War News Radio

Yesterday, a young woman walked into my store in Brooklyn.  She browsed a bit and we chatted.  As is usual these days, the subject of the war in Iraq and the London bombing came up.

She told me that she is involved in a web-radio weekly half-hour broadcast called War News Radio, a program that, according to its website:

fills the gaps in the media’s coverage of the war in Iraq by airing new voices and perspectives, both personal and historical, in a balanced and in-depth manner.

In turn, I told her something about dKos and BoomanTribune (she was aware of dKos, but didn’t realize–I think–the extent of it).  Then, I promised to listen to the show and, if it were good, tell others about it.
When I listened, I discovered that her name is Amelia Templeton (she’d told me the Amelia part), one of the hosts of the show–and I am glad I listened.  The show is a Swarthmore College (in Pennsylvania) project and I assume that Templeton is either a student there or a recent graduate.

This week’s show included a piece on the American Friends Service Committee’s Eyes Wide Open project featuring quick reaction interviews with viewers of the rows of boots and shoes that symbolize the American military and Iraqi deaths in the war.  This was followed by a review of a number of new books about Iraq that slyly parodied the standard “beach book” reviews that are ubiquitous elsewhere, these days.

What made the show most interesting, however, were the following three segments.  All of them were meant to help show Americans that Iraqis have lives that go on, no matter the conflict–that Iraqis, to use the cliche, “are people, too.”  The first of these informed about summer weather in Iraq and the sartorial problems it brings, both for American soldiers and Iraqi civilians.  The second told me about Iraqi vacationers–how many are finding their options out of the country limited (other countries are worried they will claim refugee status) but are still enjoying vacations in Jordan and Egypt.  I also learned that the Kurdish highlands have always been a favorite in-country destination, but that, now, even though it is relatively safe, there, rooms are hard to get because the government holds many of its meetings there.  The third story provided a short history of the religious divisions that plague Iraq and much of the Middle East.

I’m glad Amelia walked into my store.  It’s important, especially now, for people to be talking face-to-face about Iraq.  We can’t shy away just because it’s an emotional issue.  We both recognized that and were able to engage in discussion–and our connection will, I am sure, give me the courage to bring up the war even more often in the future.

Also, I’m happy to learn about her program and will listen in the future.  One of the greatest problems we face is our tendency to vilify–and many Americans have vilified almost all Iraqis (even though they know that the insurgents are a small part of the population).  This show brings the Iraqis back into a proper, human perspective.

It’s projects like War News Radio that give me hope that, for all the continued bombast and chest-thumping that surrounds us, Americans are beginning to learn that the path we have chosen is nothing more than a new trail of tears.

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