Sunday, January 08, 2006

Shared Dreams and Nightmares

While we are on the subject of human rights blogging, I have to commend the New York Times for their experiment that includes Iraqi bloggers in their Op-Ed columns this month. When so many blogs by Iraqis are being coopted for political purposes by huge mega-blogs from either the right or the left, it is again refreshing to read first-person accounts by citizen-journalists, such as those by early innovators Salam Pax and Riverbend, whose work is now published in print.

For example, yesterday's NYT column, "Nightmares in Baghdad," describes how average Iraqis are suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome.

"I have been experiencing these nightmares since 2003. I have gone through all the available scenarios and have been killed dozens of times — by air strikes, car bombs, roadside bombs, random bullets, mortars, celebratory shootings and drive-by shootings. I’ve been tortured by both Americans and Iraqis at Abu Ghraib and in the Ministry of Interior’s cellars. I’ve been carjacked, kidnapped for ransom and beheaded by Arab Jihadis. I’ve witnessed several members of my family killed in front of my eyes. And I’ve lost count of the times I was mistakenly shot by American soldiers or foreign contractors. During my childhood, I remember dreaming of haunted houses, ghosts, vampires, zombies or goblins; I wish I could dream of these things now."

These blogs give the reader a sense of immediacy within the global Internet. It reminds me of reading posts from international members of the Poetics Listserv in the 90's and encountering first-person acounts from people coping with war in the former Yugoslavia. These e-mails about burning furniture and books, rapes of friends and neighbors, and sitting in bomb shelters for hours made conflict in the Balkans part of my daily digital experience.

Also of note, many Iraqi blogs use the Blogspot server and software, as this site does.

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