Have you been hearing all the brouhaha about the movie American Sniper and how the US military referred to the people in Iraq as savages? I don’t even watch TV and I keep hearing about it. To me this is very interesting because I’ve known loads of Iraqis. I grew up in Detroit which has the largest Middle Eastern population outside of the Middle East. When I was very young we lived outside of Detroit in a town called Dearborn which was (and still is) the seat of the Ford Motor Company. My dad was an engineer at Ford (or as he called it FoMoCo). There is a huge Arabic population in Dearborn. Much larger now than when I was growing up. I spent hours watching the Arab TV stations out of sheer fascination (let’s just say their home decor and clothing styles were quite a bit different than most of the Anglo people.)
When I was five we moved just north of Detroit. You know that Eminem movie called Eight Mile? Well, we lived just off of Nine Mile. This area is where a huge number of Iraqis lived. When I was in high school I worked for an Iraqi dry cleaning business and then at an Iraqi frozen yogurt shop. The Iraqis owned most of the party stores around Detroit (party stores are a cross between a liquor store and a small grocery store. Like a 7-11 with a really huge selection of alcohol and some fruits and veg. You know how 7-11’s always have a little donut case? In party stores that is replaced with a baklava case.)
I went to school with Chaldeans and worked with them and the same thing happened that always happens when you spend a lot of time with someone who you initially think is “different”: you find out you’re pretty much the same. Except Chaldeans have about three hundred times more cousins than I do.
Most of the Iraqis are Chaldeans which means they are Christian (almost always Catholic although we had a few in our Mormon ward in Detroit). As Christians they have been the victims of the horrible Muslim regimes in Iraq. Interestingly, most Iraqis were Christian until the advent of Islam. Most arabs in Iraq came from other places in the Middle East. It is the Chaldeans and Assyrians who are the true Iraqi natives.
So, no, I can’t get on board with calling all people from Iraq savages. There are many ethnicities, tribes and cultures in the Middle East. It’s not right to just lump everyone together. I will, however, make an exception for the arabs who are killing Christians. I have a hard time finding a better word than “savage” to suit them. Maybe we could try bloodthirsty minions of Satan.
In case you’re interested in really finding out more about the Chaldean culture and history in Detroit (I LOVE learning about other cultures), here’s a longish video for you. I thought it was pretty cool.