Friday, October 29, 2004

My Favorite Blogs

I'm going to dedicate this post to two people who really inspired me to start blogging myself: the first is a young woman who goes by the pseudonym of Najma Abdullah. Najma lives in Mosul, Iraq, and is just 16 years old - although if you read her blog, you will see her maturity is far beyond her years. Najma's blog is a very well written chronicle of her daily life in Iraq, its good points and its bad points. We all know about the bad points from reading the newspapers, but Najma gives a really nice window into the good points.

If you read Najma's blog from the start, along with some comments she has posted on other blogs, you will notice a real evolution in her blogging. When she started her blog in June, her English was a bit rusty, and she had had some real anger at what she saw of the actions of US troops. In July, When CBFTW (a blogger/soldier stationed in Mosul) put up a post about a sortie in a Christian section of town, Najma became angry and put up a poignant comment on his blog. Najma's comment raised a few eyebrows, but also attracted some regular visitors to Najma's own blog. In the months since, Najma's English has become noticeably more polished, and through her correspondance with people, it seems she has really developed a truly balanced view of the situation in Iraq, simultaneously understanding the viewpoints of the average Iraqi on the street, the American soldiers driving around in their tanks, and the average person in America sitting at home watching all that on the 6:00 news.

Najma's blog is a real pleasure to read, and I visit it daily. I sometimes think if the world had more people like Najma, especially in leadership positions, it would be a far better place.

Another blog I really enjoy is a woman who goes by the pseudonym Riverbend. Her blog, called Baghdad Burning is a very well written assortment of personal experience and political commentary on the Iraq invasion, written by a resident of Baghdad. Some of my political views disagree with Riverbend's, but I enjoy her blog nonetheless. Riverbend's stance is not really anti-American, but is definitely anti-occupation, and anti-Bush. Her personal account of sitting in a windowless hallway with her family while the bombs dropped on Baghdad was so vivid that I found I could almost picture myself there in the hallway, seeing the scene through her eyes. This is a side of the invasion you could never find in the news media here.

One of Riverbend's best posts was about the Abu Ghraib prison fiasco. Here is a quote from this post (titled "Just go"):

I sometimes get emails asking me to propose solutions or make suggestions.
Fine. Today's lesson: don't rape, don't torture, don't kill and get out while
you can- while it still looks like you have a choice... Chaos? Civil war?
Bloodshed? We’ll take our chances- just take your Puppets, your tanks, your
smart weapons, your dumb politicians, your lies, your empty promises, your
rapists, your sadistic torturers and go.

I don't agree with all of Riverbend's political views, and in particular I do think pulling out of Iraq in its current state would just turn it into another Somalia. But, I strongly respect Riverbend for having the courage to publish her views, and I can really feel empathy for the ordeal she and her family have gone through. I hope Riverbend continues to blog, and I wish her and her family all the best.

One thing I strongly respect both of these young women for is publishing a blog in a language that is not their own. English is one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn as a second language, and there is always a higher standard applied to written language than spoken language. Both of these women obviously felt that they would reach a bigger audience in English, and took it upon themselves to make the extra effort to communicate with this audience.

I appreciate both of these women's efforts in publishing their blogs, and I hope that both of them are able to keep doing so for a long time.