Monday, October 29, 2007

Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.-Bertrand Russell

Ever since 9/11 we have heard stories of people being harassed, harmed, and treated less then human by weak minded Americans. Well, we now have this story of a man who fought Sadaam and his people, helped us, and yet after 9/11 was still treated as a possible terrorist.
Sayadi was an American-by-proxy before he ever set foot in this country. An officer in the Iraqi air force, he fought the Baathist regime from the inside, providing intelligence for the Kurdish revolution — and by extension for the CIA, which was supporting the struggle as part of its broader operations in the region.

It was dangerous work, and eventually rumors of Sayadi's disloyalty began to circulate. Having already seen family members killed in Kirkuk and others tortured — "they peel you like an onion," he told me recently — he fled the military and then Iraq altogether.

We have the story of a brave soul who put a great deal on the line to fight against something he saw as wrong. He helped us in a region that was quickly beginning to mistrust and hate us. We rewarded him, I guess, by re-locating him to North Dakota. Tired of the endless cold, he moved to the San Francisco area where he worked for Greyhound and then ended up at a factory that built Toyota and GM vehicles. Then the first Gulf War happened and he got his first taste of what Americans are.
First, a rechristening: co-workers began calling him "Ali Baba," he says. Another simply referred to him as "Kuwaiti." He shaved his mustache so as not to draw comparisons to Hussein. Sprinkled in with the insults were constant requests for tutorials on all things Iraqi — perhaps benign curiosity, perhaps a way of emphasizing his differentness.

"People were very thirsty for information about that area. And who knows about this? Ali Baba knows. They'd listen to the news at night, then come to work the next day and ask what Iraq is about, what Kuwait is, who Saddam is. I tried to enlighten them. I'm a symbol of that area," he says, adding with a laugh, "anyway, I knew my geography. I had every National Geographic that came out since I came to the U.S."
Then, things cooled down and things seemed to get better for this man, well, for a little while. Cause then 9/11 happened and of course we all know what happened to this once great country after that.
"Oh, NUMMI hires terrorists now?" was the sort of remark he says he heard commonly. His presence among co-workers invariably brought about mention of jihad or terrorism. One day, he was told by a superior that his lunchbox needed to be searched. When he asked why, he said he was led to believe he was considered a possible suicide bomber.

"I just opened the lunch box. I was dumbfounded. I was so shameful. I didn't know what to say. That was the point when I should have said something to the media — 'Look what happened to me.' But I was so ashamed. I thought, maybe he's right. I'm from (that region), I deserve this."
The irony here is not subtle: When Sayadi wasn't busy being accused of being a terrorist, he was out supporting the U.S. military and its invasion of Iraq. Even as the rest of the country began to lose faith in the war, this man being treated as a dangerous traitor held firm.

The worst had yet to come, he says. It was in spring of 2003 that President Bush had his famous "Mission Accomplished" moment aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, and Sayadi reports that NUMMI hosted its own celebration. He estimates that between 500 and 1,000 workers gathered in the plant's cafeteria for a rally over the seeming victory in Iraq — he himself had purchased a special American flag hat just for the occasion. A marching band played, various speakers gave remarks and in general "it was a very intense rally," he recalls. "But I didn't see more than five minutes of it."

Sayadi had just arrived when two security guards approached him. One put a finger on Sayadi's mouth, he remembers, the other held his hands behind his back; together they escorted him from the cafeteria.

"They took me to the boiler room just outside, and left me alone with this one big guy, big like a mountain. Very intimidating, very sadistic-looking with this toothpick in his mouth. I remember that look. It was like he'd eaten my meat and was now cleaning his teeth out."

The man ordered Sayadi to take his coveralls off. As Sayadi tells it, something finally snapped in him. He broke down and wept.

"I was crying like a woman. I was sitting on a chair, sobbing," he says. "They broke me down. I was done. I didn't have any defense besides my crying."

He proceeded to strip down to his underwear; he guesses now that somebody suspected he had a bomb. At some point a co-worker happened to open the door. Sayadi says the man's jaw fell open. Sayadi begged him to bring him his clothing from his locker.

"I was like a person drowning in a river, grabbing at a piece of hay," he says of that moment.

Eventually he was released, but that night he checked himself into his local hospital — something like an emotional breakdown had occurred, he says.
Wow, great job there folks. I love how we as Americans love to parade around as being all tolerant and encompasing of various cultures. The truth is, there may not be a bigger culture of xenophobes since Nazi Germany. We committed genocide against the inhabitants of these lands, condoned slavery for almost our first 100 years, still kept other races as second citizens, wrangled up any Japanese person we could find, and now shriek about illegal immigrants coming across of the border because they're "Mexicans". Hell, at my show last night I had some redneck screaming he was going to call INS on our wrestlers for being illegals. What? I almost broke down and throttled this fat ass.

I'm sorry, but the alleged "greatest country in the world" would never allow these things to happen on a mass scale, and they do. We would never allow fear to control our lives like they do at least half the population. I dream of an America who cares more about peace and prosperity for all mankind instead of culture warriors and prosperity for the upper one percent. Of course, there is a reason it is a dream, cause it will never happen in our lifetime.


SayHey Kid said...

Seems everyone is a suspect these days. Doesnt matter what color your skin is or what you've done to secure this country.

I dont listen to a word southern rednecks say. They are bred to hate and hating is all they will do best. Kill em all is their slogan and its a slogan i refuse to live by.

Dews said...

Yea, I feel for this guy... I have enough trouble with TSA if I don't shave the day of my flight, I can't imagine what its like to be this guy...

SayHey Kid said...

Well, you bleed for America, but it only counts if your an American. This guy did some heroic stuff. But like Chris Rock says "its all right if your white"