Wednesday, November 14, 2007

HW 35: Dear Erica's Blog Readers: This is Not Goodbye...

Dear Readers:

What I have learned from maintaining my blog from the past 13 weeks is that it isn’t an easy task. There are so many people who write on their blogs everyday and keep them updated and they’re not even doing it for a class or getting paid. They are doing it because they have a cause or they want their voice to be heard. What I hope someone could get out of my blog is an understanding of what blogs are capable of for a participatory democracy. We all have to be informed citizens and the best way to do that is by keeping yourself up to date with the latest news and what people are talking about. The proudest work for me on my blog is, HW 18: The Diet and Fashion Industry are to Blame for Your Anorexia. I love this post because I talk about something that I’m very passionate about and it shows in my arguments. I think after this class is over I will maintain my blog but it will obviously have a different tone because I will be writing for myself and not be writing assignments. I have enjoyed learning how to use this new technology and it will, I’m sure impact my life in a positive way.

HW 34: What's Important to Riverbend

The role of gold in family savings in Iraq has changed since the beginning of the war. According to Riverbend who wrote Baghdad Burning, “Gold is a part of our culture and the role it plays in “family savings” has increased since 1990 when the Iraqi Dinar (which was $3) began fluctuating crazily. People began converting their money to gold-earrings, bracelets, necklaces-because the value of gold didn’t change. People pulled their money out of banks before the war, and bought gold instead” (100). What Riverbend is trying to stress is that gold is an important part of Iraq’s culture and now in these times of stress trying to hold onto their wealth in gold has been extremely hard.
Date palms are important to Iraqi people because they use them for so many different things. For example Riverbend points out, “Dates are also used to produce “dibiss,” a dark, smooth, date syrup. This dibiss is eaten in some areas with rice, and in others it is used as syrup with bread and butter. Often it is used as a main source of sugar in Iraqi sweets” (104). They are not only useful in material ways but the Iraqi people have taken to them as something they can be proud of and they stand for what the Iraqis believe in.

Monday, November 12, 2007

HW 32: Responding to Riverbend

Akila Al-Hashimi is a member of the Iraq counsel. In Riverbend's book Baghdad Burning Riverbend talks about her after there was an attempt on her life. She had been leaving to go to work with her bodyguards, her brothers, and two pickup trucks full of armed men cute her off and wounded her in the foot, shoulder, and the stomache. She was taken away in an American ambulance to somewhere no one knows where. Riverbend talks about how depressing it is because she felt like Al-Hashimi was one of the only decent members on the counsil. It also made her upset because it showed how no female is safe no matter how high up she is. She feels as though some were bitter towards her because she didn't wear a hijab and she was female (Riverbend 75-76).

HW 31: Responding to Riverbend

I would like to learn more about Ba'athists. In reading Baghdad Burning by Riverbend I came across this term on page 45 and it made me curious. What I have found out is that the Ba'athists are insurgents led by the former Saddam Hussein. What that has to do with the book is Riverbend is talking about an interview with Al-Jazeera and how he says in the interview that he feels the extremists, loyalists, terrorists, Ba'athists, and people from neighboring countries were responsible for the assasination of Al-Hakim. That made me question what Ba'athists were because I have heard the term before but didn't know what it meant. I found an article talking about Ba'athists but there isn't anything on wikipedia about them. the link is It is interesting that Scott Ridder of Alternet talks about what the Ba'athists have done in Iraq for example, "The chaos and anarchy that dominates the Iraqi domestic scene today is a direct result of the Canal Hotel bombing, and represents the underlying strategy of the Ba'athist insurgents, which is to create the conditions within Iraq where the Iraqi people have lost faith in the American occupier and their proxy Iraqi government to bring about peace and stability" (1).

Ridder, Scott. Alternet. 2006. 6 Mar.

Riverbend. Baghdad Burning. New York, NY: First Feminist Press, 2005

Sunday, November 11, 2007

HW 30: Citizenship Symposium

The first session I went to was, Iraq Body Count: Real People, Fake Numbers by Stephen J. Clark, Ph.D. He is an associate professor of psychology at Keene State College. The talk was about statistics and numbers and questioning what we read, see, and hear. He went through a few recent statistics going around in the media and pointed out certain questions we should ask about all statistics. For example, “Who created this statistic, why was this statistic created, and how was this statistic created?” What this meant for me was when I look at a given number I should always ask myself what their agenda is, and what is at stake. One of his points was made by a recent comment made by a politician supporting the war and he said that Iraq was nor more dangerous than our nations capital Washington D.C. What we realized after looking at the numbers more closely was that he was using the total deaths in a month in Iraq and the total numbers of deaths in a year from D.C. This only confirmed his theory that we all need to be active participants in our country and in doing so it is so important to be properly informed and to question everything.

The other session I went to was, Citizenship and Responsibility by Tom Lantos, U.S. representative and Holocaust survivor. He is the only Holocaust to ever serve in Congress and the only one who ever will. He came to America after WW II from Hungary with literally nothing. His theme for the talk was based on a quote from the new president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, “America did not teach men the idea of freedom she taught them how to practice it”. He spoke about freedom and democracy being a goal that we are continually trying to close the, “hypocrisy gap” on. In other words we have ideals and in the two or three hundred years of practicing these in America we are slowly getting there. His examples of our achievements included all the things we have done for Germany, France, and other foreign countries. We as a country are more attuned than any other country to accepting global responsibility and as such we have a responsibility. We also as citizens have a responsibility to deal with the issues in our country and while it might be tempting to hide from that, especially in these critical times we must be informed and active citizens of our country.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

HW 28: "An Open Letter to Riverbend"

Dear Riverbend,

After reading the first few of your blogs my heart broke for you, your family, and your country. I can only imagine what it must be like to have so much ripped away from you all at once. Not only do you have to worry about your life being taken, but quite literally it already has. Everything that you knew, your job, your liberty, your equality has been taken away so how much of a life does that really leave you? It is so easy for me and other Americans to sit back in the comfort of our same every day lives and to claim that we feel for you, but we really have no idea. I know there are some people in America who have had parallel experiences with everything being ripped away but we have always had the comfort of knowing that our country was seemingly indestructible, until recently that is. I can only offer you the comfort of knowing that your voice is being heard, even as far away as New England, we hear you.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

HW 27: Annotated Bib for Baghdad Burning

Riverbend. Baghdad Burning. New York, NY. The Feminist Press, 2005

This is a book comprised of blogs written by a young woman living in Iraq. She writes as frequently as she can and has a very smart and understanding view on the politics surrounding her. The book goes into her life and she takes you with her throughout her experiences with this war going on between America and Iraq. This book fits into our course perfectly because she is a woman who is blogging to make a difference not just for herself but for others as well. It is also very eye-opening to the politics of our country and how other people see our country. I’m sure there will be some in our course reading this who will take offense, but I will not be one of them. What I hope to get out of it is a clearer understanding of a first hand account of this war. It puts a face to a faceless bunch of people who are being victimized by this war.