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April 03, 2004

Bring out your dead

Mark Kleiman has expressed, most powerfully, many of the thoughts I have been having on the massacre at Fallujah. I have refrained from commenting on the aftermath of this tragedy. I have felt, well, ambivalent at best. I posted my sentiments on the morning the news broke and I didn’t feel I could anything to the fears I expressed in that post. However, last night, in reading the comments section of Billmon’s post on the subject I encountered the same indifference Mr. Kleiman describes. It was not even the indifference that disturbed me so much as the seeming pride in displaying it. I was very discouraged by that. I understand that some people are distrustful of almost anything this administration does. I understand the need to question the use of private contractors in this war effort. What I don’t understand, and never will, is the need to drag these bodies out as a prelude to these discussions.

I saw some comment that they were making as much as $1,000 a day, as though that alone were reason to be indifferent to their fate. I saw some say, “Hey, they were in Iraq, so if they didn’t want to die they shouldn’t be there”. As if a willingness to enter into a dangerous situation in itself precludes the opportunity of sadness at their fate. Unless I am mistaken, I don’t think that discussions about the risk our own police and firemen face, for example, are generally full of the same kind of casual disregard for their occasional deaths. Some suggest, without any evidence I have seen, that they were simply criminals, or hit men. If they were I would like to know. But in America we afford criminals a trial before judgement, and even if found guilty we would not want to associate ourselves with those who would drag them through the street and mutilate their bodies. I for one would condemn any such mob. And even if I felt no sadness at the death of the criminal, I would not feel the need to proclaim that with pride.

Posted by dog1 on April 3, 2004 at 08:54 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink


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Some of the very best kind of Americans have been slaughtered in Iraq now. Bob Zanga, Fern Holland. Many more but I can only carry the weight of two names with me all the time. I think that is kind of what causes apathy and indifference. The weight of resposibility. If we feel helpless to have any power over the situation why carry that weight. The fact that so many Americans are feeling so helpless is very frightening.

Posted by: dosali | Apr 3, 2004 9:38:57 AM

I agree that helplessness is contributing greatly to this cynicism. I just wish we could find a way to attack the causes of the cynicism, instead of the character of the men killed.

Posted by: dog1 | Apr 3, 2004 9:42:59 AM

Cynicism has no place in life. The glass is not half empty. How to "attack the causes of cynicism," attack the Bush administration and all that it stands for? Attack the DOD and the State Department and the CIA and the VP and Bush for lying when they knew better. Attack the press for not asking the questions that should have been asked in 2001 and 2002. Keep up the fight—we can make a difference this fall. Count on it!
Take care

Posted by: Bob Whitson | Apr 3, 2004 7:24:56 PM