Saturday, August 04, 2007

Compare and Contrast - Iraq vs. Alabama

Look at the above sign from an American military base in Iraq which restricts use of the toilet to United States military and contractors only. Iraqis are required to use separate latrines for "hygiene" reasons. Source is Kansas City Star via Think Progress.

Compare the above sign with the one to the left from the segregated Jim Crow South of American history.
What is the difference between them?

If you answered, They are both exactly the same, you are right.

Just as Southern Whites refused to take a crap on the same toilet a black man had used, Americans soldiers will not tolerate dirty, dark-skinned Arabs pissing in American urinals. The Apartheid of the American occupation of Iraq extends to eating. Americans get three hours in the dining hall and can eat at their leisure. Iraqis are crowded into an hour and spend most of it standing in long lines.

If an Iraqi working on an American military base were magically transported to Selma, Alabama in 1926 he would see little difference between his life in occupied Iraq and blacks living in racist Alabama. I am curious how many of these "rules of Jim Crow etiquette" have been transmuted to Iraq with the simple exchange of "Iraqi" where "Black" appears and "American" for "White." I suspect that most, perhaps all, are the unwritten rules that govern the relationship between Iraqis and their American masters. Whatever prison has replace Abu Ghraib awaits any uppity Arab who violates the code of conduct.
  1. A Black male could not offer his hand (to shake hands) with a White male because it implied being socially equal. Obviously, a Black male could not offer his hand or any other part of his body to a White woman, because he risked being accused of rape.

  2. Blacks and Whites were not supposed to eat together. If they did eat together, Whites were to be served first, and some sort of partition was to be placed between them.

  3. Under no circumstance was a Black male to offer to light the cigarette of a White female -- that gesture implied intimacy.

  4. Blacks were not allowed to show public affection toward one another in public, especially kissing, because it offended Whites.

  5. Jim Crow etiquette prescribed that Blacks were introduced to Whites, never Whites to Blacks. For example: "Mr. Peters (the White person), this is Charlie (the Black person), that I spoke to you about."

  6. Whites did not use courtesy titles of respect when referring to Blacks, for example, Mr., Mrs., Miss., Sir, or Ma'am. Instead, Blacks were called by their first names. Blacks had to use courtesy titles when referring to Whites, and were not allowed to call them by their first names.

  7. If a Black person rode in a car driven by a White person, the Black person sat in the back seat, or the back of a truck.

  8. White motorists had the right-of-way at all intersections.

Stetson Kennedy, the author of Jim Crow Guide, offered these simple rules that Blacks were supposed to observe in conversing with Whites:

  • Never assert or even intimate that a White person is lying.
  • Never impute dishonorable intentions to a White person.
  • Never suggest that a White person is from an inferior class.
  • Never lay claim to, or overly demonstrate, superior knowledge or intelligence.
  • Never curse a White person.
  • Never laugh derisively at a White person.
  • Never comment upon the appearance of a White female.
  • Source: What Was Jim Crow?

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