April 18, 2005
This has nothing to do with medicine or science but a hero died Saturday. Her name was Marla Ruzicka. She was 28 and she took her opposition to the war as a moral imperative. Unlike the blathering bobbleheads on cable television and in Congress, she went Afghanistan and Iraq, surely the most dangerous places in the world, and set up an organization, the Campaign for Innocent Victims of Conflict (CIVIC), to help the innocent civilian casualties of the war, the very people we don’t read about and the Bush administration choses to ignore. She had no sponsorship and was on her own. Back in the U.S., she convinced Congress to approve $10 million in aid to the Afghans and $20 million for Iraq, the same people who spent $80 million investigating Bill Clinton’s sex life. She was described as beautiful, scatterbrained, charming, relentless and apparently fearless, and had been doing this kind of stuff all over the world since she was 15. Several years ago, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, she mooned President Bush. She had “Public Power Now” written on her underpants. Bush looked at her and said, “cute.” Her statistics on casualties on Iraq are considered as definitive as any, and her works are used as a resource by almost every journalist who went to Iraq, most of whom knew her. She crashed on their couches and threw parties to cheer them up. Perpetually broke, she sold blackmarket beer to raise money for the medical bills for innocent victims and rolled over American diplomats who failed to take her seriously. When U.S. officials said they didn't know how many Iraqis were killed accidentally by the invasion, she told them. Even generals learned to take her seriously, especially when she organized a mass of Afghan families to demonstrate for compensation. A number of reporters wrote appreciations for her, including Pamela Constable at the Washington Post, Ivan Watson on NPR, and Doug Smith of the Los Angeles Times. Also see Jennifer Abrahamson's piece in Slate. They were friends. Marla helped thousands of people who had no one else to help them and risked her life for them daily. She was killed Saturday along with her drive and another Iraqi on her way to help an injured child. A bomb exploded near her convoy on the infamous Baghdad airport road. It apparently wasn’t anything personal; the “insurgents” just saw a convoy and blew up the bomb. I wonder if President Bush, who cut short a vacation to intervene on behalf of a brain damaged woman in a Florida hospital, will bother to say anything.
One doesn’t know really what to say to her parents, except send them your condolences and admiration. Or:
Donations to CIVIC can be made in her memory to CIVIC, P.O. Box 1189, Lakeport, CA, 95453.