The Aurora, Colorado Shootings: Some Impertinent Questions
By Ed Ciaccio
(July 21, 2012)
The cover of today's (July 21, 2012) Newsday features a photo of distraught Coloradans in the wake of the Aurora, Colorado shootings in which a gunman killed 12 people and wounded 59 at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises". The word Newsday has splashed across the top of this photo is "Senseless". Twelve innocent people were killed and many more were injured, some critically. Of course this was a "senseless" act of violence and wanton disregard for human life. Of course such an act must, and should be, condemned. Of course the victims must be mourned and the survivors, their relatives and friends, and their Colorado community, must be consoled and comforted for this horrific act. And steps must be taken to prevent future such acts from ever occurring.
Why, then, are we so complacent when millions of innocent lives are taken by equally senseless violence when it is perpetrated by our own country?
In December, 1989, once Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega had outlived his usefulness as a U.S. pawn in the U.S./Central American wars and drug dealing, President George H.W. Bush sent the U.S. military into Panama City to overthrow him in "Operation Just Cause". More than 1,000 Panamanian civilians were killed and many thousands more made homeless as U.S. forces invaded and shelled civilian areas. Why was this not "senseless"?
Two years later, after Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had outlived his usefulness as a U.S. "asset" in the Middle East, and he foolishly misinterpreted U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie's ambiguous reply as a U.S. approval of his intended invasion of Kuwait, his nation was attacked by U.S. and allied forces in the Gulf War. Once he was defeated and Iraqi forces withdrew from Kuwait, savage, illegal sanctions were imposed on the innocent people of Iraq by Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, resulting in the deaths of more than one million Iraqis, including more than 500,000 children. Why was this not "senseless"?
In 2003, George W. Bush attacked Iraq in a war and occupation which has killed at least one million more people, including hundreds of thousands of children, has caused deformities and birth defects due to U.S. use of depleted uranium in cities such as Fallujah, and has made more than four million Iraqis refugees. This was "justified" by what we now know were lies about Saddam Hussein's supposed links to the 9/11/01 terrorism and his weapons of mass destruction. Why were these U.S.-caused deaths and refugees not "senseless"?
Currently, in spite of the conclusions of the intelligence services of both the U.S. and Israel that Iran is not pursuing development of nuclear weapons, the U.S. and its allies have imposed harsh sanctions, tantamount to a declaration of war, on Iran, which will not discomfort Iran's rulers in the slightest, but will punish its innocent ordinary people, who are guilty of no crime. Why are these punishing sanctions not "senseless"?
The parameters of "acceptable" discourse and the vocabulary in which that discourse must be encoded all mandate that the above official actions by the U.S. must never be equated with such horrendous, senseless violence as that which was committed by the gunman in Aurora, Colorado. Why not?
These violent, murderous actions taken by the United States, for reasons ranging from the flimsy and convenient to outright lies, but all resulting in the deaths of millions of innocent people and the suffering of millions more, are as "senseless" and worthy of condemnation as the Aurora shootings. And the victims of these despicable U.S. policies are as worthy of being mourned, and the survivors and their relatives and friends, as worthy of being consoled and comforted, as those in Colorado.
It is time to change the terms of discourse in this country to include the violence and destruction now being committed by U.S. forces in the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, Latin America, and the Western Pacific (such as Obama's recent drone strikes in the Philippines), ostensibly and officially for our "defense" and "freedom", as well as by U.S. corporations here and abroad against people and the planet, all for profits, until we see these actions as "senseless" and as deserving of both condemnation and prevention as those committed in Aurora, Colorado.
Innocent victims of U.S. military and corporate violence throughout the world already know that they are pawns of policies designed only to maintain or expand the U.S. military and corporate Empire in its insane quest for global hegemony. Only most USans seem to be naÃ¯ve, willfully ignorant, or acquiescent in refusing to acknowledge the "senseless" violence committed in our name by our nation and the corporations which control the U.S. government. It is time more of us grew up or woke up to this grim reality and let the scales of mythical "U.S. exceptionalism", which have blinded too many of us for so long, fall from our eyes.