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All my comments! :)

So as to not miss any, I hot-linked as many as I could, but a couple I needed to actually post the comment because they were not approved by the blogger. A little different, but I think this is the way I’ll have to do it 🙂

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Comment 4:

“I believe that you touch on a common, yet very true point here. The problem with the international human rights violations across the globe may stem from national issues of those particular countries, but in many cases the violations are able to transpire and balloon into bigger issues because the international community turns their cheek to the matter. There are arguments for both sides of course: that we should mind our own business versus intervening. The question is which side is right, or better at least. Although, I’m not sure there appears to be a clear cut answer to any of these human rights issues, I think we are too far gone not to give it a shot. The United States is one of the most, if not the most, powerful countries in the world and if we are not willing to provide aid and demand these violations cease than who will? You bring up a valid accusation as well when asking the question if African lives are of less importance than ours. Sometimes I think people actually do believe that. Yes, it’s ludicrous and absurd, but sadly it’s prevalent. The patriotism we claim to have for our country while we are at war should be broadcast further. There is no decent explanation for the discrepancies in attention, aid, and all around sympathy for other suffering countries across the world”

Comment 5:

I think that it is hard to place ourselves in the shoes of soldiers who have served or are waiting to serve. Just as any horrific act in life, one cannot imagine the depth of that certain experience if they have not been right there as well. I believe you make very substantial connections between the blog and the poem by Graves. Both sources show the fear in the soldiers being called back to war, yet both show the cover-up as well. It seems to me that the military provides this sort of stigma that the soldiers need to be manly and tough and able to withstand anything. But I think the truth is that these soldiers are humans too. The military cannot expect them to shut up and take it without feeling any sort of emotional backlash and consequence. It is war we’re talking about here. In addition, as you’ve stated as well, the soldiers are not the only ones feeling this sense of fear. The wives, husbands, friends, families, etc. are all experiencing just as much anxiety and pain and frustration as the soldiers deal with it seems. It makes me wonder what the point of all this is? Are we really fighting for peace? Or are we just fighting to fight and cause more fighting in the long run…”

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peace*

As much as I enjoyed every reading we were assigned throughout the course of this semester, Ishmael Beah’s book, “A Long Way Gone,” was the one in which I most looked forward to as well as the one that most corresponded to my personal interests and aspirations. The correlation between Ishmael Beah’s personal story and the stories of war-torn areas in Africa, such as Darfur, are significantly similar. For the purposes of this particular comparison, however, I will not be using specific quotes from Beah’s book, but rather his themes and concepts as a whole.

Ishmael Beah is a boy from Sierra Leone who experiences the civil war as both a civilian and a soldier. Ultimately, he survives and rehabilitates his way to America. Beah, his older brother, and some of their friends learn their home has been attacked by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). The boys begin a long process of attempting to flee from war violence and eventually get captured by rebel forces. Ishmael Beah gets separated from the rest of the boys and, after a few other occurrences, ends up being forcibly recruited by the army to fight. The RUF used drugs, war movies, fellow soldiers, and combat violence to brainwash Beah into becoming a mindless killer before he was finally released from the army into UNICEF.

In relation to the experiences Ishmael Beah faced while he was being forced to be a child soldier in Sierra Leone, the children in Darfur are being psychologically damaged in similar ways. I believe that one tends to forget what happens to the children throughout these war-torn territories and genocides. An article written by Nancy Blackmon for the Andalusia Star-News titled, “Has Anything Really Changed,” showcases the comparison of the Holocaust with current genocides in Africa.

The author reiterates her experience during a lecture given to some high-school students by Holocaust survivors themselves.

“…One of the survivors, Max Steinmetz said he was thrown into a boxcar with almost no food or water. He was 17 at the time, close to the age of many of those in the audience who heard him talk about the genocide of the Jews under Hitler…The same thing is happening in Darfur and the world is watching it happen just like it did when the Holocaust began in Germany all those years ago…Despite society’s advances, the people and sadly the children in Darfur face a life that is unimaginable to me. It is impossible to think of fear and turmoil being part of day-to-day life. It hurts to think about children alone, frightened and hungry because their parents died as a result of this genocide…”

As is clearly stated, the children are the ones who seem to suffer the greatest amount of damage. Not only are they facing the immense amount of physical tortures and horror stories, but they are in many cases young enough in which they do not understand the full affects of what is going on around them. Let alone what is happening to them personally and their loved ones as well. Ishmael Beah’s story is one of the few that consists of having a happy ending to it. Most of the children who are either forcibly enrolled in their armies as child soldiers or affected as civilians do not recover from the psychological and physical damages done to them. And in some equally unfortunate cases, do not survive at all.

Ishmael Beah’s “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier”

http://www.andalusiastarnews.com/news/2009/apr/07/has-anything-really-changed/

First and foremost, I find it important to state that I believe Tim O’Brien to be an individual of utter genius and intelligence when it comes to his writing style. His book, “The Things They Carried,” was one in which I could honestly say that I did not put down once until I finished it. He kept my attention as well as my interest throughout each short story of his. Furthermore, I found connections between his short stories and the stories and articles found about the war in Iraq today. The connection between the two, albeit under stark contrasting differences occurs within the idea of being released from one’s soldierly duties. Being a person who highly opposes the war, and any war in general, I can easily understand the want and need to find some sort of reason to release one’s self of his/her duties as a soldier to our wars. The story of releasing in “The Things They Carried” and the story of releasing I found on the military blog “The Unlikely Short-Timer” are two very different releasing stories.

The story of Rat Kiley going mad as a medic in “The Things They Carried” shows the psychological damage done throughout the course of a war as well as proving that some soldiers will do anything possible to make sure they get the hell out of there.

“‘This whole war,’ he said. ‘You know what it is? Just one big banquet. Meat, man. You and me. Everybody. Meat for the bugs.’ The next morning he shot himself. He took off his boots and socks, laid out his medical kit, doped himself up, and put a round through his foot.” (O’Brien, 223.)

In contrast, the author of the military blog, “The Unlikely Short-Timer,” discusses how just as much as he desires to be out of the military, for prideful reasons he would never “cheat” the system. He understands and feels as though he has an obligation to serve his country and finish his duty no matter what his feelings are about being released from the war.

“I tried to gather a list of reasons why I should be exempt, allowed to leave. Tried to think of a way to present them that would somehow persuade them. Then it dawned on me that it wasn’t going to happen. No Poor Me excuses are going to work. As I stepped back and looked at the case I was trying to present, it just looked weak. Feeble. Selfish. Then, for the first time I REALLY realized the gravity of the truth. I really did sign a contract.”

As one can see through these two examples, it is not by any means easy for a soldier to admit he or she wants to be dismissed of his or her duties in the war. Nevertheless, the psychological damages are dire and immensely grave. Rat Kiley went to lengths deep enough that he shot himself in order to get himself out of the war and away from the horrors. He cannot be blamed or labeled as a coward by any means, but the author of the military blog holds a prideful viewpoint that I believe to be apparent in most soldiers’ minds. They seem to believe that society will think less of them if they find a way out or come up with some excuse why they should not go back. But in the full reality of the sense, who would blame them? Not me, for one…

“The Things They Carried” Tim O’Brien

http://theunlikelysoldier.blogspot.com/2009/03/final-word.html

Judy Barrett Litoff and David C. Smith compiled an impressive collection of letters from American women during World War II who were on the home front in their text, “Since You Went Away.” My impression of these compiled works was that each set of letters fit so well with the theme and connection that the authors were attempting to portray. I found the letters heartbreaking, heartwarming, and all-together highly interesting to read.

Nevertheless, however, it is apparent that the women who were writing these letters were heavily detached from the realities of the war. Through boosting the moral, listening to the daily news, etc, the women were unaccustomed to hearing the brutalities, casualties, and other daily horrors of the war their loved ones were so bravely fighting for them. In correlation with the war in Darfur, the idea of immense detachment runs wild. It seems to me that a reoccurring thought for most individuals is that the wars that are being fought across the world and the human rights atrocities that are so closely related are too far away to worry themselves about. Sadly, the majority of the population thinks this way.

Within “Since You Went Away,” I believe that the most fitting chapter for the idea of detachment occurs, clearly, in Chapter 1 titled, “Don’t You Know There’s A War On?”

One letter, written by a girl named Joanie to her Uncle read like this:

“Dear Uncle Joe, Is it fun on your boat? I hope so. I am in Maryland but am going home very soon. It’s very warm; 70 degrees to-day! We waded in the woods even! I have made lips here. Mine! I have kissed them. You kiss them too. The love will carry…” (Litoff and Smith, 17.)

As is apparent in this short passage, although the girl was younger than the majority of the wives portrayed in the text, the overwhelming consensus shows that these women were detached and naïve concerning the war, whether they were aware of that notion or not.

An article written by Olivia Ward, Foreign Affairs Reporter for The Toronto Star discussed our detachment from the war in Darfur, as well as other atrocities throughout the globe. The ICC discussed the warrant for President Bashir’s arrest and Bashir’s retaliation with forcing aid organizations out of the country.

“Things are much more serious than we hear in the news…Sudanese workers as well as international ones have been expelled. National human rights organizations have been persecuted and shut down and their files confiscated,” says William Pace of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court.

These references just go to show that we, as a society and as WORLD citizens, cannot let these atrocities fall by the wayside. We should not and can not act as if these events and wars are “worlds” away. That exact mindset is what allows these human rights violations to continue without subsiding.

“Since You Went Away” Judy Barrett Litoff and David C. Smith

http://www.thestar.com/News/World/article/613984

When reading and interpreting Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five,” I was hesitant to think that I would enjoy such a read. Vonnegut’s style and form is different than anything I have ever read before. It seemed jumbled and random and I was not sure that I would be able to get into the book and follow the story well. To my pleasant surprise, however, after reading about 20-30 pages I couldn’t put the book down and ended up finishing the entire story. Vonnegut’s style was absurd to me but in some way, shape, or form, it all made great sense.

With relation to the connections being made throughout this course and present-day materials, I found a rather pertinent and widespread theme between the psychological effects of the war on Billy Pilgrim and the psychological effects of the war and the rape on the women in Darfur.

An article written by Refugees International titled, “Ending Violence against Women in Darfur,” discussed the use of rape as a tool of destruction in the war in Darfur and how rape provides long term effects on the women involved. As the article states:

“The decision to use rape as a weapon of war was extremely calculated, designed to ensure the destruction of a family, as well as the community. In Darfur, women were seen as the center of society and were oftentimes considered the head of a household. In addition to their status in society, women were also well-respected because of their chastity. As devout Muslims, it was absolutely essential for them to maintain their virginity until marriage. By raping Darfuri women, particularly in front of male family members, the Janjaweed essentially raped and destroyed the entire tribe.”

In other words, the rape towards Darfuri women not only has long term effects but essentially destroys everything that these women and their tribes live for day-to-day.

“Victims of rape often suffer from long-term consequences. When it is discovered that a woman has been raped, she is often disowned by her husband and family. A woman may be prosecuted for adultery if she is married. If she is not married, she is no longer considered to be desirable and her prospects for marriage are spoiled. Victims are abandoned and isolated by their communities, frequently suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, depression, anxiety and social phobias…a woman might suffer from long-term psychological damage.”

On the other hand, Billy Pilgrim in “Slaughterhouse Five” suffered from some of the same types of psychological damages that the women in Darfur faced, although from different sources. It seems that Billy may be hallucinating about his incidents with the Tralfamadorians as a way to escape his world that has been so destroyed by war and, furthermore, a world that he doesn’t seem to understand.

For example: the Tralfamadorian speculation about there being a 4th dimension seems too coincidental to be more than just a way for Billy to downsize all the death he has personally witnessed. Overall, Billy is a traumatized man who cannot seem to come to terms with the horrors and destructiveness that he has seen throughout the war in a realistic way.

Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five”

Refugees International:

http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/MUMA-7P969E?OpenDocument

Prior to reading “Maus,” I had never read any sort of graphic novel before. I was surprised in the sense that the emotion and gritty reality shown in serious novels can just as easily shine through in a graphic, comic, novel. I felt the full sense of fear of the concentration camps that Vladek felt. I soaked in the conditions described arguably better than I would have without the graphic nature of the novel. In a more general sense, the concentration camps prevalent throughout the course of the Holocaust remained true to their grim and inhabitable conditions. In comparison, today, there are claims that the war in Darfur has created and somewhat transformed Darfur into a concentration camp in itself.

Within “Maus,” Vladek remembers when they first left for the concentration camp. He reiterates their assumptions towards the camp given what they had heard already from others.

“…A few days later the trucks came…they pushed in maybe 100 of us…And we came here to the concentration camp Auschwitz. And we knew that from here we will not come out anymore…We knew the stories-that they will as us and throw us in the ovens. This was 1944…We knew everything. And here we were…” (Spiegelman, 157.)

Vladek broadcasts the reality of the concentration camp, Auschwitz. He is aware of the conditions beforehand or the general idea of them at least. Vladek has heard one too many stories about the camps already—in fact, everyone has.

In comparison, an article written for the New York Times by Nick Kristof tells of how Sudan is choosing to close off domestic aid groups to its civilians as per the request of President Bashir. As a result of the war-torn region, Sudanese individuals are struggling to survive just as the Jews during the Holocaust. The very basic needs of humans are not being met, such as food, water, shelter, and clothing.

As Kristof reports, “In normal times, Darfuris are remarkably resilient and can resist famine by foraging or eating their livestock. But today they are penned up in camps and have lost most of their animals. They are completely dependent for food, sanitation and healthcare on NGO’s, mostly international ones. Expel those aid workers and you kill Darfuris as surely as if you machine gun them…all Darfur is now turning into a concentration camp…”

Every word that Kristof reports in the article about the Darfuris can be related in entirety to the situations within the concentration camps in the Holocaust as Vladek states in “Maus.” It brings to mind a question we, and our government officials, should ask ourselves today. Are the wars across the world, such as Darfur, on the same level as the Holocaust? In numbers, maybe not yet. But are we willing to sit back and wait to find out?

Art Spiegelman’s “Maus”

http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/05/sudan-closes-a-domestic-aid-group/

The recent readings done in our course over the topic of the Holocaust have interested me more than any previous readings. I am currently enrolled in The Holocaust class and am finding many connections and correlations with these readings. The overall theme that seems to resurrect itself many times when discussing the Holocaust is the idea of humanity, and in this case, inhumane actions towards humanity. Inhumanity from human beings towards other human beings. I found this correlation through Elie Wiesel’s book, “Night” and through a news article discussing inhumanity and racism in Darfur.

In “Night” the discussion of inhumanity towards other humans showcases itself prevalently through everything Elie experiences in the war. His experiences show him how horribly people can treat one another, which evidently troubles him deeply.

An example of this towards the end of the book states from a Kapo to Elie that “…In this place, it is every man for himself, and you cannot think of others. Not even your father. In this place, there is no such thing as father, brother, friend. Each of us lives and dies alone…” (Wiesel, 110.)

“Night” reiterates how humans can turn against one another in times of war and cruelty. In a sense, perhaps one can say that cruelty breeds cruelty. This can be represented by the Kapo’s position since Kapos themselves were prisoners placed in charge of other prisoners. These actions are a direct result of the abundance of racism present throughout the Holocaust. The racism breed through the Germans and Hitler was passed through the ranks and played a role in developing the theme of self-preservation and inhumanity towards other humans throughout the course of the Holocaust and other events.

In relation, an interview done by The Desert Sun with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Tutu was an important figure in the disassembling of South Africa’s oppressive apartheid system and he continues the fight against injustice across the world. The topics discussed in the interview covered war, racism, and genocide. For example, an exchange between the interviewer and Tutu summarizes the effects of racism rather well.

“Question: “Some 15 years after the system was dismantled, does apartheid still exist in South Africa?” Answer: “You don’t get rid of racism just by the stroke of a pen. You see it here—when did you have your Civil Rights law?” “1964.” “Yes. Is there still racism here?” “Absolutely” “Yes. You remove, I think, the legal support for racism, but racism itself is in the hearts of people. You can’t legislate for or against. You can make it costly for someone to behave badly.”

As is shown, the relation between “Night” and Tutu’s article is broadcast through the idea of racism and its long term effects. As we all are aware of, the racism in this country is still present despite the Civil Rights law. In addition, racism of, Jews for example, and other minorities all over the world gets bred through the cruelty of war.

http://www.mydesert.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009903080338

Elie Wiesel’s “Night”