don't agree with the war, I don't like Bush and I really feel sorry for all the innocent Iraqi people who suffer and die daily.

However, the only thing I can do as a citizen is VOTE. Which I did. Or to voice my opinion to higher authorities which I also do. Pretty much our government does whatever the hell it wants. Regardless of what the people say. The only chance we get to change anything comes every four years when we can get a new president.

I have no idea why people voted for Bush again. I will never understand it. All I can do is hope our next president is a peace loving person who has bigger things on his mind than gas wars or bumping his spurs on the ground in a fit of defending his father's legacy.

Nonetheless, it's not fair to just say we all don't care. A lot do, but that chain of command is really out of our control after the election. I don't care what anyone says. Voting for president is all the American citizen can do and if your guy isn't elected, you just have to live with the consequences. I just wanted to say that there are a lot of American's out there who care. I do.
Thanks Sobia! I have not condoned the way the government of the United States has handled Afghanistan or Iraq or the "War of Terror"--by the way I HATE that vague title as it's just a way to keep barreling into countries and throwing US weight around. Like Sobia said the only say we have in government is to vote and there are times (like when Bush was elected and re-elected) that I wonder what people thought THEY were voting for! I disagree with the idea that Americans don't care, unfortunately our news is often biased (such as Fox) so we only hear things the way they want us to hear them so if we seem as though we aren't reacting that may be why...at least until we find out the real story. I personally feel we don't belong in Iraq, that Bush went there because he needed to finish what his father couldn't or wouldn't. AFghanistan, well, something needed to be done there as well but not so sure what we (being the US government)have done is what's right for those people. Some of us do what we can without being asked.....we see a need and we do what we are able to by volunteering or financially. I also hate it when Americans are thrown into one big group and labeled.....we are such a diverse group of people with so many cultures, beliefs, ways of life that it just really is inaccurate to do this. I can't say "oh all Muslims are this way" for the same reason. Stereotypes are dangerous.

{One of the most inane questions Americans have asked is, "Why do they hate us?".} Why do YOU hate us? We don't always find the answers for the reason I mentioned...biased news reporting. Why is it up to the United States to bail everyone suffering out of their crisis? We have problems of our own too and I'm ashamed to say our government botches that job as well.

This brings to mind an email I just got from someone today.. To Kill an American

You probably missed it in the rush of news last week, but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American.

So an Australian dentist wrote an editorial the following day to let everyone know what an American is . So they would know when they found one. (Good one, mate!!!!)

"An American is English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. An American may also be Canadian, Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani or Afghan.

An American may also be a Comanche, Cherokee, Osage, Blackfoot, Navaho, Apache, Seminole or one of the many other tribes known as native Americans.

An American is Christian, or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim.
In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan. The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them chooses.

An American is also free to believe in no religion. For that he will answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.

An American lives in the most prosperous land in the history of the world,The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence , which recognizes the God given right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.

An American is generous. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return.

When Afghanistan was over-run by the Soviet army 20 years ago, Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country!

As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan . Americans welcome the best of everything...the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best services. But they also welcome the least.

The national symbol of America, The Statue of Liberty , welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed. These in fact are the people who built America.

Some of them were working in the Twin Towers the morning of September 11, 2001 earning a better life for their families. It's been told that the World Trade Center victims were from at least 30 different countries, cultures, and first languages, including those that aided and abetted the terrorists.
So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler did. So did General Tojo, and Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung, and other blood-thirsty tyrants in the world. But, in doing so you would just be killing yourself. Because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is an American.

I digress from the whole subject of the initial post by Dr. Pak. What happened to this girl and her family was wrong, it is an outrage and yes, MOST Americans would agree with me! We don't tolerate this behaviour in our own country you can bet we don't condone a soldier behaving this way.

I'm proud I'm an American but I'm not always proud of the way our government/leaders behave nor those who are supposed to be representing us in other countries. Please do not group us together!
Cindi that was a really great post.

What that Green guy did was horrible...but it happened b/c he was a bad person, not because he was an American. Someone's citizenship can't make them do horrible things like that. That was a personal choice and what a terrible terrible thing he did. He is a miserable, wretched person and will have to answer to God for his deeds..as will we all.
Oh, and I checked all the media channels today and not one of them I saw mentioned this story. I googled it and it showed up. Seriously, we just don't know that these things happen. I was in serious shock when I watched the news in London and Lahore. I couldn't believe what all they said. I thought probably they had it all wrong..found out later that everything they mentioned had infact happened. So, please believe that the average american really doesn't know what's going on..not from being just an idiot, but from not being informed.
Sobia, if you're responding to my comment, then please understand that I don't lump all Americans in to one category.

As a group, Americans are one of the nicest people I've met who truly intend no harm. My criticism is that most of them are apathetic to what goes on elsewhere, and end up unintentionally being part of the problem.

In fact, much of my awareness about all the wrongdoings of the US government came from well informed Americans, not from people from abroad.

"However, the only thing I can do as a citizen is VOTE. Which I did. Or to voice my opinion to higher authorities which I also do."

Then you are already doing a lot.

Speaking of voting, the biggest problem with the system is the insistence by almost everyone on voting either Republican or Democrat. There are other choices, and often better ones. By the very definition, a democracy is supposed to be representative of the people. The US has a great diaspora of people, and of political views. It's silly to then clump them all into only two political viewpoints.

There are, however, other things that people can do:

1) Inform others of these issues via letters to media, etc.
2) Make use of public resources such as NPR and PBS. These are YOUR stations, not those of any commercial establishment. They are usually far less biased than the commercial stations. I'm fortunate enough to live in a town where both the NPR and PBS station is well run, and often promotes the alternative views.
3) Try to get good programming such as Democracy Now or Alternative Radio to these stations, or to your cable company's public access stations.
4) Don't believe politicians or the mass media at face value.
5) Avoid the plague of the amnesia. Many know what happened in the 2000 elections. And almost none cared about it in 2004. They actually had to do it secretly in 2000, whereas they were more open in 2004. It was more widely reported in 2004. Yet few bothered to check and see if progress had been made since 2000 (it hadn't, and it had gotten worse). The same dirty tricks were used.
6) Put pressure on the big media sources - especially the TV stations.

Now obviously everyone can't do all of the above. It seems you already are doing something, which is good.

"Nonetheless, it's not fair to just say we all don't care."

The majority don't. If they did, at least they'd have the decency to know what is going on - even if they don't DO anything about it. My note on the elections is a case in point. Very few people I know were informed about the 2004 issues. Simply because they didn't bother to look. The information was all available to them in the open. They knew what happened in 2000, and were unhappy about it. Couldn't they at least check if it was happening again?

"I don't care what anyone says. Voting for president is all the American citizen can do and if your guy isn't elected, you just have to live with the consequences."

They can vote for much more than their president. What about local politics? State politics? How about electing congressmen? The president doesn't act alone in his actions. He often needs approval of Congress. A great president isn't much good with a messed up Congress.

Having a defeatist attitude is never a solution. Think of people who live under despotic regimes. If they have hope, then why don't you?
First off, I'm not putting everyone into one box.

I disagree with the idea that Americans don't care, unfortunately our news is often biased (such as Fox) so we only hear things the way they want us to hear them so if we seem as though we aren't reacting that may be why...at least until we find out the real story.

My question is: Why wait till the "real" story is handed to you? Yes, I know Fox and other networks are full of non-news. The average American does not get much useful information from them.

But is, "Fox, CNN, et. al. is feeding me lies." an excuse for ignorance? No. If someone is truly concerned, and knows he's being fed nonsense, he should go and find alternatives. Not complain about the state of the media.

All my comments here are not about Green. I don't know much about his story. I can believe, as Sobia says, that he's just a sick person and acted alone. I'm not saying this is characteristic of Americans.
I still think you have some idealistic view of democracy. What we say once the big man is elected really doesn't matter. Take Bush for example. His approval rating is the lowest a president has ever had..he knows we are pissed..but does he stop? No. I can write a million letters, make a million phone calls and it wouldn't matter. I can even be informed by buying different tv channels, but the truth of the matter is that our government does whatever it wants. Voting in local elections and things only changes the city you live in, it really has no effect on war decisions or really anything of significant importance. The only thing we have control over is who we elect for Pres. The only thing I can figure out is that American's were afraid to switch presidents during a war. I don't think historically it's ever been done, but I can't say for sure. And for the record, my Dad's a politician and an honest one. anyway, my point is that even though we live in a democracy, the only control we have over our government is with the vote. After that, there isn't jack we can do about it.
Voting in local elections and things only changes the city you live in, it really has no effect on war decisions or really anything of significant importance.

The US couldn't go to war without the approval of Congress. Who chooses the members of Congress?

The president's powers are limited.

I could repeat what I've already said, but it would be pointless. Instead, I suggest you compare with Canada and the UK, and see how things work there. Granted, Blair got re-elected, but both countries have a very good independent press that makes life difficult for the politicians. The US does not. Try and see why that is.

This isn't an issue of corrupt politicians. It's about money, and the willingness of the public to allow for a centralized media. The press is better there, not because of some good fortune, but because the public won't accept it to be otherwise.
Bush does a lot of things without Congress's approval and they find out about it later and then declare it unconstitutional. I'm not sure, but I think that this whole phone tapping thing was one thing he snuck off and did...anyway, I hear you on a lot of things, I just wanted to make it clear that a lot of times we just feel helpless..and also this story is finally on the news here.
Dr. Paki:

When evil such as this monstrous crime is perpetrated upon innocent civilians by US (or other) troops in this war, most Americans are outraged and sickened. Yes, most of us have now learned the story. The criminals will probably get the death penalty.

I doubt the Bush administration ever thought that the incursion into Iraq would turn out as badly as it now seems. We who want progress and civilization for all humanity can but pray for the best and make bonds with each other. Your excellent blog is helpful for this. You are a gifted writer. Peace and blessing be upon you.
People have been charged. There is an agreement between the U.S. and Iraq that the soldiers (yes, the liberators of Iraq -- what, you prefer saddam? Fine by me.) are immune to prosecution by Iraq. That means they will be prosecuted in the appropriate fashion.

Green, the one charged in the U.S. is being dealt with in federal court. He can very well face the death penalty for this if he's found guilty.

The others? They will face charges and prosecution in the appropriate jurisdiction.

This is the agreement between the U.S. and Iraq. We'll stand by our agreement, so will Iraq. Nobody is escaping prosecution and justice here.
AFAIK, Steven Green had been kicked out of the army for sociopathic personality disorder BEFORE the vicious crimes were revealed by conscience plagued comrades in arms they had told. So Green was not a soldier when the crimes came to light and cannot be tried in a military court.
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Recent med school graduate from Peshawar, Pakistan. Started blogging when in throes of final year exams. Currently studying for USMLE Step 1. Aiming for the 2008 Match. I blog about my studies, my worries, and my thoughts on life. I live in Islamabad.

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