24 hours have past since at least one person opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard, leaving 12 dead, and 14 injured. The bodies of the tragically slain were still warm when American media commenced its increasingly formulaic breakdown of the accused suspects “profile.” America stood transfixed as CNN’s Wolf Blitzer speculated over whether the deceased accused, Aaron Alexis, was affiliated with any known “foreign terrorist organization,” while Piers Morgan launched into a predictable (and hypocritical) diatribe against semi-automatic weapons. As the body count from US mass shootings mounts, Americans are finally, and with a sense of urgency, beginning to ponder “motivation.” What is motivating people to take up arms, and slaughter innocent humans? The US government, furthered by its dutiful satellites in the media, would have us believe that the debate begins/ends and circles around issues like the right of individual gun possession, mental health screening, and violent video games. While those “issues” certainly find their place in the debate, any person earnestly seeking to stem the tide of senseless gun violence must be willing to stare into a mirror long enough to reflect back the familiar gaze of the enabler within.
Though the actual motivation for any violent offense may only genuinely be known to (s)he who commits the act, it stands to reason that an act of violence against a non-aggressing person can only come from a place where the human being is devalued (not simply a devaluation of the “other” human — the victim– but of ALL humans). While that sounds like a simple, perhaps obvious, statement..I contend that it’s at the heart of the surge of violence against our fellow man. Going further, you’ve likely endorsed it. Don’t pull away from the mirror just yet.. Allow me to explain.
Take a moment to recall some of the actions the United States has employed in the name of “foreign policy” in just the last 25 years: 13 years of merciless sanctions on Iraq. Two wars against Iraq — a war in Afghanistan — bombing of Yugoslavia, Sudan, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen..Somalia. Now, recall how many completely innocent civilians were killed by these military actions. 500,000 to 1,000,000 children under 5 died as a result of Iraq sanctions aimed at harming Saddam Hussein’s regime. Hundreds of thousands of civilians killed in the second Iraq War, though some studies range as high as 1,000,000. Tens of thousands of innocent civilians killed in Afghanistan. Thousands upon thousands of completely innocent men, women and children killed in Yugoslavia, Sudan, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.
NOW, ask yourself:
HOW are these deceased men, women and children from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yugoslavia, Sudan, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen in any way biologically distinguishable from the deceased men women and children in Sandy Hook, Connecticut..or Aurora, Colorado?
The answer, of course, is they’re not. The humans we understand to be killed as a result of “collateral damage” are just as innocent, just as “human,” as those killed in shooting rampages at the hands of well-armed Americans. This inarguable, scientific reality DEMANDS the questions: Why? How? How can Americans fail to see the hypocrisy? How can it wildly object to violence at home, and fund savage brutality abroad? The answer is complex; multifaceted. It’s also simple – we’ve been misled.
Briefly, we’ve been conditioned to accept a two-party political system. We’ve been led to believe that anything falling outside this Republican v. Democrat paradigm simply doesn’t stand a chance. Not wanting to miss our opportunity to participate in the political process, we stand in line for hours on end to vote for candidates with virtually indistinguishable policies (recall during the 2012 Presidential debates, we were treated to an hour of foreign policy “debate” in which President Obama and Mitt Romney seemed more like running mates than opponents). Once in office, our new “leader” helps to convince you that this/that/the other military adventure is not only necessary to ensure your safety, but, morally, the right thing to do. The rules for military intervention are skirted ever more, and before you know it 1,000,000 innocent people are dead.
This is in NO WAY an indictment of you, the American citizen. My only aim in writing this is to illustrate how, I believe, we got to a place where mass shootings are commonplace. We have aided in the devaluation of human life, whether consciously or unconsciously. By voting for people who promise to perpetuate our unmistakeably inhuman foreign policy, and bestowing upon them a right which we ourselves do not possess, the “right” to kill innocent people, we are wittingly/unwittingly ensuring that the value of human life will continue to be degraded. As evidence I present the words from our “leaders” mouths:
Here’s Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State under President Clinton, explaining that the deaths of 500,000 innocent children was “worth it” to accomplish their goals (which of course were NOT accomplished).
Here’s President George W. Bush joking about being unable to locate the weapons of mass destruction which, being the pretext for the Iraq War, resulted in upwards of 1,000,000 innocent deaths.
Here’s Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State under President Obama, joking about the gruesome, videotaped, US-assisted slaying of the the leader of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi. The US intervention in Libya resulted in over 1,000 civilian deaths.
Here’s President Barack Obama joking about the use of predator drones to kill American teenagers. Ironically, President Obama did just that about a year later when a 16 year old American from Denver was slaughtered in a drone attack in Yemen in 2011.
Are we really to turn to the likes of these people to solve our violence problem? Are we to let them dictate the terms of the debate? These are the people who believe that the best course of action to deal with Syrian people killing other Syrian people is to arm more Syrian people, and fire cruise missiles into Syrian cities. Albert Einstein’s brilliant quote defining insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” has been relegated to the domain of platitude with the frequency of its usage!
It should come as no surprise that an increasing number of humans are beginning to understand that the cause-and-effect nature of our universe equally applies to our foreign policy. It’s now generally understood (or remembered) that the act of killing a person has consequences. Where humans once understood the consequence to be “revenge,” arbitrary land demarcations have pushed the act into a new realm, which we now call “terrorism.” In addition to guaranteeing that our foreign policy (and military industrial complex) will be sustained/perpetuated, the “sanctioned” killing of innocent people, particularly on the orders of world-famous, charismatic Nobel laureates or affable executives invoking the morality inherent in a religion (of peace!), effectively soften an otherwise unpalatable act to a point of where it becomes mere pablum for the unchewing masses.
If we, as Americans, have had enough of the senseless killing, our only hope is to recognize the value of life — ALL LIFE. We must remember that the life of an American is JUST AS VALUABLE as the life of a Syrian, or Iraqi..or Yemeni. Withdraw your (tacit) consent.
“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”