Night Draws Near Chapter 13 of Anthony Term Paper

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Night Draws Near

Chapter 13 of Anthony Shadid's chronicle of the American military's recent experience in Baghdad Night Draws Near is intriguingly entitled "A Bad Muslim." Americans often state explicitly or imply that goodness and Islam cannot coexist, or the only 'good' Muslims are those Muslims who serve the interests of a secular, pro-American state first, with the Islamic faith a distant second in terms of their ideological priorities. Shadid's title asserts that this is certainly not true in the mindset of Iraqis, and that what constitutes good moral standards for many Iraqis Muslims are profoundly different from the pro-secular American mindset.

Iraqi standards of morality are often based upon a past sense of religious and national heritage that Americans cannot understand. Americans regard their own system of values as universal and neutral, while Iraqis regard Americans as encroachers into their territory and as no less partisan and imperialist in their ideology than any other foreign power. Shadid makes a compelling case at very least that the American mindset is indeed foreign to the minds of most Iraqis, and to Iraqi culture, or cultures, given the religious and ethnic pluralism endemic to the Middle East.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Night Draws Near Chapter 13 of Anthony Assignment

Shadid is intent in pointing out in this chapter that there is often a tremendous difference in the status given to religion and national origin in the mindset of Americans vs. The Iraqi mindset. Americans come from a young nation, and saw themselves as liberators in Iraq, as liberators of an oppressed people from a tyrant's rule. "The Americans in Baghdad frame the tumult in Iraq from the perspective of their own heritage and expressed them in the familiar vocabulary of democratic ideals" (279). Familiar, that is, to Americans. In the American mindset, democracy is inevitable, as is progress from the past, national, and religious ideals of Islam into an embrace of truth, justice, and the American way. Secularism and pluralism are good; parochialism and fundamentalism are 'bad.' Ideas such as those expressed by one Iraqi: "Under Islam, you should not shake hands with Americans, you should not eat with Americas, and you should not help Americans" are incomprehensible, like part of another, past feudal era (284). Was not, Americans might point out, their army quite influential in making Iraq freer by liberating it from a tyrant -- why should America be viewed with hostility when they made Iraq 'free'?

Iraq, however, according to Shadid, is a nation where grievances cannot be swept away merely by toppling a regime, rather it is a land where these grievances accumulate, and have accumulated, year after year. Although the American army may have been initially embraced by some Iraqis with open arms, even those Iraqis with grievances against Saddam Hussein did not wish to pay homage to an America army they regarded as secular and foreign. Most Iraqis, moreover, no matter what their feelings about Hussein, or their religious status, perceived the occupation as illegitimate, and a threat to their identity and way of life, as Iraqis, and as Muslims.

While the Iraqi opposition lacked in formal military power, it possessed the strength of grass roots "religion, centuries of culture, and oral tradition" and finally, guerrilla military tactics (280). The opposition was sometimes nationalist, sometimes pro-Islamic, and always anti-American, whether its rhetoric was framed in secular or religious terms. Even the Iraqis who enlisted enthusiastically in the American military, part of the policy of shifting responsibility from the American forces to Iraqis, made grim jokes about how their families had already earmarked plots for their corpses. Already, they expected opposition from their fellow Iraqis. In other words, the chaos that transpired that surprised the American military was no surprise to ordinary Iraqis. The volunteers are described as a "scared, disheartened, and confused lot" who were more interested in the money offered by the Americans to feed their starving families, than in the ideals of democracy (283).

We don't love the Americans, but we need their money" says one man, with explicit cynicism (283). "We have to work, it's my job," one soldiers say to a religious man who challenges their decision and identifies America with… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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