Guest Column: Don’t want to see their faces

Don’t want to hear their screams
by Christopher Cooper


See Their FacesExcerpted from Common Dreams column (the article is so good I could not resist the urge to copy and convey under the Coffee Coaster beachhead—though with reference to the full source, but admittedly more than fair use might dictate—a good share of it):

The whole thing is regrettable, really. Shocking, truth to tell. And so sad, I’m sure, for those people, those blanket-wearing, beard-growing, false-god-worshiping, probably-related-to-terrorists, citizens of Afghanistan whose wives and children and babies were gunned down in their beds, shot, murdered, slaughtered, and then burned by one of America’s finest Sunday morning. But hey, what are ya gonna do? These things happen.

It seems the soldier in question was not, in fact, representative of our brave fighting men and women. He was just another in the continuing series of lone gunmen who have been shooting up the world here and overseas for as long as any of us have been reading the newspapers. David Cortright, the director of policy studies at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, tells us “This may have been the act of a lone, deranged soldier.” I saw a headline that said he was a rogue. OK; rogues do as often as not, “go rogue” as no less an authority than Sarah Palin would have us know. So given time to reflect a bit, I guess I’m sorry I impugned our noble troops.

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President Barack Obama summed it up as succinctly and as eloquently as only a man of his unflappably cool reserve could, I suppose: “This incident is tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan.” Well there. And yer goddamn right, Mr. President. Our boys kick butt! We take it to ‘em! We light up the friggin sky! They don’t mess with the U.S.A. and get away with it. You don’t kill three thousand brave American heroes on September the eleventh, ten years ago, and expect your four year old girl to sleep in her own bed unmolested. Unkilled. Unburned. We do what needs to be done to keep America free, and sometimes along the way an enlisted man goes a little nuts. Just one. Just every little once in a while.

Mr. Obama got right on the telephone and called up our “partner” in this whole great reworking of Afghanistan, Mr. Hamid Karzai, and told him we were sorry. Or something like that. He expressed condolences. So did Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. I’m sure those were awkward conversations, but you know, the buck does stop there, and that’s why we pay those boys the long dollar. Speaking of which, compensation will be paid. You betcha. We have a formula. I don’t know, fifteen hunnerd bucks or so. Each.

And we’re even-handed and generous in spraying our condolences and compensations. When we kill civilians as a part of our regularly scheduled, officially sanctioned, presidentially authorized drone strikes, it makes Mr. Obama sad, too. It is regrettable, of course, that so many children will insist on living in the same hovels as the alleged terrorists we need to kill, or with somebody who kind of looks like one of them or who might once have been associated with them in some way. We were attacked, you know, and candidate Obama said his predecessor wasn’t prosecuting the Afghanistan adventure vigorously enough, but he would, and he for sure, by God has, hasn’t he?

Does it feel different to be dead by drone than dead by M-1? Does Obama have nightmares? Did Bush? Do they wash their hands, trying to scrub off the blood? We do not doubt this particular atrocity was perpetrated by a young man gone leave of his senses, but we are not encouraged that he will be tried in a military court, found crazy, demoted, dismissed, given cursory mental health treatment and some time in an institution. We wonder if our Congress and our President should be pronounced crazy, too. Or maybe just criminal. And what about us, neighbor, in our complicity? We who elected them and will re-elect them or others just as cold and cruel and as able to calculate that the life of an Afghan child is not worth much compared to our unending and unyielding compulsion to exercise extreme power in pursuit of God only knows what.

Has anybody thought to ask Barbara Bush about this situation? You’ll remember she said the victims of Hurricane Katrina the New Orleans cops herded into the Superdome (those they didn’t shoot) so they could sweat and starve and suffer among piles of shit and debris for several days, had a pretty good deal: “And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this—this [chuckle] is working very well for them.”

OK! You’re way ahead of me here, aren’t ya buddy? Take Mr. Samad Khan, a farmer who lost all 11 members of his family: wife, kids, maybe an old mom or a crippled dad, for all I know. Eleven times even a thousand dollars each will net him eleven grand. And I’ll bet Afghanistan doesn’t even tax dead baby compensation income. Do we pro-rate babies and old people?

Hell, old Mrs. Bush wouldn’t really have any problem with the midnight murder run itself (yeah, I know, it was three a.m., but I can’t pass a chance at a cheap alliteration without hooking it any more than Lieutenant Calley could leave a peasant hut un-incinerated). Sure, she was talking about her boy’s Iraq adventure, but the emotion is surely transferable: “Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? Oh, I mean, it’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?” A precious thing for sure, you bloated old bag; don’t waste it. Aw, Jesus! That wasn’t nice. I’m sorry, Mrs. Bush. My deepest condolences over the condition of your mind. Fuck, I’m sorry about your whole stupid family.

But I’m not here to “look backward.” President Obama told us years ago there’d be none of that…. Full column here.

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