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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/22/13

Media Coverage of Boston Bombings Shows Human Life Is Valued by Different Standards

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Message Mohammad Ala

The recent bombings in Boston remind us that human life is valued by different standards, especially when it comes to the life of people in Third World countries. 

Western officials were quick to claim that the Boston bombings constituted an act of terrorism, and quickly dispatched over 8,000 officers from various criminal agencies to apprehend those responsible. In short order, two brothers, emigrants from Chechnya in the Russian Federation, were identified as the perpetrators. And, as the world now knows, the elder brother was killed in a police shoot-out and the younger one, a 19-year-old, was taken into custody. 

Of course, most people in all parts of the world agree that no persons have the right to kill innocent people anywhere, by bombing or any other means. It is significant to note, therefore, that on the same day as the Boston bombings, an American aircraft accidentally bombed an Afghan wedding party, which resulted in the deaths of thirty individuals. Little, however, was reported about the incident, and no pronouncements were heard from the Afghan government about a need to search for the perpetrators and bring them to justice. 

When judging the standards by which human life is valued, it is also significant to note that the American media provided blanket four-day hour-to-hour coverage of the Boston bombings, an event in which only four victims (including the MIT police officer) died (though, admittedly, scores were injured, many very seriously). That coverage contrasts tellingly with the media's failure to give even passing mention to the Afghan bombing of April 15, or to similar earlier bombings in which hundreds of innocent people in other countries have been killed. When an unmanned airplane fires a missile, or white phosphorous bombs are dropped on population centers in Third World countries, many innocent individuals get killed.

Other Examples of How Human Life Is Valued by Different Standards

In case after case, and place after place, it is obvious that human life is valued by different standards. Generally, the highest value is attributed to those who belong to the strongest nations; the lowest to those belonging to the weakest. Here are some examples:

-- Many Afghans claim that Western-made arms have been distributed    to various groups in order to destabilize the region and make it easier for Westerners to take advantage of precious minerals and other natural resources.

-- In 1983, U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut were rocked by an explosion that killed 241 Marines. After nearly a quarter of a century, a federal judge ordered Iran (not Lebanon) to pay $2.65 billion to the families of the victims of that blast. The damages amounted to about $11 million per Marine.

-- In 1987, when an Iraqi missile hit an American ship in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. demanded that the Iraqi government pay over ten million dollars to each dead navy crew member, in addition to the repair cost of the ship.  

-- In July, 1988, when an Iran Air civilian aircraft carrying 290 passengers and crew was shut down by a missile from the U.S.S. Vincennes, the U.S. government offered Iran 60 million dollars to cover the damages.   The Airbus A300B2-203 aircraft alone was valued at over this amount.

-- In February, 2010, Christopher Torchia, an A.P. reporter, stated that U.S. Army units follow a system to provide compensation for any death or injury to Afghan civilians or damage to crops and buildings they may cause. Each unit carries a list that gives guidance on payouts: the death of a child or adult is worth $1,500-$2,500; a loss of limb or other injuries  $600-$1,500; a damaged or destroyed vehicle is valued at $500-$2,500; and damage to a farmer's fields $50-$250. (The obtain the compensation, various claim forms must be completed.) 

-- With respect again to the recent Boston bombings, it is expected that additional restrictions will now be placed both on American citizens and non-citizens who travel in and out of Western countries.

Though many people in Third World countries suffer from the prejudicial practices listed here, Westerners are often oblivious to the harm that their own governments cause other nationals. When Western countries inadvertently kill Afghan, Pakistani, Iraqi, or Lebanese individuals, they offer their families a fraction of the compensation they demand for their own citizens. In fact, claims in Western courts have been dismissed when other nationals have submitted them. This demonstrates that the court systems in Western countries have in at least some cases been used as a political tool, not as the judicial forums they are expected to be. It also shows again the sad reality that human life around the world is valued by different standards.


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Iran, pronounced Eeran NOT Eye-ran...".> Hint: Italy: Eetaly not Eye-taly. Iran has been in the region properly termed 'West Asia' -- not the 'Middle East' for thousand of years. (more...)

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