COMMUNITY VOICES | 'Dirty Wars' documentary - "eye-opening" screening in MN last week

Jeremy Scahill’s documentary, ‘Dirty Wars,’ screened at Landmark Theatre in Edina last weekend. It was both a heart-tugging and eye-opening piece. Scahill fearlessly documented his travels through Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia, unearthing the secrets behind America’s covert operations. The film did a brilliant job personalizing and humanizing the people dealing with the aftermath of US drone strikes and night raids. The film puts names, faces, and detailed stories to the victims, challenging the all-too-often repeated narrative of innocent lives lost being merely “collateral damage.”

Two things Jeremy shared stuck with me most. In both one of the opening and closing scenes, an Afghan girl no older than five is swaying back and forth reciting something in Dari that sounds like a poem. Scahill kneeled down next to the child, playfully inquiring about her recitation. It wasn’t until later that night doing film edits that his translator revealed to him that the small child was reciting the names of all of her relatives killed in an American night raid. Among the dead were two pregnant women. This story, in my personal opinion was somewhat of a metaphorical backdrop for the ignorance and naivety the majority of the American populace operate with when it comes to issues of this nature.

The second thing was during the question and answer session, when an audience member inquired about what we as a citizenry could do to evoke change. Scahill responded that the best thing we could do locally, is fight for causes that ultimately have a larger impact on a national scale. He highlighted Minnesota’s Somali-American community and the harassment and profiling they’ve faced from the FBI and local law enforcement. Our duty should be to act as allies, standing up as a community for members of our community treated unjustly. That message and Jeremy’s honest and genuine nature when I shook hands and shared a few words with him resonated with me the most.

I sincerely hope and recommend that everyone sees ‘Dirty Wars’ and it fuels the type of discourse we so desperately need in this nation.