Thursday, January 20, 2011

National Tragedy

Some people will not like this, but I’m going to write it anyway. It is my reaction to a piece by Tom Engelhardt at TomDispatch.com which appeared last Tuesday. I love my country and its people, I really do, but sometimes I wonder if we can survive as a nation. The short version of what Tom has to say is something like this.

When something like the Tucson shooting occurs this nation comes unglued. Congress suspends itself for a week. The President comes to the scene to console the nation. The news media speaks of nothing else for two weeks and more. There is endless pointing of fingers and blaming. Talk shows indulge in endless effort to assuage the national trauma. Demands are made for new laws to assure that “this can never happen again.” Endless discussion ensues as to how the perpetrator should be punished.

In Afghanistan today such an event, and worse, happens nearly every week, caused by American armed forces.

No leader comes to the scene to console the nation, because there such an event is not a tragedy, it is “collateral damage.” Their news media talks about it, perhaps, but ours does not even report these events with so much as a mention in passing. Nobody gets blamed, this is war and “these things happen.” They have been happening for nine long years.

The people of Afghanistan cannot agitate for new laws to assure that such things cannot happen again, because these things are not within their control. They are being caused by an armed military of a foreign power in their land. The people of Afghanistan cannot make demands as to how the perpetrators should be punished because the perpetrators are not subject to Afghanistan laws. The people who did those things continue, in fact, to walk the streets, still carrying the weaponry with which they killed the families of the survivors.

The people of Afghanistan can't call for weapons bans, or bans on oversized magazines. The weapons and magazines that were involved in the killings are not within their national purview.

I love my country and its people, I really do, but when I read something like this and think about the facts of this case, on how we so casually inflict upon others that with which we ourselves cannot cope, I have a feeling that I want to bury my flag in the deepest hole that I can dig. I don’t do it because we are better than this.

Tell me, we are better than this, aren’t we?

1 comment:

bruce said...

and of course, the damage their own citizen are inflicting on each other.

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