I’ve written on this in the past (as has John, and Jim Henley, and it’s been in the New Republic), but the situation is now urgent as well as serious – there is a very grave danger that the UK is preparing to sell its local employees in Iraq down the river, and the time to do something about it is now.

Iraqi interpreters used by the British Army and CPA South have already been hunted down by death squads. The British forces in and around Basra are no longer really sufficient to protect themselves, let alone their employees, as Channel 4 news details.

There really is no way of keeping these people safe while they are in Iraq, and they need to be kept safe. Quite apart from what one would call a “debt of honour” (the phrase is somewhat pompous, but accurately describes the situation), it never makes sense to get a reputation for abandoning one’s friends. Therefore, the Iraqi staff used by the British in Iraq need to be given asylum in the UK, along with their families.

This is not the current policy of the UK. The Home Office has simply suggested that Iraqis put at risk by their work for the British “register with the appropriate UN refugee agency”, joining the mountain of 2 million-plus refugees and IDPs already caused by the war. This simply isn’t good enough; the safety of Iraqis who are marked out as traitors by the insurgency can’t be guaranteed in the refugee camps either.

Denmark has already done the right thing, giving asylum to all 200 Iraqis who worked alongside their forces. The vast majority of the people concerned are already fluent English speakers and number only a few thousand, so we are not talking about a huge burden on the UK’s asylum system here – certainly nothing like the scale of the Ugandan Asian asylum operation, which is itself generally recognised to have been a massive net positive for the British economy and society.

British readers of CT ought to write to their MPs to ask them what they plan to do about this problem. It is best if you can write an individual letter, perhaps based on the set of bullet points over the fold, but if not, then the form letter on Dan Hardie’s blog is better than nothing (Update: the entire form letter is now also below the fold, after a burst of realism about how many readers you lose per click). I’ve also emailed my small set of contacts in the media about this story – as the links above show, to a large extent the “MSM” is already working on it, but anything we can do to keep it on the front pages will help. American readers of CT, well I guess you probably need to be thinking about how to organise something similar when your politicians start doing the same thing.

(other CT authors – can we leave this one up at the top of the page during Monday UK daytime please?)

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Simpsonize Me

by Kieran Healy on July 22, 2007

Simpsons Kieran Simpsonize yourself by uploading a headshot, providing a few variables, and (allegedly) having it automatically converted. You can tweak the image afterwards. JamesJoyner thinks it’s lame. Here I am — I’ll leave the veridicality of the representation for others to judge. The site is a bit finicky, perhaps because it’s overloaded with users. If you get it to work, post a link to yourself in the comments.

Funny with a serious twist

by Eszter Hargittai on July 22, 2007

Chris Uggen posted this video a few days ago:

I added a link to it on my daily links list where Liz Losh saw it and then included it in a blog post “Just Say Know” discussing all sorts of parody videos and sites related to drug use including the artist-created fictional drug Web site Havidol, and this video:

These are some great parodies. Work in the field of health communication looks at the effects of health campaigns, but tends to focus on serious ones. I wonder what type of work may be going on in the domain of parody viral videos online for similar purposes.