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Bill Moyers Rewind: Lori Grinker Photo Essay

This week, Bill Moyers interviews Lori Grinker about her most recent photo show, Iraq: Scars and Exile, which is closing this week at the Naiyla Alexander Gallery. Her exhibition documents the physical and emotional wounds inflicted on Iraqis from the ongoing war in Iraq.

Lori Grinker's photo series AFTER WAR, which explored the brutal effects of war, was featured on NOW WITH BILL MOYERS in 2002.

Otis, photo by Lori Grinker

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Dear Mr. Moyer:
I watched your interview with Rev. Samuel Rodriguez concerning the Hispanic evangelical voters in the 2008 election from the following website:

I found the interview revealing because I did not know that Hispanic evangelicals represented such a large group of voters 15 million strong. I was also surprised to learn that 44% of Hispanic voters voted for Bush in the 2004 election; since minorities historically vote democrat. I agree that Hispanic voters could be the deciding factor in the 2008 election.

I think that when Mr. Rodriguez describes the Republican Party as being Xenophobic he is a little misled on the issue. Everyone would agree that our nation is made up of immigrants but border protection is important and we can’t have people immigrating illegally and sucking the system dry. No one has problems with legal immigration and it is very easy to legally immigrate to the United States. The Republican Party is just upholding the laws by making people legally enter this country. We do need immigration to this country to take jobs and help us grow as a nation; but legally.

Mr. Rodriguez talks about how the white evangelists are xenophobic and that we should all be unified but he keeps on attacking white evangelists. He then goes on to say that the cross is a symbol of unity. Why does he bring up unity when he keeps on segregating white evangelists and speaks of how xenophobic they are.

In conclusion I agree with Mr. Rodriguez when he says that Hispanics are going to make the difference in this election. I disagree with Mr. Rodriguez in his assertions that North Americans are Xenophobic and too American (not Christian enough). Being an American citizen is easy to do legally and it has nothing to do with being more accepting and “Christian”, it has to do with obeying the law.

How does one go about sponsoring an Iraqi family to come to the United States? It seems to me that whether you support the war or not that we should not allow these innocent victims to suffer any longer. Where is our outrage over their treatment? Where is our compassion so that they will at least no longer be refugees?

Here is my comment on Lori Grinker's photography of Iraqi refugees.
The loss of life, the disfigurement and the reduced and terrorized circumstances evoke pity from some and only voyeurism from others. It does not win my sympathy that some suffer because they assisted our illegal and horrific invasion and occupation as an employment. In a way they can be likened to the hungry and ill informed scabs who assist exploiters by breaking a strike.
I do not want my neighborhood decimated like theirs but fear it could happen if our government continues its crimes and deceptions. You see, I believe our government (elite and covert) was complicitous in 9/11 and that there are several reasons our Mideast wars are crimes with all that implies. The reason was probably Peak Oil and diminishing returns to our wealthy class.
The United States has long cast a lenghty shadow in the world. We called Mexico corrupt, but it was the shadow of our Wall Street greed that put them in darkness. We called Africa ignorant, but it was our ignorant greed for raw materials that kept them stupid. We called Arabs violent, but we brought a violence and heartlessness to bear that dwarfed anything they could muster. We call China exploitive, but it is our mindless consumption and greedy off-shoring that has caused their wage slavery. It is even our mindless lust which drives sex tours, sex slavery and the porn industry. Our long, wide shadow is starving the world for truth.
There is no reason our poison should not come back to us in violent mercenaries, drug addiction,repressive government,hunger and energy starvation, This is one world, and I doubt our feeble and exhausted military can tame much of it, doubt that a Chinese Wall concept can seal our borders, doubt that we can ever get learning up to speed now that we are dumbed down, doubt that the monsters responsible will ever be tried or punished. About the time you pour that ethanol in your scooter, you'll be too starved to ride. And about the time that Internet juice begins to flow from your new solar panel the sky will go dark. It's not the rapture, not Jesus angry we haven't completely used up creation. It's only the end of civilization because America waited too late to change her ways.
P.S. Lori Grinker: You have a nice camera. Take some horror shots at home and save the jet fuel. Photograph the injustice which casts its deadly shadow abroad. We are ugly too.

The perpetrators of the violence in the photos of Ms. Grinker were militia and/or Islamic extremists. To conflate that (intrchangeably) with "the war" is political spin at best and dishonesty at worst. Let the US own up to its own attrocities at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, but have a meaningful discussion about who these militia and terrorists are and why they do this kind of violence (rape, torture, etc... )

I agree Bernard. The U.S. should never have attacked Iraq. We invaded under false justification. Now we are faced with this terrible situation that our government couldn't or wouldn't forsee.

Still the story was about people injured in Iraq who were not "collateral damage} - they were the targets. Specifically, a suicide bomber blew up a tanker truck full of gasoline with the intention of killing and horribly injuring as many people as possible. This is terrorism. I don't know if it would stop if the U.S. left.

It is an atrocity when two female suicide bombers go (or are sent) to a pet market on a day when school is out to kill as many children as possible - the count was 93 I think - that included lots of little kids who wanted to see the animals and birds.

You're right Bernard it does matter who does this. Who would do this? It's diabolical and no cause can justify this. It has no purpose other than making people terrified. The U.S. is totally at fault for its blunders and its cruelty in cases like Abu Graib and atrocities like the rape of a 14 year-old and the murder of her family. The U.S. had no business in Iraq, but the people in the video were not collateral damage - they were the intended targets of terrorists.

I agree with Rheba in that the identity of the attackers is irrelevant and misses the point. The identity is the Iraq War itself and the forces that set it loose. Those of us who stood up against this war from the start realized, from some basic understanding of the region's history, ethnic and religious makeup, that a tragic aftermath was likely. America needs Jacoby's wisdom to avoid further entanglements such as Iraq.

is there a way to express what the suffering in Iraq and Afghanistan will mean for the future of the world? The ripples that go forth will not be stopped, even for generations past a time when this torture we call war is at an end.

I am reminded of a simple statement from Albert Camus:

It is better to suffer certain injustices than to commit them even to win wars, and that such deeds do us more harm than a hundred forces on the enemy's side.

Robert Litfin @ 04:57-- go here for information on Iraqi refugees and scroll down to see how very little the US and the State Department have done to help the victims of this horror we created.

Thank you Bill and Lori for exposing this sad truth. I look forward (with trepidation and shame) to your show next week and am grateful that your attention will be focused on Afghanistan-- the mostly forgotten land, people and their abject misery.

I agree with BJ's sentiment that we should honor those Iraquis who helped the Coalition postwar by granting residence here.

BJ, which two countries took in more refugees than US, and how many have we accepted here? Where can I get such data in future?

Other countries have taken in many more Iraqi refugees than the U.S. has. Of course, it would be embarrassing to the Bush Administration to admit they created so many refugees in the first place.

I was struck by the malevolence of those attacks,probably hundreds and hundreds of them.

What was the purpose behind the rapes and mutilations? Profit? I've heard some Iraqis are making fortunes. Can you give us a report on this, Bill?

Does Ms. Grinker's exhibit include the mass graves of the Saddam period also?

Couldn't we just find another Iranian or Iraqi "strong man" to dictate to the Iraqis, cease and desist all our Democracy holy war, and just bail out?

Or are there enough non-thugs there to be worth their pain? "No pain no gain" I know is trite, but...

And finally -- those dinky quarters for the one poor family: were there Iraquis living there previously i wondered, or was it just built postwar?

I hope to examine her book to satisfy these questions.

The identity of the attackers is irrelevant, isn't it? Did these attacks occur before America invaded the country? Isn't it possible that the CIA is promoting these attacks to justify continued American presence--after all, it's about the 129 permanent military bases, isn't it? How can anyone be so indifferent to this needless suffering?

We all need to be seeing these images, hearing these stories, and feeling some of these feelings - even for a brief time, so that we may understand what War does to people.

If these images and stories were to be shown by the mainstream media on a consistent basis, then we would put an end to it. That simple. The answer to violence is not more violence. If we really wanted peace in that country or our own, we would choose peace and work towards it.

Lori, you are a brave woman who is doing much for our country. Thank you for being the courageous young woman you are. It must feel good to know that you have a purpose in life, and you are fulfilling it. Bless you for going there..

-Oakland, CA

In the interview with Lori Grinker, both Bill Moyers and his guest failed to inform the audience of the composition of the militia people who so brutally attacked residents of Iraq (also of some undisclosed ethnic or religious affiliation) Were the attackers Sunnis or were they Shiites? In so doing he was ignoring the conversations with his other guests who stressed the importance of information in order to obtain sufficient understanding of the situation and history. The listener simply had to know why were Iraquis killing other Iraquis? Who were the victims and why were they victims?

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