I am going to be buried in hell.
The Human Shield Diaries
By early February of 2003, more than 300 Western volunteers had arrived in Baghdad to serve as human shields. By putting their bodies directly into harm's way, they hoped to slow, and ultimately halt, America's rush toward an "unjust and immoral" war. Last week the private journal of one volunteer, Sasha Linbury, a 21-year-old junior at UNLV, was found; it describes her courageous mission as an emissary of global peace.
Jan. 22, 2003
McCarran International Airport
Oh my God, such a sad, teary scene at the airport. My dad was totally aggro all the way there, but he's like so out of touch with his emotions that I know being mean is just his way of dealing with sadness. As we waited by the ticket counter, he said, "Look, we'd like to come down to the terminal to see you off, but your buddy Saddam's friends bombed the ever-loving shit out of us awhile back, so I guess the curb will have to do." And then he stormed off to have a smoke before I could point out that no plausible link had been established between Al Qaeda and the Iraqi government.
And then my mom started crying and saying she couldn't believe her "little angel" was going off to war. And I said, "I'm not, Mom, I'm going off to peace." And it was like the coolest thing I'd ever said in my life. It like totally popped into my head right that instant. I'd never thought of it like that before. But if I ever write a book about this experience, that is totally gonna be the title. By the way, if you're cringing about the demeaning phrase "little angel," try to remember that my mom went to college in the late '60s when students weren't very political and she's totally a victim of her own internalized misogyny.
By then, my dad came back and asked if "my little goddamn traitor is about ready to ship out?" I wouldn't even rise to the bait (thank you, breathing exercises). Instead, I just kissed him. And then he said, "Hey, maybe you'll get lucky and they'll have Kate Spade body bags over there." That's my dad's way of marginalizing intelligent and powerful Women Warriors. Like all we care about is shopping. Having said that, I do hope Iraq has some cool peasant artisans 'cause I'd like to find a nice area rug while I'm over there.
Jan. 23, 2003
Virgin Airlines, somewhere over the Atlantic
Okay, I have something to confess to my sisters in the Women's Studies group. I've been like totally binging and purging for the last three weeks. Now before you get all harsh about me buying into the Beauty Myth, try to remember that I'm about to meet a bunch of Europeans who already think all Americans are big fat pigs. So I totally want to look skinny when I get off the plane. And I think that makes it different. I mean, it's not like I'm starving myself for a man's approval. That would be gross. I'm starving myself for an entire continent's approval. Like Gandhi or something.
Jan. 24, 2003
London offices of Truth Justice Peace Human Shield Action
I was expecting everybody over here to totally hate Americans. But they don't. As soon as they find out you despise America as much as they do, they're totally cool. And it's such a like Zen thing to learn. I mean, we spend all this time wondering if people will like us. But if we could just learn to hate ourselves, then the people who hate us would learn to love us. Do you see?
Jan. 26, 2003
Aboard chartered bus, outside Brussels
There is like the cutest Australian guy on the tour bus. His name is Sean and he's totally hot. But last night he said he would never dream of sleeping with an American woman because he doesn't want to become infected with "the venereal poisons of our puerile McCulture and warmongering oil-lust." Which I thought was kind of harsh 'cause I totally douche. And even though it hurt my feelings, I really admire Sean's passion. Or his anti-passion. Or whatever. At least he stands for something, like hating people like me. Now I find him even way hotter.
Jan. 29, 2003
Aboard bus, en route to Milan
Last night, some of the volunteers started playing poker on the bus. The very first hand, I won with three-of-a-kind. As I reached for the pot, Sean said how typical it was that Americans thought having the best cards entitled them to steal everyone else's natural resources. Oh my God, I felt so bad and Republican right then. So Sean made me give the pot to Aaron, this guy from Canada. It's so very shameful and American to live right next door to them and still have no concept of Canada's grinding squalor.
So then Sean made us start playing "Third World Poker." I'd never played it before but the rules are pretty simple. Whenever I got a bad hand, I deserved it because of America's corrupt foreign policy. And whenever I got a good hand, it was further proof of America's core venality. No matter what, I had to give the pot to somebody else. So I ran out of money in about half an hour. And then Sean said, "Maybe now you know how it feels to be poor, to be without hope and to be turned away from America's groaning banquet table." Man, what a learning moment for me. Talk about having the blinders taken off. Sean has taught me so much in so little time. God, I am so ready for him to bone me now.
Feb. 5, 2003
Arrival in Baghdad
Well, we're finally here. Shortly after 1 p.m. we pulled into the great square in front of the Ministry of Information. We were swarmed by well-wishers and a charming children's choir entertained us with the traditional song of greeting, "Dai Boosh Dai," which we're told roughly translates as "Lay your burdens down, weary traveler." Gosh, what a neat culture.
The Ministry guy said our group would be sleeping on the factory floor of an ammonia plant on the outskirts of Baghdad. I raised my hand and asked if maybe I could be reassigned, 'cause the smell of ammonia totally makes me gag. And of course everybody had to snort and roll their eyes, you know, like Americans are so pampered and stuff. Well, I'm sorry, but I did not come all this way to smell like a Texaco bathroom. I don't mind being bombed, or maybe even killed, but I will not have that funky, spilled-milk early-September cafeteria smell in my clothes. That's just gross.
Feb. 6, 2003
The Iraq Diet
Today was a day off so we all went to this really amazing street bazaar. There was this lady selling these way overpriced cloisonne bracelets, and even though she was wearing this weird headdress, you could tell she was totally thin and pretty. So I asked her if she was on Atkins. And did she worry about eating all that protein? And does she ever let herself cheat a little with the carbs? And she just stares at me like she's got no idea what I'm talking about. (Jesus, women and their diet secrets. Help a sister out, would you?) Finally, she just cuts me off and says she's on the U.N. Sanctions Diet. Well, I don't know what it is, but I'm totally looking into it when I get back home. God, I hope it's not that weird flour paste that all the starving Indian babies eat with their fingers in those tacky Sally Struthers commercials. I'd rather get fat than eat that shit. I'm serious.
Feb. 7, 2003
The whole group had to paint a giant red cross on the roof of the ammonia plant today. So now I'm not only a human shield for American bombs, but I've got this like huge target painted on my roof. What are these people thinking?
Feb. 8, 2003
This Irish girl, Siobhan, and I went to an elementary school today to share cultures with our hosts. The kids were so cute. Siobhan brought her guitar along and we tried to teach the kids the words to R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts." I thought it was a good song to show that we totally sympathize with their impending deaths. We were surprised to learn that none of the kids had ever heard of Michael Stipe. So I told them, "Michael Stipe is a lovely and talented gay vegan man who is totally against America killing you. Or would be, if he were still famous." (While I did this, Siobhan drew a picture of Michael Stipe. Well, it was really just a stick figure with a bald head, but it totally looked like him. She's way talented.)
As we were rapping with the kids, I suddenly realized the whole class was all boys. So I asked the teacher where all the girls were. Well, there was like the most embarrassing silence. The teacher and the interpreter just stared at each other. And then it dawned on me...today must be the day when all the girls have to go to the library to watch "You and Your Menstrual Cycle: Shameful Offenses to Allah." (You're shedding more than your uterine lining...you're shedding your innocence.) My God, no wonder they were so embarrassed. Me and my big mouth. I could just die.
Feb. 9, 2003
Oh my God, I saw Sean Penn today!!! I am NOT kidding. He's way shorter in person, but still just a total hottie. I shouted across the street that I'd totally loved him in I Am Sam, and asked him if he could sign my journal. But instead of being gracious, he shoots me this totally hostile look, this "I'm here on a big international fact-finding mission and not to trade on my celebrity" stare. God, what a jerk. No wonder Madonna kicked his ass to the curb. I mean, why is it always the intense and brooding Hollywood stars who take up the big important causes? Like moody old Richard Gere trying to save the llamas and stuff. How come the happy stars who actually like people never want to save mankind? For instance, I bet Bono would have signed my journal. He's all political, but at least he remembers who buys the albums that allow him to jet-set around the world denouncing free-market capitalism. I mean, at least he's consistent.
Feb. 10, 2003
Siobhan and I had a falling out today. We were polishing these mondo expensive aluminum rods when I noticed her lips were way chapped. So, trying to be nice, I offered her my Udder Balm. I said, "I know it's got a gross name, but it totally works." So she takes the tube from me and starts reading the label. And then she says, "Wait a minute, is this stuff tested on animals?" And I'm like, "Ummm, duh, it's for cows." And she says only a "vacuous American princess would subsidize the systematic torture of animals blah blah blah." And I'm like, "Why are you being such a bitch?" And she says, "Just forget it. I'll buy my own makeup at the Taliban Duty-Free Shoppe." And I'm like...whatever.
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