Death and War and Us

Posted on 16 Jan 2011 at 4:15pm

A lot of people are being blamed for deaths these days. First we had Wikileaks. Now, no one has shown a single death resulted from the revelations. And yet, the media was awash in condemnations of the danger the revelations would pose for innocent Afghans and the like. Then the Arizona tragedy. The right has taken a lot of flack (some deserved, some not, in my view) over the prospect that its rhetoric could have made a maniac buy a gun, drive out to a Safeway, and pull the trigger. And on the one hand, this is a good sign. Culture of life and all that. Every life matters, every life is precious, every life has value, et cetera. It says something good about America as a civilization that values life. But when you look at our actions as a nation of war, this all comes tumbling down. One of Eabo’s comments triggered this diary. He claimed: “And not one single act of death or violence…has been attributed to talk radio, or sarah palin.  But that hasn’t stopped your fellow travelers from arguing that, has it?”
The thing is, we can attribute deaths to individual politicians. We can attribute them to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell for knowingly misleading this country about Iraq. We’re talking predictably dead civilians on the order of one hundred thousand. And these people lied to make it happen. Then there were the Congressmen who decided war was a light enough matter to be informally declared on only the most skimpy of evidence. We can blame them too. Then we get to the great educated eloquent liberal Democratic president, Barack Obama, who regularly sends robots to drop bombs on Pakistani villages, deciding that the deaths of innocent civilians are acceptable–and only acknowledging this in a joke about the Jonas Brothers, and sends the same robots to Afghanistan. Barack Obama, who relentlessly bombs Yemen, who sends weapons to the region and lies about it. These are the deaths we cause.

These are not simply deaths caused from our passivity (i.e. crime, preventable disease). These are deaths that we directly make happen. Now, you don’t have to agree that every single one of these acts of war is wrong to agree with this single main point: If the United States, as a nation, truly valued life, we would care that our bombs fly across the world and shatter innocent families. We would not relegate our wars to the inside of the front section of the newspaper that only the most dedicated read. We would not accept that a president can wage war in half a dozen countries and not tell us about it. It would bother us that our flag is printed on these bombs, it would bother us that we are the bringers of death, and it would bother us that, across a significant portion of the world, we are the things that go “bump” in the night.  
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