Americans were stunned by the violent deaths at Virginia Tech — some 33 including the killer.  Choosing a date at random this month, April 10, 74 Iraqis were killed or found dead, and another 115 were wounded.  Also, four U.S. soldiers were killed and 16 were wounded:

The universal shock and mourning which the Virginia tragedy has stimulated indicates that Americans are truly a caring people when they are directly confronted with human suffering.  And yet it is equally obvious that despite the reports of mass killings almost daily in Iraq and the loss of American lives there, we are trapped in some weird time warp or fog of consciousness that enables us to deny and diminish the terrible suffering that we have unleashed.  One hears reports of our soldiers shooting first and asking questions later — there was a period when signs ordering cars to halt at check points were only posted in English, not Arabic, so that needless shooting deaths became almost inevitable.

What is going on here?  Have we in characteristic American fashion been denying the humanity of those who look different or who practice another religion?  I don’t think racism or bigotry are adequate answers here, although such are undoubtedly involved.  Is it that we are incapable of admitting that we have done the wrong thing in attacking Iraq?  That seems to fit some of our pols.  But the rest of us — or at least many of us — did our best to head off the criminal neocon assault.

Where are we going from here?  I hope that at the very least we can admit that we have done millions of people terrible harm.  Iraq’s population is roughly the size of that of NY and NJ combined — and yet the Iraqis are suffering the equivalent of a Virginia Tech disaster daily!  How long can they or we live with such horrors?  What we are doing to children so threatened in their daily lives?  War kills more than bodies.  It scars the personhood of those who may have survived physical destruction, but who will suffer from a lifetime psychological aftermath inflicted by random violence.

Hopefully Democrats and honest Republicans will press on towards peace in Iraq — as ragged as it may turn out to be.  We have created chaos that our military cannot contain and which is deadening us to the suffering that we are inflicting.  We must get out of there.  I thank the gods that none of my own children are involved. One cannot win such a war.  One can only prolong their suffering — and our guilt!

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent  718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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