by Jacob G. Hornberger: The
Kennedy Casket Conspiracy
explanations for the Arizona killings are now being set forth, such
as widespread violence in America and right-wing extremism. I’d
like to weigh in with another possible factor, one that I can’t
prove but one that I think Americans ought to at least consider:
the fact that killing has now become an accepted, essential, normal,
and permanent part of American life.
not referring to the widespread gun violence in America that liberals
point to as part of their gun-control agenda. I’m not even
referring to the widespread violence that accompanies the decades-long
drug war, especially in Mexico. I’m instead referring to the
U.S. government’s regular killing of people thousands of miles
away in Afghanistan and Iraq, killing that has now gone on regularly
for some 10 years and that has become a fairly hum-drum part of
our daily lives.
were killed and 14 were injured in the Arizona shootings, including
a woman who was shot through the head and a 9-year-old girl whose
life was snuffed out. Everyone is shocked over the horror, which
is detailed on the front page of every newspaper across the country.
face it: Such killings go on every week in Afghanistan and Iraq
and have for some 10 years. Parents, children, brothers, sisters,
cousins, grandparents, friends, brides, grooms, and wedding parties.
People are killed in those two countries every week, and the killing
has now expanded to people in Pakistan.
see those deaths on the front pages of American newspapers. They’re
buried on page 14 of the papers in small news reports, if at all.
those killings get front-page coverage?
One, the killings
have become commonplace. They’re now just considered normal.
Massive death on a massive scale, but normal. We just put all the
deaths at the back of our minds. The football playoffs are this
weekend. Got to pay the bills this month. Life demands our attention.
Anyway, it’s not as if we, the American citizenry, are doing
the killing. It’s the military and the CIA that are doing it.
Two, our public
officials say that we’re at war and that people are always
killed in war. Never mind that what we have in Afghanistan and Iraq
are military occupations, not war. The idea is that a military occupation
is a sort of war and, therefore, we shouldn’t let the daily
killings affect our consciences. Moreover, since we’ve been
told that the war on terrorism is considered permanent, we just
have to get used to the fact that the weekly killings will be a
normal and regular part of our lives for as long as we live.
Third, we are
told that the people being killed are terrorists, enemy combatants,
or unfortunate collateral damage. Never mind that our public officials
have had 10 years to kill terrorists and enemy combatants to their
hearts’ content but apparently still haven’t gotten them
all. Never mind that the terrorists and enemy combatants might well
now consist primarily of people who are simply trying to oust their
country of a foreign occupier, like people did when it was the Soviet
Union that was doing the occupying. Never mind that the number of
terrorists and enemy combatants continues to rise with each new
killing. It’s all just part and parcel of the new normality
for American society.
In the process,
life is cheapened – well, the lives of Afghans, Iraqis, and
Pakistanis. The weekly killings of adults and children from those
three countries are relegated to page 14 of the newspaper because
they’re just Afghans, Iraqis, and Pakistanis. It’s not
as if they’re Americans, after all, people who place a much
higher value on human life than others.
forget how, for the last 10 years, the lives of Afghans and Iraqis
have been expendable for the greater good of their society. How
many times have we been reminded, for example, that the deaths of
countless Iraqis have been worth the effort to bring democracy to
Iraq? In fact, one of the most fascinating phenomena about the Iraq
War, an illegal and unconstitutional undeclared war of aggression
that the U.S. government waged against a country that had never
attacked the United States or even threatened to do so, is that
there has never been an upper limit on the number of Iraqi deaths
that would justify the achievement of democracy in Iraq. Any number
of Iraqi deaths, no matter how high, has been considered worth it.
We saw this
same reasoning through 11 years of brutal sanctions on Iraq, which
were imposed for the purpose of achieving regime change – the
ouster of Saddam Hussein from power and his replacement by a pro-U.S.
regime. When Bill Clinton’s U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Madeleine
Albright, was asked by Sixty Minutes whether the deaths of half-a-million
Iraqi children had been worth it, her answer perfectly reflected
the mindset of Washington officials for the past two decades: “I
think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think
the price is worth it.”
How much value
is placed on the life of people, including children, who are sacrificed
for the greater good of society? Not much value at all. Life is
supposed to be sacrosanct. But then again, those are Iraqi people
we’re talking about.
How can all
this massive, regular, permanent death and destruction not affect
and infect a society? Sure, it all takes place thousands of miles
away. Sure, it’s buried on page 14 of the newspaper. We don’t
see the caskets or the burials. We don’t see the crying, the
anguish, or the anger of the survivors. We just go about our daily
business, deferring to authority. Our public officials know what
is best. That is their job. We have to trust their judgment. If
they say that American soldiers and CIA officials have to stay in
Afghanistan and Iraq permanently and just go on killing people forever,
then we, the citizenry, just have to accept that. If they say they
have to expand the killing to Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia or wherever,
then that is just the way things are. They are the experts. They
are in charge.
In the process,
everyone convinces himself that the people who are being killed
are “bad guys” or people who just happened to be too close
to the bad guys, including their wives, children, other family members,
the possibility that the U.S. government – the invader, the
occupier, the interloper – is the “bad guy” doesn’t
even enter into most people’s minds. The thought is too horrible,
too terrifying. It might cause citizens to have to search their
consciences. Easier to simply continue “supporting the troops”
who are “defending our freedoms” by killing all those
people on a regular, weekly basis.
The news media
are reporting that the accused Arizona shooter, Jared Loughner,
tried to join the U.S. military but was unsuccessful. The irony
is that if he had been successful, he would have gone to Iraq or
Afghanistan and participated in the weekly death-fest and, upon
his return, public officials, pundits, media personalities, and
even some church ministers would be hailing his heroism and thanking
him for serving his country by killing Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis,
and others in the “defense of our freedoms” here at home.
Did the normalization
and trivialization of killing and the denigration and devaluation
of life in Afghanistan and Iraq trigger something inside the apparently
disturbed mind of the accused Arizona killer? I don’t know.
But how can such actions not have a horrible long-term adverse effect
on people whose government is permanently engaged in such evil?
from The Future of Freedom Foundation.