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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Hummingbirds and Baghdad

Photo: Clear Lake (Texas) Hummingbird checking out lunch

I put up a hummingbird feeder on the balcony today, never having seen any such birds in the area before. Within an hour a hummingbird was hovering next to it, filling his tank. Then another. Amazing little creatures.

On the other side of the planet, I've been following the blog of an Iraqi girl for some years now whose code name is "Riverbend." She wouldn't know me from Adam, but she has written insightfully on life in Baghdad before and since the war. Recently I checked the blog and noticed that several months had gone by with no entries at all.

I was worried that she and her family had been killed in a car bomb or by one of the Sunni or Shiite death squads in Baghdad. But finally a new entry says that Riverbend and her family have found refuge in Syria. She says that Jordan wouldn't take them --they already have tons of Iraqi refugees.

I've been to Damascus (on a child kidnapping case involving Lebanon and a Lubbock girl). I've seen some ancient Christian churches in the hills outside of Damascus.

Syria is a contrast. It has been reported that the Israeli's made an airstrike on a nuclear facility in Syria recently - and not even Syria has whined about it publicly. That indicates to me that they had something to hide or they would have screamed about it loudly.

But there is a good side as well. The Syrians have tolerated having Christians in their country (unlike Saudi Arabia) and are taking in huge number of desperate Iraqis like "Riverbends" family -- vastly more than we have. We have not even taken 1,000 out of 2 million refugees caused by the war. To label them as potential terrorists is a real insult and slap in the face of people like Riverbend who are innocents who lives have been turned upside down by our country's actions. We should be responsible for those like Riverbend who should be allowed into the U.S. They are clearly NOT terrorists. They are just their Muslim victims.

Like Hummingbirds, they are trying to find a safe place to sleep and eat. We can do a better helping them and the folks in places like Burma, Darfur, Pakistan, etc.

Our President says we are fighting for freedom and democracy in Iraq. At the same time we ignore the lack of freedom and democracy in Pakistan, where a military dictator is beating up lawyers and throwing out his political opponents who are not extremists. This double standard is not missed by the rest of the world.

It is a policy whose failure will have nuclear consequences and will create a more extreme Pakistan instead of a more moderate one. In that event, the U.S. becomes less secure, for people and hummingbirds alike.

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