A Note on Afghanistan and Iraq in Sherlock fics
I have recently read several Sherlock fics that basically described Afghanistan as a hell hole. Dry, unforgiving and harsh in both terrain and character. The few fic depictions of Iraq I have read harp on the oppressive heat and barren landscape.* While I understand that characters may perceive Afghanistan and Iraq-at-war as miserable places to be, I would like to remind both authors and readers that Afghanistan and Iraq are countries that a lot of people love and call home. There are literally millions of Afghani and Iraqi refugees who had to leave as a result of the UK/US invasions and who miss their respective countries desperately.
Listening to white people talk about how wretched these places are when their presence is a huge part of what makes them difficult countries to live in is grating at best, and usually just marches straight into the realm of ‘extremely offensive’. If you don’t like it, fucking leave. It’s not like anyone invited you. There is a way to talk about the difficulties of being a soldier without buying in to the (racist) narrative (which helped justify the wars in the first place) positing Afghanistan and Iraq as wastelands of violence and ugly otherness.
*You do not get points here if your depiction of Iraq or Afghanistan (or Pakistan, see: every fic ever about Sherlock rescuing Irene) is fundamentally based on the idea of those places being sexy and exotic. I have written about that elsewhere, but in short, read Orientalism. Just the intro should suffice.
P.S. This is Afghanistan:
And this is Iraq: