Thursday, December 27, 2007

My Christmas Eve Dinners With Iraqi Doctors

I have been out of commission for a few days, laid low by a stomach virus that I would wish on nobody, not even Ellen of Ellen's Tenth... However I must comment on the Christmas Eve dinners that I have attended for the last two years. One life-long friend of some in-laws has brought along two borders from Baghdad whom she has put up while they study medicine in Chicago. Last year she brought along a medical doctor who is now doing research in St. Louis, this year she brought his younger brother who is studying dentistry here in Chicago.

The last two holiday dinners have been a fascinating study on how to avoid the 800 pond gorilla in the room by a few folks afflicted with BDS. As the only family member who is part of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" I have always gotten along with those Iraqis very well, not only are they both great guys but we seem to understand what is at stake in this world and we understand freedom. It may be that over the years I have known scores of people who came from tyrannical regimes, whether it was a college roommate whose family left Cuba or a fellow exchange member who watched family members shot in Cambodia before his mother carried him to Thailand, there is even an old family friend whose mother carried her for three weeks to the American Zone in what would later become (the former) West Germany. Those people all have harrowing tales of their and their family's search for freedom.

Last year's dinner saw a few liberal memes exploded. Last year our Baghdadi doctor was asked whether it was the American invasion that drove a wedge between the Sunnis and the Shiites, "didn't they get along before the invasion?" That question elicited laughter from the doctor. The doctor was also adamant that America had done the right thing in invading Iraq despite the incredible hardships then faced by his family. Although not a particular hardship he did tell a story that related how society was then still fragmented; to get Fed-Ex packages to his Baghdadi family the packages were addressed to random street corners in Baghdad and a member of his family would meet the driver to sign for the package. For months they didn't trust the driver, apparently there had been robbery problems and worse with deliveries in Iraq. Our doctor friend stressed that people from all levels of Fed-Ex had been very helpful with their deliveries and that they later became very appreciative of the Fed-Ex drivers they got to know.

This year our dentist friend told how much things had gotten better in Baghdad and Iraq since the surge had started, things like deliveries are no longer a problem. Like his brother last year he was very excited about and appreciative for the help that America has given to his nation and about the possibilities that the future holds for his nation. As our friend started to expound on the changes in Baghdad and the success of the surge a few in the room started to comment on how terrible it has been that Bush didn't appoint General Petraeus in the very beginning. Our guest is not up on American domestic politics so I had to pipe up that "Lincoln went through a few Generals before finding U.S. Grant, didn't he?" Our dentist friend later asked me about what I had said about Lincoln and was happy to hear that there is such a great example of a parallel in American history that concerns the revered Lincoln; it makes for good rhetoric and it changed the conversation back to Baghdad on a dime.

Bottom line is that our family's Muslim Christmas Eve guests have been very appreciative of the sacrifices that America has gone through to help their nation during the past nearly five years.

Many Thanks to the wonderful Dr. Sanity for inclusion in her Carnival of Insanities again this week. Go Read Her Blog!

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Blogger R. Sherman said...

Greetings from Missouri. I trust you don't mind a Cardinals' fan sullying your comments.

Here from Dr. Sanity and I appreciate this post. For various reasons, I, too, have come across people who have risked everything to come here. Those of us who grew up in the States, have no idea what life is like elsewhere. I become frustrated with the salon conversations about how horrible we are, when I know people who escaped the killing fields of Cambodia just to be able to rear their children without fear.

People criticize "right wing troglodytes" for not knowing about other cultures. Alas, the same is true with the left wing which refuses to acknowledge how good we have it.


12:26 PM  
Blogger El Rider said...

Hey Randall,
Welcome and I really have no problem with Cardinal fans, well, ever since I moved out of the Wrigleyville neighborhood. I lived within a block of Wrigley Field for years and for some number of those years I actually lived directly across the street, including a place on Waveland that I put up a giant 455 sign in the window, signifying how far from home plate my apartment was. There is a picture of a party in that place during the All Star game in the book Baseball in America. I was at the game so I'm not in the picture. Cheers to you and thanks for stopping by, I'll have to check out the 7th Inning Stretch.

5:05 PM  

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