Jabbar Magruder, the 24-year-old regional director of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), will be giving a talk Thursday at the Fireside Lounge in the Ventura College cafeteria building at 7 p.m. as part of the week of events at Ventura College marking the fourth anniversary of the Iraq War.
In a telephone interview, Magruder stated that he plans to share his experiences of his 11-month tour of duty in Iraq as a member of the California National Guard. He also wants to encourage those in the audience “to find the strength to oppose this war that is not even meeting goals set out in the beginning.”
What he meant, he explained, was that the reasons for entering the war — Iraqi ties to al-Qaeda and the presence of weapons of mass destruction — were proved false, and no other reason seems to justify the U.S. presence. “Now that we’re there, we don’t have to stay; we don’t have to buy into the ‘white man’s burden,’ ” he said.
The “white man’s burden” is a reference to the 19th Century catchphrase used to frame the invasion and control of other lands by Europeans and their American descendants as a duty, one undertaken in order to bring western culture and institutions to the “natives.” The phrase came originally from the title of a Rudyard Kipling poem.
“The people of Iraq are quite capable of rebuilding for themselves,” Magruder said. “We need to ask ourselves what can we do to bring the troops home, to get our soldiers out of harm’s way.” He added that the violence was likely to continue in Iraq as long as the occupation continues. “They don’t want us there,” he said.
He defined the goals of the IVAW as threefold — to bring the troops home now, to take care of the needs of the returning troops, and to make reparations to the Iraqi so that they can rebuild their war-torn country.
Magruder also took part in the recent Appeal for Redress action. This involved presenting a request signed reportedly by thousands of active-duty military to their Congressional representatives asking for an end to the occupation. He denied that the appeal was a petition, as that would be illegal under military regulations, but that active-duty soldiers could legitimately address their representatives about grievances providing they did not wear their uniforms while doing so and did not criticize their commanders or express disrespect for the president. “It’s a simple statement, a respectful way for U.S. soldiers to disagree with policy,” he said.
When asked whether it would be hard for him to return for his second tour in Iraq, as he expects to do, Magruder stated that it was hard the first time, as he saw no adequate justification for the war. “But I’d put on a uniform and sworn an oath.” he said. “I believe in the Constitution, so I went.” He was enrolled in Moorpark College at that time and is in his second semester at California State University, Northridge.
Born and reared in Los Angeles, Magruder joined the California National Guard “for good job training and to help my community in time of need.” He stated that he anticipated helping in emergencies like wildfires or earthquakes rather than combat. He joined IVAW after listening to a speaker from the group on the third anniversary of the war and was inspired to join them.
Magruder’s talk will follow the film Sir! No Sir!, a prize-winning documentary about ordinary soldiers’ resistance during the Vietnam War and how this proved instrumental in ending the conflict.