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TODAY

Monday, June 17

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Airbags

So, it turns out I fudged my math by a few days, and I won't be voting until the end of this week.

This is why I'd be a terrible repo man.

On the other hand, it does give me the chance to share with you some of the correspondence I've had the pleasure of receiving this week from some enlightened, not-so-enlightened, and flaming jackass readers. To wit:

Hey Ramsin,
I'm an occasional reader of your columns on GB, and I really liked the column this week on the Iraq voting. My initial reaction months ago when I heard that there'd be polling locations in the U.S. was skepticism -- thinking that Bush/Rumsfield types wanted to swing the vote to pro-U.S. candidates. Is that a concern for you or other commentators?
-Sujata, Chicago

First of all, many people who write in, and I'm very thankful for it, tell me they are occasional readers. I wonder if that is because of my annoying habit of using puns for the titles is a visceral aversion for many sane people. Probably.

Anyway, this isn't really a concern for most ex-pats I've spoken to. The immigrant Iraqi community, like most "new immigrant" communities, is still very in touch with and aware of the political details of "back home"; most still have considerable familial and social connections to Iraq, and most if not all read and watch news sources originating from the region. If it is the intention of the Bush administration to use the OCV to "stuff" the ballot boxes, they are in for a rude awakening.

Ramsin, I read your article on occasion. Your article on Iraq was interesting, but how do you square voting in the US presidential election (don't I remember you saying you actually did election work here!?) with voting in the election of a completely different sovereign nation. Isn't there a conflict of interest?
Anonymous, Chicago

Anonymous: I don't really need to "square," it. This is pretty standard procedure in these rare cases. You'll recall that American Poles and Polish ex-pats in America were allowed to vote in the post-Communist elections in Poland. I do understand that, yes, I've never been to Iraq and, yes, I already voted in one sovereign nation's elections. However, the guidelines say that if your father was born in Iraq, you get to vote -- so where is the moral conundrum? I know it is difficult to wrap your head around -- and I don't mean that in a jerky way -- but this new election in Iraq is based on the premise that the government of the last 30 years was not legitimate; it was the political equivalent of an occupying power. Therefore, Iraqis in other countries can understandably be regarded as having been "displaced." I have absolutely no apprehension at all about casting a vote in this election.

Hey Ramsin, I'm a fan of your column, I read it when I can. It looks like your people have some serious organizational issues. I'm Armenian and we're the same way. Apathetic and uninterested.
Mikey, Chicago

Yeah, Mikey, well I only read your emails when I can. Just kidding. I think most immigrant groups, especially newer immigrant groups, suffer from this disconnect. It takes a generation or so before people can begin to awaken to their potential power as a community. Then again, maybe we're all genetically prone to compulsive drinking-tea-playing-backgammon-and-waving-off-social-responsibility. They're finding wacky new genes all the time.

In your 'article' you failed to explain what exactly is the point of voting in an election that takes place in a country you don't even live in, sponsored by an American government that you freely, smugly criticize. What is the point you're trying to make? Is there a point? No, I don't think so.
Chad Diamond, Undisclosed Location.

Hmm. Let's make this into a little reader contest. How about you all come up with a brilliant response to this brilliant reader, and send them right along to him. Perhaps you'd like to inform him of the, in some cases, centuries struggling millions of people have endured to win the right to rule themselves, and how flunking your duty to support that right is an inexcusable sin of omission. Or perhaps you'd just like to make fun of his name. Email me at with your response, and I'll pass them right along. Let me know if you'd like to include your email address for a response.

NEXT WEEK: Iraq The Vote Part III: This time, I actually do vote, and it's totally awesome!

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About the Author(s)

Ramsin Canon covers and works in politics in Chicago. If you have a tip, a borderline illegal leak, or a story that needs to be told, contact him at .

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