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Jul 07, 2008

It's July 4th. Do You Know Where Your New Iraqi Citizens Are?


Go Bosnia-Herzegovina!

The 46th annual Independence Day naturalization ceremony at Monticello offered the perfect opportunity to call out to the Administration for its pitiful response to Iraqi visa and immigration requests. (Last year, the US took in just over 1,600 Iraqis, less than a quarter of its target.  Prior to 2007, fewer than 800 Iraqis were admitted to the U.S.  Although the pace is finally picking up -- the goal this year is 12,000 -- the U.N. estimates 4.7 million Iraqis have been displaced because of the war.)

According to the NYT story of the event:

After Mr. Bush spoke, the group of immigrants took the oath of citizenship and met the president. At least four of the new citizens were former Iraqis, and one of them, Ali Hussain Al Asady, a 40-year-old former translator who lives in Roanoke, Va., hugged the president and said he passed on a message from family members who remained in Basra. They told him “to tell the president that we thank him because we are a free nation,” Mr. Al Asady said.

Whereas the event offered the chance to photograph Mr. Al Asady with Dubya (or even, alone) and create a visual record of one of the few Iraqis able to obtain U.S. citizenship more than five years after America invaded in Iraq, however,  The New York Times instead chose to publish a variant of the same saccharine shot that the White House published on its photo gallery, of Bush hugging Vesna Zeljkovic, 20, originally from Bosnia-Herzegovina.


As far as I could tell, the two other domestic papers that ran images -- WAPO and the Salt Lake City News -- went for this darling shot of Julie White Freeman, 8, who was born in China.  Julie was wearing a red-white-and-blue dress which, WAPO reported, "was tailor-made for the occasion."

The WAPO story also mentions Ali Hussain Al Asady, by the way, identifying him as "an Iraqi man with a small U.S. flag sticking out of one buttonhole of his striped shirt."


The White House photo gallery did offer a shot of a cluster of the seventy-four new citizens, but I didn't see a striped shirt.  The only media image I found on-line offering a group of the immigrants was from The China Post (just above). 

Unfortunately, there weren't any stripes there, either.

Bush Welcomes 72 New U.S. Citizens (NYT)
UN High Command for Refugees/The Iraq Situation
n E.U., hope dims for Iraqi refugees (CS Monitor)
Report: World ignoring Iraqi refugee crisis (CNN)

(image 1:  White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian. image 2: Pool:Kevin Dietsch/ Getty Images. image 3: unattributed. AP. All taken at Monticello. July 4, 2008.)


Enjoy it now buddy boy. Hugs from new citizens and nice suits.. Oh, happy times.

If the Hague doesn't get you.. then Judgement day is right around the corner.

I know I post this idea on the Bag over and over, but it's just about all I see when I see Bush's face. It's such a Faustian story to me. He is who (and where) he is because he's made his deal with the devil, while wearing the flag pin and claiming that he's following God's word. The sheer disconnect between the images created by his presidency and the images of him personally is going to be the unique stamp of the Bush years. Other presidents that ordered war and led the country through trauma had the pain show in their faces.

I'm all for people wanting a better life. I'm tired of Conservatives saying that people wanting to come here means we do not have problems worthy of our attention (such as loss of Constitutional liberties).

I agree with you, Gasho. I shudder when I think of the blackness that awaits Bush's soul.

I don't understand how the man can manage a smile, so these pictures of him up there beaming away are very jarring to look at. Kind of like those photos of Hitler accepting bouquets from little German girls. You think: are these people nuts? Don't they realize this man is cursed?

Of course, I'd be accused of spoiling everybody's good time if I spoke up, but I can't help it. We are living in a world where half the people seem not to notice that they have gone crazy. It's like living in the movie "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

Well said, Gasho. Sheer disconnect = Bush years.

The war bothers me immensely, in part because we don't talk much about the Iraqis.

"Prior to 2007, fewer than 800 Iraqis were admitted to the U.S. Although the pace is finally picking up -- the goal this year is 12,000..."

Don't get too excited about "the pace." Here are the results so far this year:

More than 1,000 refugees from Iraq arrived in the United States in May, the most in recent months, bringing the fiscal-year total to 4,742 so far, the State Department reported June 3. But with just four months left in the fiscal year, the administration's objective of resettling 12,000 Iraqis in the U.S. by October is far from being reached.

Current estimates show that 2.7 million Iraqis have been forced from their homes but remain in the country. Another 2.2 million people have managed to flee Iraq; most of them are living in unsettled situations in nearby countries. Roughly 40% of Iraq's middle class is believed to have fled. Most are fleeing systematic persecution and have no desire to return. Refugees are mired in poverty as they are generally barred from working in their host countries. In Syria alone an estimated 50,000 Iraqi girls and women, many of them widows, are forced into prostitution just to survive.

When McCain says we are succeeding, where does 4.2 million displaced people figure in?

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