Friday, November 14, 2003

The use and abuse of 'hajj'

Earlier this year Jay Price of the Raleigh News & Observer reported this disturbing trend:
BAGHDAD, Iraq — World War II had its "krauts," Vietnam had its "gooks," and now, the war on terrorism has its own dehumanizing name: "hajji."

That's what many U.S. troops across Iraq and in coalition bases in Kuwait now call anyone from the Middle East or South Asia. Soldiers who served in Afghanistan say it also is used there.

Among Muslims, the word is used mainly as a title of respect. It means "one who has made the hajj," the pilgrimage to Mecca.

But that's not how soldiers use it. Some talk about "killing some hajjis" or "mowing down some hajjis." One soldier in Iraq inked "Hodgie Killer" onto his footlocker. [. . .]

I was very pleased to run across this post by a U.S. army officer this morning, on his efforts to correct both himself and his troops of this habit. I hope he will influence others to do the same.

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