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By Charles F. Wickwire
Everyone's focus now that the war is almost over is, naturally, what comes next? It is generally accepted that a representative government of and for the Iraqi people is the common goal. Of course the Arabs want nothing of the kind and various communist countries are not fond of the idea either, but the US, Europe and the United Nations all agree to the goal but disagree on how to achieve it. Rather than examine all the different plans and opinions that are already on the table I would like to look at something different, something that could very well mean success or failure for any of the plans chosen to reach the ultimate goal of a free Iraq. That something is Immigration.
Why is it that, in the entire world, the United States is freer than any other county? Why is it that the United States doesn't have Catholics and Protestants bombing each other, or Muslims and Hindus killing each other, or black tribesmen evicting white farmers, or any of the other plagues that still afflict the rest of the world? We certainly have all these groups and more represented here in the land of the free, home of the brave; yet we all live together quite peacefully.
Oh I know the media and many special interest groups out there would have you believe otherwise but the truth is; Americans get along with each other. My work takes me all across this great nation and in my travels I have looked for examples of all the hatred that the media so joyfully relates to us on the evening news. But instead, when I walk along the street or go to the mall I see, interracial couples arm in arm, kids of multiple ethnic and cultural backgrounds running and playing with each other and same sex couples walking hand in hand without worrying who might see. Cities such as Seattle, Indianapolis and St. Louis might not surprise you but I also observed the same thing in Baton Rouge, Houston and Atlanta where some believe only racism and prejudice exist. It seems even the South now enjoys a tolerant lifestyle where folks live and let live. Sure, there were also examples of the ugly side of humanity, but statistically they were in the minority. Only on TV do the haters outnumber the hated.
I believe the tolerance we enjoy today is a by-product of the tremendous amount of immigration to America. Between 1880 and 1930 alone, 27 million people entered the United States. All these immigrants brought with them a desire to live free and escape the oppression of the old country. This is the secret behind American freedom, diversity and tolerance, and it can be what achieves the same freedom in Iraq.
Over the next several months, the United States will be rebuilding the infrastructure in Iraq while setting up the beginnings of a representative government. We have already called for help from Iraqi ex-patriots living in exile around the world. Many have answered that call and are eager to return to Iraq and help rebuild. Some even put their lives at risk to join our troops on the front lines. These ex-patriots have mostly been living in western countries where they experienced the freedom that the rest of us take for granted. It is this experience they will bring with them to Iraq and it is this experience they will share with their fellow countrymen.
I also believe that Iraq will become very popular with Arab and Islamic students. Iraq has always been a very literate country that considered education important. Once repairs to the school system have been completed, teachers can be recruited. Some of these recruits will come from the repatriated Iraqis but there are many other Arab and Islamic teachers in the west that will jump at the chance to be educators in the Middle East under a free regime. Once the quality of these schools match that of western schools, and it wont take long, many affluent Arabs currently sending their children to the west will opt instead to send them to Iraq where they can get the same quality education in an Arab country. While some of these students will choose to stay in Iraq, most will take their education, and more importantly, their experience of living under a free government back home with them. This is how freedom will spread in the Middle East and why the Arabs are so afraid of a free Iraq.
The largest number of immigrants will be refugees from neighboring dictatorships. To this day, foreign nationals pour across American borders because they want to be free and have a chance at a new life. A free Iraq will be no less inviting. From Kurds to Palestinians and Sunnis to Shi'ites, thousands will cross the border to escape oppression and become free. As we have seen here in the United States, it is nearly impossible to stop the flow. Instead, Iraq should welcome these immigrants and make them citizens. Have them swear an oath and declare all to be Iraqis, no matter what racial or cultural background they come from. Like the term American, Iraqi should come to mean anyone who is a citizen rather than a member of an ethnic group. In time, being an Iraqi will become even more important than being an Arab, a Kurd or a Muslim.
Some will argue that if all this immigration takes place that Iraq could loose its cultural identity. Well, isn't that the plan? Turning Iraq into a country that is governed by the people is a complete change in culture. You cannot preserve a portion of the current Iraq culture while systematically destroying another. No matter what, a new culture will arise in Iraq. The question is what kind of culture will that be.
Charles Wickwire is a Computer Specialist who likes to share his opinion
with those who are interested and even those who are not. He can be contacted
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