Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Here's an interesting comment from John Burns, a reporter for the New York Times in Iraq about how we look at the country compared to how the Iraqis see it:

JOHN BURNS: Yes. And I'll tell you something else. That was another of the inspiriting aspects of our experiences yesterday, and a reproving one, if you will. How many times did voters say to me -- and I believe to many other reporters who began their interviews with them by asking them, as we so often do, are you Shiite, are you Sunni or are you Kurd -- they would say to us, what is that to you? Why are you people so obsessed with that?

I must have heard that several dozen times yesterday -- people who said, can't you get it straight in your mind that we are Iraqis first, and then Sunnis or Shiites second? And this is really very interesting. There is a sense amongst Iraqis that Americans arrived here with an obsession about the ethnic breakdown of this country.

Apparently our obsession with ethnicity in the US has colored (no pun intended) how we see other countries. Not that there isn't consideration of religion in Iraq, but maybe it isn't as big a deal as we've made it out to be. Maybe there is more nationalism than we thought.


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