Monday, September 06, 2004

Jingoism vs. the national conscience

Why does no American politician, major media outlet, or even one of those rascally liberal 527's make a serious point of the human toll in Iraq other than American lives lost? Are we so callous as a nation that we don't even think to ask the question of civilian casualties in the conflict? We are reminded of 9/11 over and over by those (in both parties) who invoke the loss of American lives when explaining the political rationale for the war in Iraq. That there is no room in public discourse for a solemn moment to acknowledge the dangers that face the everyday Iraqi men, women, and children (a.k.a. "The Liberated") gives me the willies. How can the rest of the world—not just our enemies—do anything but fear us if we collectively refuse to acknowledge any costs except for those incurred by Americans? Are we incapable of both loving our country and believing in being decent citizens of the global village?

Just out of curiosity, what number of non-combatant casualties is acceptable in a war that only strives to create regime change? 3000 lives…a one-to-one exchange rate on 9/11 deaths? 6,000? More? I googled "total Iraq war civilian casualties" today. The only first-page results that were from major media outlets were reports from the BBC and the CBC. They have to rely on the fact-checking efforts of the people at http://www.iraqbodycount.net/. As of September 3, 2004, these researchers have collected news accounts detailing between 11,793 and 13,802 civilian deaths in Iraq since the start of fighting in 2003. (Methodology explained here.) To put that into perspective, I then googled "total population Hershey Pennsylvania." According to the 2000 census, there are 12,271 inhabitants in my charming hometown. If the war in Iraq had instead been the war in Hershey, our bucolic little town would be obliterated completely. Warning to Hershey residents: better not piss the neo-cons off! Protecting the nation's chocolate reserves IS in the national interest.

If you seriously have a moral dedication to the sanctity of life, even if you still believed that the Saddam was an imminent threat to the U.S. or its interests—in which case I merely question your judgment—wouldn't you still grieve the loss of all human lives? Wouldn't you at least try to memorialize the innocent bystanders? Would doing so really dishonor the loss of life and limb suffered by our own service men and women?

If you were even more of a moral absolutist on the sanctity of human life, could you possibly vote for a president who not just allowed, but TRIGGERED the abortion of a population the size of Chocolatetown U.S.A.? I'm always hearing the pro-life crowd beat up the pro-choicers for adhering to a position of moral relativism in the face of a moral absolute. But whom are we kidding—can we really accept accusations of moral laxity when they come from apologists for a leader who has exhibited such blatant disregard for human life? You just can't do it without rationalizing one human life as being worth less than another human life. Go ahead…try…I can't wait to hear the argument.

But what's really shameful is that even the left is pretty quiet on this front. A war based on a theoretical supposition, 11,000+ civilians dead, and not a peep. Wouldn't want to appear unpatriotic. No, sir!


Blogger kelly said...


Whew! I happened upon your blog in the "recently updated" list on the Blogger homepage, clicked off your page to follow the Classic Literature quiz link, decided to email the quiz to someone else, then got hopelessly lost trying to find my way back to you. I Yahoo'd you using as many keywords as I could remember reading on your page, and FINALLY found you with the following combination:

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Anyhoo.... I just wanted to make sure I found you again to tell you: nice blog! Peaceful mix of thoughtful commentary and fun "stuff." I thoroughly intend to check out the "Fluke" book. Keep on keepin' on!.


PS: I'm "Tolkien's Lord of the Rings."

3:30 PM  

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