Friday, September 09, 2005

Exporting homophobia to Iraq

The following is a letter from a soldier stationed in Iraq to the editor of Stars and Stripes, the American military newspaper.

Iraqi behavior questioned

I’ve been on Forward Operating Base Warrior [for] nine months, and since we’ve been here I’ve seen Iraqi soldiers get away with way more than they should. I’ve seen them with cameras in the chow hall taking pictures. And I know that it’s custom for them to be affectionate with each other, however I don’t think it’s appropriate for them to kiss each other or hold hands. In a don’t-ask, don’t-tell military, there are lots of customs we have to leave at home, so I think it’s only right that they do, too.

As for the cameras, that’s just simple security precautions and the people I talk to say they have passed security, so they’re fine.

I just want it known how some soldiers feel about what’s going on right under our noses. This is only one base in Iraq. What’s going on elsewhere?

Spc. xxxx xxxx
Forward Operating Base Warrior, Iraq

Let me get this straight. You are in their country. You want them to leave their customs at home. But that is their home. What exactly are you saying anyways? Maybe, since you are in their country how about you follow their customs and start kissing and fondling your fellow soldiers? Just so the Iraqis feel comfortable with you? And did it ever occur to you that maybe holding hands and kissing in their culture doesn't necessarily signify homosexuality?

I didn't know that along with democracy, the US is exporting homophobia to Iraq as well. This really makes me wish that before the US government sends it's men out to do battle in a foreign nation, or as they call it nowadays, to spread democracy in the world, it would take a minute and educate these soldiers about the culture of the country they are being sent to. Otherwise, they could just end up doing more harm than good.

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