Individual or Collective Costs?

Tom:  Thank you for including that wonderful list of the thousands of individual American soldiers who died in Vietnam.  Recognition should also go to the person or persons who spent so much time and dug through so many records to demonstrate the personal costs of governmental behavior.  It is individuals who live, bleed, suffer pain, and die in war, never collective figures. Like the differences between micro- and macro-economics, real human beings get lost and destroyed in numbers that have meaning only as fungible, faceless collectives that those in power presume to rule, exploit, and consume for their own ends.  The contrast was no better expressed than when George W. Bush’s Press Secretary, Tony Snow, was asked if the White House had any response to the enumeration of 2,500 American soldiers who had thus far been killed in Iraq. “It’s a number,” Snow replied.

To family members whose children are listed on the enormous Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, their losses are not just part of a dehumanized, collective statistic. To the psychopaths of Snow’s persuasion, the totality of such victims remains just “a number.”


12:41 pm on January 22, 2016