Monday, April 18, 2005

Saints and Heroes

Iraq'd brings us word of the tragic death of Marla Ruzicka, a humanitarian worker killed by a suicide bomber while working in Iraq. There are all too few humanitarian workers in Iraq today, and unfortunately they live in a state of constant danger from the very populace they are trying to help. Even in this praiseworthy group, though, it appears Marla went above and beyond the call of duty. And unlike many on the idealistic left, Marla was explicit in affirming the good that our soldiers do in Iraq, a fact made more impressive since one of her pet projects was reimbursing innocent victims of US attacks (mistaken intelligence or collateral damage).
"To Marla, the U.S. had simply incurred a responsibility to take care of Afghans and Iraqis, and she took it upon herself to ensure that we lived up to our burden. She also stood up for the troops who aided the Iraqi people and who helped her carry out her mission. After Marine General James Mattis remarked that "it's fun to shoot some people," Marla wrote to The New York Times, "I have worked with many of our servicemen who have helped me assist innocent civilians injured accidentally by American forces. It is not fair that their acts of kindness and care are misrepresented." Insisting on basic human dignity was the imperative for Marla, whether it was the dignity of the soldier or the civilian."

Marla started off as an opponent of the Iraq war, originally in Baghdad with the virulently anti-war Code Pink group. Yet once the war started, rather than returning home to yell and scream about how awful the United States is, she realized that the greatest good she could do would be to help people. Help victims, help innocents, and help rebuild. What Marla taught us was that we have an obligation to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. We can yell at each other until we are blue in the face about whether we should have gone, or should have stayed at home. None of it will change the fact that we are there, and that millions of lives now depend on our benevolence. America must rise to the challenge.

The Moderate Voice rounds up coverage. Marla's organization, Civic Worldwide, is certainly worthy of your support, regardless of whether you fall on the liberal or conservative end of things.

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