InterActivist.com has a really insightful interview with Spc. Aidan Delgado, a conscientious objector who spent six months of a one-year tour of Iraq at Abu Ghraib prison. An excerpt:
Q. How did the post-9/11 increase in racism affect the army?I guess it must've come as a big disappointment when, contrary to White House predictions, US soldiers were not in fact greeted as liberators by the people of Iraq. We're going to be living with the fallout from this for decades.
Delgado: This is really key to understanding the Iraq conflict. There is so much anti-Arab sentiment in America after September 11, and we don’t want to talk about it or think about it. I don’t think the soldiers knew any words for the Iraqis besides “haji,” which is a term like “Charlie” or “gook” for the 21st Century. There is such disdain for them as individuals and as prisoners.
I think racism is a key motivating factor in the war. We witnessed a Marine kick a 6-year-old child in the chest for bothering him about food and water. People in my unit used to break bottles over Iraqi civilians’ heads as they drove by in their Humvees. A senior enlisted man in my unit lashed Iraqi children with a steel antenna because they were bothering him.
The only way people can do these sorts of things—which would never be acceptable in America—is the notion that Iraqis are somehow related to terrorists and 9/11. We completely dehumanize them. I used to come into conflict with other members of my unit who were doing these things, and tell them it was wrong. It made me really unpopular, the radical notion that you should treat Arabs or Iraqis as human beings.
(via Suburban Guerrilla)