Last night, I attended a talk by Sherman Alexie, who was hilarious and at times, biting. One of the curious things he noted, though, was that he had said something about the disastrous conduct of the wasteful war in Iraq, and despite this being an audience of collegiate liberals, no one applauded. He noted that this is his common experience — it used to be that voicing your objections to an unjust war got clapped, but nowadays, it’s old hat. Even people who once supported the war are backing away from it (although it’s rare for them to plainly say “I was wrong”), and the futility of the war has simply lapsed into the status of a given. It has become the background noise of our country. Protest has been ground out of us by the dreary dun of corruption and destruction and the unresponsiveness of our government — we are in a democracy with a large majority opposed to the war, to no effect and with no expectation that our representatives will actually act to end the killing.
So now we have reached the nice round milestone of 4,000 dead in Iraq. 4000 dead American soldiers, that is; it’s almost as if the two orders of magnitude greater number of slaughtered Iraqis, the millions of refugees, the destruction of an entire country, simply don’t matter and don’t count. Americans find it hard to gather outrage over thousands of our own dead, and tens of thousands wounded, and they sure as hell aren’t going to get stirred up over hundreds of thousands of dead foreigners.
I don’t get it.
As a nation, we stand atop a pedestal of bones and ruined lives. The disruption of families is ongoing, and our honor has been thrown away by the greed and ignorance of our leaders. And yet we carry on as if nothing is happening, nothing is wrong, no action need be taken. We will have an election, and one of the candidates stands for amplifying our involvement in this evil chaos … and he stands a chance of winning. The monsters who have perpetrated this crime will walk away to fat retirement checks and lives of wealth in the service of bloated corporate sponsors, and they will not pay — you will.
We all have blood on our hands, and no one cares.
Once, four dead in Ohio could stir us. Now, four thousand dead, a hundred thousand dead, it doesn’t matter … we have all become dead inside.