by Laurence M. Vance
by Laurence M. Vance
Defenders of Bush and his war of aggression in Iraq are getting desperate — and especially their self-appointed leaders. You can tell by the ridiculous arguments that they are beginning to use.
One of the biggest apologists for Bush and the Republican Party is the self-proclaimed "doctor of democracy," Rush Limbaugh. Not only does he believe that the U.S. military in Afghanistan is "doing the Lord's work over here," he is also an outspoken supporter of the war in Iraq. In Limbaugh's mind, opponents of the Iraq war are all leftists. He apparently has little regard for the first amendment when Republicans are in power, for he recently told dissenters: "When our nation is at war, your duty is to support it, not offer your precious little opinion."
On his August 23rd radio talk show (read the complete transcript here), Limbaugh used the most preposterous argument to date in defense of the war in Iraq:
Now, the number of highway deaths in this country, 43,443 in 2005, is 40 to 50 times our troop losses in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Well, ten or 20 times at least. And a whole lot more deaths per month than any civil war in Iraq, if there was or is a civil war in Iraq. I don't know whatever happened to "if it bleeds, it leads," but there's a whole lot more bleeding on our highways than in the war zone in Iraq out there, and a whole lot more dying going on in the American highway system than there is in the so-called civil war in Iraq. I don't hear a word from John Kerry who served in Vietnam or John Murtha or Joe Biden or Howard Dean. For every Cindy Sheehan, there are 40 to 50 mothers who have suffered far worse heartbreak. Cindy's son gave his life for his country, not for going to the drugstore.
In fact, the roadway deaths is at a highest level in 15 years, 43,443 Americans every year, ladies and gentlemen, and we're here turning ourselves into rags, pretzeling ourselves into contortions over the combat deaths in Iraq, regardless and mindless of the heroic mission that is taking place.
This is lunacy in broadcasting. I think Rush's Viagra and OxyContin are having a severe drug interaction. The "highway deaths" argument is so irrational that it almost seems like a waste of time to even consider it. Yet, I have been asked about it several times, even before Limbaugh's most recent use of it.
I have not been a regular listener to Rush's show since the early Clinton years. One of my faithful readers happened to tune in on August 23rd and notified me about Limbaugh's latest pathetic attempt to justify the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After reading the transcript of the August 23rd show, I thought of six things that I would say in response to this argument. I am sure that others have or will probably come up with more, but since I was just asked about it, and since many of Rush's loyal dittoheads will now accept and parrot his argument, I thought I would make mine public now.
First, why highway deaths? Why not compare the number of dead U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to the number of deaths in the United States resulting from dog bites or drowning in the bathtub or getting caught in a piece of machinery? The answer should be obvious. War proponents need a high number so as to discount the number of dead U.S. soldiers.
Second, does this mean that if 43,444 U.S. soldiers were to die in Iraq and Afghanistan, because it is one more than were killed in auto accidents, that troop losses would suddenly be too high? Or does it mean that if 43,442 U.S. soldiers were to die, because it is one less than were killed in auto accidents, that troop losses would be acceptable?
Third, if the number of highway deaths is the standard for this war, then what about previous wars? We lost 405,000 U.S. soldiers in that "good war," World War II. I suppose then that since troop losses in World War II exceeded traffic deaths that we should say that World War II was an unjust war.
Fourth, if the number of highway deaths is the standard for this war, then what about future wars? Can we say that as long as traffic deaths exceed battle deaths by at least one that any amount of troop losses is acceptable?
Fifth, how comforting this "highway deaths" argument must be to a mother or father who just lost a son! How it must console a grieving wife who just lost her husband! How it must assuage the anguish of a child who just lost his father! Defenders of Bush's wars wouldn't use such a ridiculous, irrational argument if it was their son or grandson who was killed.
And finally, most traffic deaths in the United States were accidents and could not be prevented. That's why we use the term "auto accidents." But the death of every single U.S. soldier killed in battle Iraq and Afghanistan, including those who died from disease and accidents, was preventable. Every death was preventable because there was no reason for the United States to launch these wars in the first place. The shedding of the blood of even one American is not worth anything "good" that has happened in Iraq or Afghanistan. It is supporters and defenders of Bush's wars who are anti-American. Real patriots don't want to see even one American used as cannon fodder for the state. Real patriots want their country to be admired not scorned. Real patriots want their country to be a blessing to the world instead of a curse.
Rush is wrong: Cindy's son gave his life for a lie. He was bushwhacked.
September 6, 2006
Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] is a freelance writer and an adjunct instructor in accounting at Pensacola Junior College in Pensacola, FL. He is also the director of the Francis Wayland Institute. His new book is Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State. Visit his website.
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