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March 08, 1991 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-03-08
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A1ale of Twb Cities

Driving Out the* Little tvil Ones

Iraq as I knew it

by Farah Arabo
I can remember the smell of
the freshly baked bread in the
morning and the persistent
honking of horns throughout the
night. It seems like only
yesterday that I had gone to visit
Fo reign
* ,- -V
A special feature Intended to
provide students the
opportunity to share
accounts of their travels
my relatives in that far away land,
a land embodied with culture and
historic treasures, festivals and
times of joy. It seems like only
yesterday that I had visited the
homeland of my parents and the
generations before them. It seems
like only yesterday that I was in
In Baghdad, my cousins and I
shopped the outdoor markets and
roamed the streets where people
would spend their spare time to
see what new styles the jewelers
were handcrafting that week. I
noticed that many of the new
styles were influenced by jewelry
created in India, Northern Africa,
and Eastern Europe. Just as the
styles varied, so did each jeweler's
taste in music. We frequently
heard traditional Middle Eastern
music in one open store, while at
the same time, we heard the
dancing beat of Michael Jackson's
"Thriller" at another. I was
surprised at the diversity of
culture and the promotion of
popular styles and tunes in the
heart of the city. It became
routine to come across posters of
successful Top 40 artists like
George Michael and Madonna
draping the small huts that made
up this Middle Eastern shopper's
Farah Arabo is an LSA senior who
has visited Iraq seven times. Weekend
will consider submissions for Foreign
Focus from al/students wish to share
their experiences whie travelling or
living abroad.

Not only would I now hear
western music, but I began to see
average citizens wearing Levi's
and driving Chevrolets. My
cousins were among those average
citizens. They would beg me to
fill them in on the latest trends
sweeping the Western
hemisphere. In turn, they shared
this knowledge with friends and
Whenever we visited, my
sister and I took turns spending
nights at our relatives' homes,
going from one to the other. It
was always a real treat to stay
overnight because in the morning
we would have a traditional
breakfast of richly flavored Arabic
tea and a buttermilk spreading
called gaemar which is eaten with
honey or date-spread on fresh
bread purchased down the street.
On one of my many trips to
Baghdad, we traveled to the
ancient city of Babylon, where
3,000-year-old ruins are all that
remain from what was once
among the mightiest cities in the
world. Many structures are still
standing, while others are being
reconstructed. I was enthralled by
the ancient inscriptions
embedded in the stone wall. As
my cousins walked as if they were
only walking down a street they

Her question was not an unusual
Upon leaving Babylon, I
begged my family to stop by the
Euphrates river, known to the
entire world as one of two rivers
surrounding "the cradle of
civilization," which I knew was
not to far from the site. One of the
most exciting and breathtaking
views which I was fortunate
enough to experience was
standing within feet of the
Euphrates. Only a couple
hundred feet across the flowing
river there stood thousands of
date palm trees. With their large,
thick trunks and swaying palm
leaves, they made for a
spectacular rest stop.
We visited museums with
artifacts dating back to the
Mesopotamian era, and saw
beautiful churches and mosques
that captured the essence of the
city's history. Baghdad is filled
with large monuments and arches
that symbolize the history of the
On one particular afternoon, I
noticed that masses of people had
gathered at a nearby building.
When I asked what was going on,
my cousins told me I was in for a
treat. We were going to the
cinema where "Crocodile

Kerry Thornley, high priest of
the Discordian Society, has
pointed out that there are 100
million Hindus that have never
heard of the United States of
* America. "Can that many
people," he asks, "be wrong
about anything?"
I tend to agree. After all, I've
never seen any "United States,"
and I live here. All I see is people
and things. Some of the people
JESSE who have more things like to act
WALKER.. on behalf of "the United States,"
which is fine by me, except that
their imaginary friend seems largely intent upon doing
things of which I disapprove. I have long puzzled over why
these people behave in this manner. Only recently,
however, has an answer suggested itself.
You see, according to Reason magazine, the government
of Saudi Arabia has banned whistling in the home, on the
grounds that it might "summon the little evil ones." It is
evident that the government of Iraq made a very serious
mistake by not passing similar legislation. Saddam
Hussein, of course, blames the devastation wrought upon
his country on something called "the United States," but
the people of Iraq know better. Hundreds of thousands of

them are dead, more are dying each day of disease and
starvation, the entire infrastructure of their nation is in.
ruins, and the only evidence they have of "the United
States" is some reporter named Peter Arnett who keeps
wandering around, and he doesn't even have an American
Saddam has lied before. He's probably lying this time,
too. This isn't the work of "America" - there is no
America. This is the work of the little evil ones.
When you stop to think about it, this explanation
makes more sense. As I have written before, there really
wasn't any rational explanation for the Gulf War. And, in
the absence of a rational explanation, the best alternative
would appear to be an irrational explanation. Q.E.D.
In fact, the little evil ones are everywhere, if you know
where to look. All you need do is forget the ad hoc
explanations people come up with for the little ones'
mischief. Take "Marxism," for example. Around the
world, people have come to power on a program of putting
everything in the hands of the State and the State in the
hands of a small vanguard party. I for one find it difficult to
believe that people think the solution to the problem of a
small group of people controlling most of a nation's
resources is to turn the resources over to an even smaller
group of people. How could an ideology called "Marxism"
cause Communist revolution? A much more sensible
explanation would sound like this:

"Honey, look out9
"There's a bunch of
the Joneses to a re-educ
"Aaach! The little ev
This might not satis
it suits me fine. Some t
ones had snuck into the
government with anoth
simpler than that?
As a Scotsman migh
in, in the dead of night
steal our children from
camp. Ye drop balls of
off as 'bombs,' on citie:
Itsy bitsy evil ones."
So why laugh at the
at life there: women de
controlled by a feudal c
freedom of enterprise,
country has had experi
Arabia is it. And if they
by whistling in the hor
There's the solution
isn't somebody's imagi
little evil ones, just like
people are doing all so.
entity or another, all at
Well, no, not really.

AP Photo
The Norfolk-based battleship USS Wisconsin fired the first Tomahawk
cruise missile against Iraq and repeatedly used its guns against Iraqi
coastal positions in Kuwait. In this picture, the crew of the Wisconsin
practices using its devestating 16-inch guns.
The lull afrter
the storm


by Purvi Shah
The skies over Hampton
Roads were strangely silent
during Spring Break. In my
Virginia Beach home, I can
usually hear the regular roar of
F-15s as the military practices
routine maneuvers - but not last
With more than 40,000 men
and women from the area serving
in Operation Desert Storm, a
disturbing quiet pervades the
skies - and the community.
The Hampton Roads region is
a military haven, housing Langley
Air Force Base and the largest
naval facility in the world,
Norfolk Naval Base.
Currently the Persian Gulf is
home to 41 Norfolk-based ships,
including three carrier battle
groups. Near Dhahran, Saudi
Arabia, 900 military medics,
largely representing local
Portsmouth Naval Hospital,
reside in a tent facility.
While the war thundered in
the Middle East - a distant
nightmare for most observers - it
was a waking terror for Hampton
Roads residents, where personal
stakes were involved.
In Hampton Roads, the war
held everyday life as its hostage.
Listening to the weather report
on the local CBS station from the
dinner table, families heard a
captivating introduction:
'Remember while you watch the

weather reports, our troops are
weathering a Desert Storm.'
Even now, as families and
friends eagerly await the soldiers'
return, Operation Desert Storm
infiltrates daily life - the church,
the schools, and most
significantly, the home.
Though President Bush's
victory declaration was greeted
with jubilation and relief,
community members will be
content only when troops actually
arrive home safely. Based on
military reports, residents
estimate it will take at least two to
three months after a peaceful
settlement for ships to return.
The wait to see his father will
probably be even longer for 18-
year-old National Junior ROTC
Commanding Officer Damon
Anderson. Since Aug. 10,
Anderson's father, an operations
officer on a Landing Ship Tank,
has been in the Northern Gulf,
preparing to storm the Kuwaiti
"We're projecting (his return)
around next September, but
maybe as early as August or July,"
he commented in the emotionless
voice military family members
use when discussing loved ones in
The erratic mail delivery and
danger associated with the
mission made this cruise different
from routine Navy deployments.
Please see page 8

Continued from page 4
During my earlier visits to
Baghdad, we spent the clear and
beautiful summer nights sleeping
on the flat rooftops, underneath the
moonlight and galaxy of stars. Since
summer nights are so warm
indoors, it became intolerable
without air conditioning, and it was
therefore not unusual to find a
substantially large number of beds
on the rooftops of homes, another
practice to which I quickly and
willingly adapted. Unfortunately,
crime concerns became a reality
during the onset of the war with
Iran, and sleeping on the rooftops
became another unique quality of
the past.
There were other evenings
when we sat inside and our
relatives told horror stories of air
raid sirens blaring across the city
during the Iraq-Iran war to alert the
citizens that enemy warplanes were
approaching. They would run
frantically into their basements and
pray until the bombing stopped
and the sirens came to a wailing
end. These sirens looked like
orange fluorescent Goodyear
blimps flying high above the city.
As my visits progressed, so too
did the beauty of Baghdad. The
most dramatic change was the
creation of a new international
airport just outside the city. Large
arches which feasibly captured the
essence of Arab culture filled the
ceilings and hundreds of small light
bulbs within each arch gave one a
feeling of being in New York City.
Covered with white marble top
floors, it made for a beautiful
beginning of our trips. In all
likelihood, this massive and
exquisite airport was destroyed
during one of the Allied bombing
missions. Indeed, the tragedy of
war brings destruction of beautiful
It brings a lump to my throat to

reflect on those extra special
moments I shared with my cousins,
aunts and uncles. After having
visited them seven times, I realize
that even 70 would not have been
enough. Since the last week of
December, we have had no way of
establishing contact with my family
in Baghdad. Indeed, my family and
I have experienced some of the
most grueling and trying three
months ever.
Since all of the men of fighting
age were neededrecently, it is clear
that many of our relatives have
been drafted. What is not clear is
what has become of them. Since all
communications to and from Iraq
have been cut, it may be some time
before we know for sure.
As members of an Iraqi
Christian minority - the
Chaldaeans - my family and I are
particularly concerned by rumors
circulating of a full-scale Shiite
rebellion. The Shiites, the same
fundamentalist Muslim group
which rules Iran, are in the majority
and may soon control Iraq. This
would devestate to Iraq's Christian
community, since it may result in
the desecration of churches and the
demoralization of hundreds of
thousands of our people forced to
live under Shiite rule.
Concerned that the worst is yet
to come for the Iraqi civilians, we
anxiously wait for a phone call or
letter - anything to let us know
that they're doing as well as can be
expected in a country with neither
electricity nor running water,
where sewage is overflowing onto
the streets and threatening the
population with typhoid and
Seeing familiar sites now in
ruins was a new and unwanted
experience for us all. For weeks, as
we watched and read the news, we
recognized bridges that have been
there since my parents can
remember, now bombed and
useless. Some of the bombed areas

shown on television are only
minutes from our relatives' town.
I've been hoping and praying
that an inner strength will help the
innocent victims of the war to
prevail as they are confronted by
the arduous task of adjusting to a
new way of life, particularly one
that comes as a result of a
disruption which seems confusing
and needless to many.
I hope that there will be a day in
the near future when I can return
to spend time with my relatives,
immersed in the traditions of a
culture and unique way of life
whose identity had been born over
thousands of years ago.
From the ruins of Babylon to
the outdoor markets of Baghdad,
from the historic Euphrates River
to the fountains of the capital, I
found Iraq to be a country replete
with culture, tradition and beauty.
It saddens me to think that the Iraq
I knew no longer exists.



Photo by Farah Arabo
The War Memorial to the Unknown Soldier, located in dowtown

26 yeors o
Sponsored by Mihiga
Michigan Chefs De

Baghdad, commemorates those who1
Iran-Iraq War.
traversed everyday, my sister and
I walked in awe of ourI
surroundings. After all, we were
travelling where civilization had
been born.
As we toured the historic city,
we frequently came across people
who recognized us as not having
been from the area. "Where your
family from?" I was asked by a
young girl roaming the city.
"We've come from America" I
informed her. "Can I go back
with you?" she jokingly replied.

lost their lives during the eight-year
Dundee" was being shown. I
couldn't believe it. From the size
of the crowd, I thought the
Rolling Stones had come to town.
As we entered the old building, a
profound eagerness to see a
Western movie filled the
auditorium. As I sat and viewed
the movie, it was difficult not to
think that the ancient city of
Babylon was only a two-hour
drive away.
Please see page 9



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