Peace Activist Killed in Iraq
April 18, 2005 6:03 AM   Subscribe

Numbered Among the Dead The life's work of Marla Ruzicka, a 28-year-old American activist, had become door-to-door polling in Iraq to assess the number of civilian casualties of the war. She became one on Sunday, dying in a suicide bomb attack. "The Marines have nicknamed me Cluster Bomb Girl because I would hear of places where they had gone off," she said in a 2003 interview, "and I would ask them to help me clear the area."
posted by rcade (55 comments total)

 
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posted by jperkins at 6:34 AM on April 18, 2005


Hmm, "civilian enters area of military activity and gets killed".
Rather formulaic, dontca think? ;-P
posted by mischief at 6:46 AM on April 18, 2005


Hilarious, mischief. Boy, you really showed that Marla. What a naif.
posted by digaman at 6:58 AM on April 18, 2005


Feh, mischief. More like "peace activist risks her neck repeatedly in area of military activity and gets killed while gathering vital information" -- that doesn't sound too formula to me. Then again, war is formulaic.
posted by sninky-chan at 7:00 AM on April 18, 2005


A girl goes in where very few people, including you, mischief, have enough balls to go. I wonder if you would say what you did around her friends of familiy.

Oh yeah, and

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posted by c13 at 7:15 AM on April 18, 2005


You can hear some audio clips of Marla at work in this morning's NPR coverage of the story.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:17 AM on April 18, 2005


No doubt Little Green Footballs and other members of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders will mock her from the safety of their cheese-doodle eating lives.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 8:00 AM on April 18, 2005


. I am shamed by that woman's level of selflessness.
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:04 AM on April 18, 2005


The irony is amazing.
posted by TetrisKid at 8:06 AM on April 18, 2005


Irony: Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs

Ms. Ruzicka likely had every expectation of being injured or killed. Her death is not ironic, but very very sad.
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:09 AM on April 18, 2005


She was a brave, good-hearted woman.

But Iraqis just like her die by the thousands or hundreds of thousands. Americans by the hundreds.

She just puts a face on a continuous tragedy.
posted by teece at 8:25 AM on April 18, 2005


teece, I doubt anyone would dispute that she was brave and that she died is tragic.

The area where the division is clear is where to lay the blame. Some would lay the blame at America's feet. Some would be so brave as to point out the terrorists are to blame--the same terrorists she was sided with in opposition to the US's attempts to help make Iraq democratic.
posted by dios at 8:32 AM on April 18, 2005


the same terrorists she was sided with in opposition to the US's attempts to help make Iraq democratic.

How do you figure? Does demographics equal terrorism in your mind?
posted by shawnj at 8:39 AM on April 18, 2005


If I was into giving people alternative views I would certainly jump on the occasion

1. she was american
2. she was cute
3. she was a girl

(where in the world was Ms. Ann Coulter, which is all of the above, fomenting political hate while the girl died ? In a hairsaloon I guess telling her friend how she fooled a bunch of idiots again and again and again)

4. she documented an ongoing atrocity, bringing some on the field collected numbers instead of pentagon best-guess extimate.
5. she showed ALL iraquis don't hate americans otherwise she would have died at any door, it took an extremist to kill her
6. she did litte, but more and better then the zero-nothing-nada billions did

Man what a woman ! That some girl with grace and guts.
posted by elpapacito at 8:47 AM on April 18, 2005


No shawnj. I do not mean that she supported the terrorists. I don't know that. I have no reason to believe she supported them. My use of the word "sided" was indicating she opposed the US's military action there as do the insurgent terrorists. I do not mean to suggest that she was in an alliance with them or anything. But, on the issue of whether the US's attempts to help see Iraq into a democracy should be supported, she is sided in opposition to on-going US involvement.
posted by dios at 8:51 AM on April 18, 2005


101st Fighting Keyboarders

I like this. Right up there with the pajamahadeen.

She was clearly a good person trying to do good things. So was the barely mentioned Faiz, an Iraqi, who barely gets any mention...

Sad that she died. Sad that the guy who died with her is barely worth notice. Sad all the fucking way around.

This had all better be for more than a one election - one time democracy.
posted by srboisvert at 8:53 AM on April 18, 2005


Some would be so brave as to point out the terrorists are to blame--the same terrorists she was sided with in opposition to the US's attempts to help make Iraq democratic.


Does the entireity of reality really fit into one of those two boxes in your worldview, dios, or is that an act you put on as part of your political advocacy? I am stunned that anyone could come to the conclusion that she was an ally of terrorists, but I guess I'm a little too used to the idea of "nuance".
posted by norm at 8:54 AM on April 18, 2005


"where very few people, including you, mischief, have enough balls to go"

Oh, really? I'm a decorated US Marine Corps combat vet.

What are your military credentials, c13?

"peace activist risks ..." Whatever. Abstract to the core concepts, and my original statement still stands.

And to her family: Your daughter was an idiot. Chalk one up for Darwin.
posted by mischief at 8:55 AM on April 18, 2005


.

People helping people are never idiots. Those that killed her might be, though.
posted by bz at 8:58 AM on April 18, 2005


My use of the word "sided" was indicating she opposed the US's military action there as do the insurgent terrorists.

LOL. Dios, you are a fucking troll and your "with us or against us," from the safety of your office amuses me to no end.

And to her family: Your daughter was an idiot. Chalk one up for Darwin.

Thanks for sharing your considered opionion. I'll be sure to ignore from here on out. From one of the links:
This has meant cozying up to a military she had formerly excoriated. "I'm constantly hitting them up for help, and I have learned that for the most part, they are anxious to help," she said. "The Marines have nicknamed me Cluster Bomb Girl because I would hear of places where they had gone off, and I would ask them to help me clear the area."
posted by jperkins at 9:04 AM on April 18, 2005


Chalk one up for Darwin.
I'll bet, in your view, the only defensible choice is a self-interested one. "Protect yourself and your own, and damn the rest - they'd do the same" kind of deal?

Your quoted credentials don't stand knee-high to her courage. You had the support of a multibiliion dollar war machine. She went alone, walking door to door, counting bodies. What you call stupidity, I call heroism.

Your lack of respect for altruism is sickening, but sadly not unique.
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:09 AM on April 18, 2005


I'm a decorated US Marine Corps combat vet.

Did you serve under Jeff Gannon?

Personally, I have a lot of respect for the civilians who are crazy enough to rush into a war zone to help people when everyone else is desperate to get out of them.

Heaven forbid we admire someone who tried to clear cluster bombs from war zones and document civilian casualties, showing the kind of personal courage I would be uncomfortable watching on TV, much less exhibiting myself.
posted by rcade at 9:12 AM on April 18, 2005


Dios: it seems like she opposed the war and occupation simply because of the civilian casualties involved. So, she sided with the US military, because they've always been at pains to avoid such deaths and injuries.

It's a shame to see such loose and belligerent rhetoric on such a sad story.

On preview: I guess this was to be expected.
posted by boo_radley at 9:15 AM on April 18, 2005


"She mooned the president," her mother said. "The back of her underpants said, 'Public Power Now.' When she turned back around, the president looked her in the face -- he was only about a foot away -- and said, 'Cute.' "

From the SF Gate article.
posted by DakotaPaul at 9:19 AM on April 18, 2005


wow. mom must be proud.
posted by TetrisKid at 9:20 AM on April 18, 2005


mischief:

By the definition you seem to be using, YOU are an idiot. As a Marine, you were willing to risk your life for something you believed in. This woman was no different -- she wished an accurate accounting of how many Iraqis have died, and she put her life on the line to get it.

It's actually pretty fucking disgusting that that wish of hers is even remotely "activist." Whether you support what is going in Iraq or not, you should NOT support the *shrug"* who gives a shit official line of Iraqi casualties.

But, you are an idiot, by your own definition. Care to clarify, or do you want to let that stand?
posted by teece at 9:26 AM on April 18, 2005


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posted by chaz at 9:28 AM on April 18, 2005


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posted by sacre_bleu at 9:30 AM on April 18, 2005


Thanks for that npr link, Slack-a-gogo. I can't imagine anyone would be less than awed, saddened and humbled by this story.
posted by blendor at 9:40 AM on April 18, 2005


wow. mom must be proud.
posted by TetrisKid


Actually, yes she is, and I would be, too.

Her parents are both Republican but have always supported their daughter and her work, they said Sunday.

"We're proud of her accomplishments," said her mother, ... She was a loving person, and she spread that love around the world in her concern for others."

posted by DakotaPaul at 9:42 AM on April 18, 2005


"She came to us with the idea of putting a special fund in the foreign aid bill to take care of projects to help people whose businesses had been bombed by the U.S by mistake or collateral damage of some sort," Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record) of Vermont said Sunday."
Try and clean up the mess left by assholes like mischief, and all you get is their scorn.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:51 AM on April 18, 2005


To actively ignore the trolls, I must say that I tend to be skeptical about activists who gather information. But Marla's bravery is compounded by her determination to make a difference and not be marginalized. Activists on both sides of whatever too often race to extremist rhetoric, but
Marla took her first report to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) who sponsored legislation to provide U.S. aid to innocent Iraqis who were harmed in the military operations.
Screw the righteous indignation of the holier-than-though "bomb the other cheek" hawks. Pshaw on the simplistic world view of the end-war-right-now-because-I-say-so progressives. This world created people like Marla. And it's filled with people like Marla, who was commendable in her conviction, awe-inspiring in her courage, astounding in her ability to make a difference and remembered by all as a terribly pleasant person.
posted by allan at 9:53 AM on April 18, 2005


What an sad, sad story and what an impressive woman. There is tragic irony in the fact that a person so dedicated to cataloguing civilian deaths by the U.S. military would herself be killed by insurgents, whose modus operandi seems to be indiscriminately killing as many civilians as possible.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:53 AM on April 18, 2005


.

*And another one gone, another one gone, another one bites the dust...*
posted by schyler523 at 9:56 AM on April 18, 2005


.
This is sad, amazing, encouraging. She did all she could to help people. Why am I not doing the same?
posted by 235w103 at 10:11 AM on April 18, 2005


Iraqi Civilian War Casualties
posted by homunculus at 10:12 AM on April 18, 2005


Dios, has it occurred to you that it is not impossible to be against tyrannical dictators and unprovoked aggression on foreign soil?

Is it your belief that it is unpatriotic to criticize policies that lead to the wholesale slaughter of civilians?

You don't seem to have a very good grip on the meaning of patriotism. Not only do the patriotic have the right to question the decisions made by the folks we elect, but the truly patriotic view it as a duty. There is far more to being a good citizen than spouting divisive rhetoric spit out for mass consumption by people who are only concerned with covering their asses and making damn sure the economy doesn't tank before January, 2005.

You may not agree with Ms. Ruzicka's decisions (though I'm hard pressed to see what there is not to like about preventing kids from playing soccer with unexploded bomblets) but she had the courage to act -- actions taken away from the comforts of her ADSL line and cozy chair. When a civilian contractor is killed the right goes to great lengths to paint them as heroic folk rebuilding a ravaged country, I'm not seeing this reaction for a woman who only bothered to concern herself with needless civilian deaths.

If picking up exploded munitions puts her on the same side as the insurgents, you can count me as their ally also. You can also count many soldiers who risk their lives defusing this stuff as insurgent allies.
posted by cedar at 10:17 AM on April 18, 2005


.

The entire world is diminished by her passing.

The freepi and the little green snotballs are already pulling another Rachel Corrie on her and her memory. Damn them!

Real heroes seem to inspire hatred in such cowards while fake heroes garner admiration. I'll never understand that.

Here's another belated one for Rachel while I'm at it:

.
posted by nofundy at 10:59 AM on April 18, 2005


mischief :

And to her family: Your daughter was an idiot. Chalk one up for Darwin.

Mh, assuming that you really were a Marine as you claim (enlisted in 1980 if my memory serves) how do you reconcile the following

HONOR guides Marines to exemplify the ultimate in ethical and moral behavior as detailed in the following list:

* Obey the law
* Lead by example
* Respect yourself and others
* Maintain a high standard of integrity
* Support and defend the constitution
* Uphold special trust and confidence
* Place faith and honor above all else
* Honor fellow Marines, the Corps, Country, and Family.

(Taken from this Marines site)

so how do you reconcile the statement I emphasized above with your previous statement

And to her family: Your daughter was an idiot. Chalk one up for Darwin.

I don't know about your logic, but certainly I wouldn't go to a Marine's family and tell them their loved one was an idiot...it doesn't matter that I think so , I wouldn't do that our of RESPECT for their sufference.

In my opinion you're not a Marine and if you're one you should reconcile your toughts with your actions before shaming U.S.M.C. any more.

Dismissed.
posted by elpapacito at 11:01 AM on April 18, 2005


The freepi and the little green snotballs are already pulling another Rachel Corrie on her and her memory. Damn them!
posted by nofundy


WOW. I've never visited LGF before, and I wish I hadn't. There are some truly nasty people over there. I can't belive the shit they're saying about Marla.
posted by DakotaPaul at 11:24 AM on April 18, 2005


> Oh, really? I'm a decorated US Marine Corps combat vet.

Wow, I'm impressed. How many people did you have to kill for that?

> And to her family: Your daughter was an idiot. Chalk one up for Darwin.

God, and it takes my tax money for fuckers like you to utter things like that.

Can you please go back to a theater of operation get in an ambush? Thank you -- and oh, it'd be great you do that before you breed, you know, just to balance that Darwin thing.

./A
posted by NewBornHippy at 11:50 AM on April 18, 2005


Calling Ms. Ruzicka a "peace activist" reduces her to a label - a label like "marine," "freeper" or "Iraqi civilian." It is easy to attack a label because it allows you to ignore the details of her life. If, in your world view, "peace activist" has been put into the set of all bad people (or the set of all good people), the person that she actually was becomes irrelevant.

Looking at the scant details of her life that are being reported, it appears that she was genuinely trying to deal with and help people as individuals and not as labels. I suppose one has to do that when one leaves the comfort of their home and actually gets down in the trenches to try to make a difference.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:54 AM on April 18, 2005


Bull fucking shit, mischief. I've never served, and I never was in combat. But I respect people who did. Much like I respect all others who's done something worthwhile that I have not. But, in this case at least, I think it takes a lot more balls for a girl to go by herself to a hostile country and clean up cluster bombs or count dead people than to be ordered to go as a part of a group of heavily armed young men supported by every conceivable military technology. And I think you realize that too, and it makes you feel inadequate, and that's why you're lashing out. But dude, it really looks stupid, you're really should stop trying so hard.
posted by c13 at 12:21 PM on April 18, 2005


Can you please go back to a theater of operation get in an ambush? Thank you -- and oh, it'd be great you do that before you breed, you know, just to balance that Darwin thing.

Can someone call Eric Cartman? We need this thread sprayed.
posted by Cyrano at 12:46 PM on April 18, 2005


WOW. I've never visited LGF before, and I wish I hadn't. There are some truly nasty people over there. I can't belive the shit they're saying about Marla.

Luckily some folks here stepped up to the plate and delivered some vitriol of their own (but I stand by my f*ck you to dios earlier - a f*ck you being entirely different than wishing the guy dead).
posted by jperkins at 1:25 PM on April 18, 2005


Damn, I hate having to do this but,

I think a lot of you are missing what mischief is really saying. He, as a marine, doesn't think that American civilians should be in a war zone. period. He was trained to protect and defend this nation and it pisses him off that some "girl" stepped into harms way without him or someone like him being able to do anything about it. He is speaking as someone that has seen the elephant and knows how nasty and dangerous combat is.

It's a shame the girl had to pay with her life for something she believed in. I feel for her folks, I really do. But I have as much or more feeling for the families of our service members that have died or lost limbs due to random bombings. The Jarheads and GIs in Iraq did not ask to be there...Duhbya sent them.

So maybe mischief was a little callus. He's a Jarhead for Christ sake!

( this is just one GIs opinion....if you don't like it ...sue me... just give a vet a break)
posted by The Infamous Jay at 1:33 PM on April 18, 2005


This is what he said: And to her family: Your daughter was an idiot. Chalk one up for Darwin. Did he mean something else by it? I don't know, the statement seems pretty clear to me. The same, by the way, can be said about the GIs. You idiots knew what you were getting into. You knew that if you sign up you get to follow orders that you might not like and be put in harm's way. So why should we feel bad about you? Maybe its because people who put themselves in danger for others deserve respect?
posted by c13 at 2:10 PM on April 18, 2005


c13 , yes, people who put themselves in danger for others deserve respect. I respect Marla for stepping up to the plate. The same goes for every GI, Jarhead, Airman, Sailor,Firefighter, Cop, Peace Activist ect. She deserves a medal.(no shit)

I don't like what mischief said , but I know where it comes from and I understand it.

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posted by The Infamous Jay at 2:42 PM on April 18, 2005


From link 2:

Ruzicka is among several foreign aid workers killed in Iraq. Others included Margaret Hassan, a British aid worker who was abducted in Baghdad in October and later shown on video pleading for her life, and four workers for a Southern Baptist missionary group who were trying to find a way to provide clean water to people in the northern city of Mosul.

Look, everyone, more freakin' idiots!
posted by hackly_fracture at 2:54 PM on April 18, 2005


.

we need more like her--willing to put their lives on the line for stuff they believe in.
posted by amberglow at 3:56 PM on April 18, 2005


They had a great piece about her on the Newshour tonight. She will be missed.
posted by caddis at 7:35 PM on April 18, 2005


He, as a marine, doesn't think that American civilians should be in a war zone. period.

I hate to beat the symantical dead horse with the metaphysical clue stick, but the war is fucking over. Didn't you get the memo? This is the nation-building part of the story. Perhaps you've jumped ahead to the civil war chapter, in which case, you need to wait about a year.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:40 PM on April 18, 2005


CIVIC and Marla were mentioned by Salam Pax; he and his friend Raed Jarrar both worked for the organization, and it was one reason that Peter Maass worked out who he was.

Raed Jarrar's post.
posted by dhartung at 10:48 PM on April 18, 2005


More on Marla at SF Gate.
posted by DakotaPaul at 9:07 AM on April 19, 2005


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The Infamous Jay: He was trained to protect and defend this nation and it pisses him off that some "girl" stepped into harms way without him or someone like him being able to do anything about it. He is speaking as someone that has seen the elephant and knows how nasty and dangerous combat is.

I'm thinking someone who is documenting civialian casulties in war zone has probably got a pretty good grasp on how dangerous that zone is.

Also the whole peace activist label is pretty dismissive. Sounds like she was doing some pretty good first person science. We shouldn't be dismissing the messenger in this case.
posted by Mitheral at 11:30 AM on April 19, 2005


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