I know nothing about racism.
Today, I listened to D-Dog, our cook, relate the story of her recent trip to Baghdad to Janie. I heard her say that all of the Arabs are dirty and that she feared for her life the whole time she was there. Janie tried to assure her that, in fact, all the Arabs are not dirty.
But what does Janie know? Like me, Janie grew up learning about pluralism and stereotyping, so we know that there's no possible way that ever member of any group can possibly fit all the stereotypes associated with the group; all Arabs can't possibly be terrorist. The facts back us up on this point.
But how much do the facts matter if you are targeted for murder or worse just because you're Kurdish? How would I feel if I went to Baghdad? And I were Kurdish? And old? And had no choice but to go to the center of Hell just to take my mother to the hospital?
Northern Iraq is being flooded with Arab refugees. The Kurds are very hospitable, but behind closed doors they whisper about the Arabs. They distrust them and warn us to avoid them lest we be kidnapped by one of them. Kurdish television runs heart-wrenching PSAs reminding us all of the situation of the Arabs in the south and compelling us to be accepting of them as they flee the violence.
But these are the people that have been murdering the Kurds for hundreds of years. These are the people who burned down Kurdish villages and forced the Kurds into the mountains. These are the people that murdered 5000 people in a single day in Halabja. These are the people that have always treated the Kurds like second-class citizens belittling them and strangling their economy. These are the people that have laid waste to Baghdad and Mosul and Kirkuk. These are the people that packed a truck bomb under blocks of ice to ensure that their bomb infused with nails didn't explode into the sky, but rather killed as many Kurds as possible last month. These are the people that killed almost 100 people in Kirkuk just a few days ago.
And now, here they are. Living among the Kurds, looking for jobs, relying on the Kurds for their future.
No, it's not the same people. Of course, I know that. I know the difference between Arabs and insurgents. But I also know that if a bomb ever explodes in my city, if hundreds of Kurds die, it won't be from a Kurdish bomber. It'll be an Arab.
But, even knowing that, I am uncomfortable when the Kurds point to an Arab and whisper “Pise.” I shake my head and say, no, they're not dirty. When a certain friend rails against the Arabs and the Muslims, I remind him that Jesus tells us to love our enemies.
Today, I heard that tattoos are all the rage in Baghdad and Kirkuk. It seemed like a very un-Muslim thing to do, so I was surprised and I started to make a joke about it, but then Cory told the rest of the story. It's so families can identify bodies.
People are getting tattoos so their mothers can find their bodies after a suicide bomb attack.
And still they must forgive.
I know nothing about forgiveness, either.