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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Another 9/ll Anniversary

Burned out village in MyLai, Vietnam
  • I am writing this on the anniversary of September 11 because I am still trying to answer the question raised by a young Pakistani girl in an article years ago, "Why is an Afghan’s life worth any less than an American’s?"  The easy answer is, of course, that the life any member of the more powerful group is always perceived as worth more than that of a less powerful group.  Growing up in the deep South taught  me that.   Still, I can’t stop asking why, as Americans , we cannot seem to come to terms with the suffering of other groups besides Americans and Israelis. Why, as this anniversary has come and gone for a decade, are we not also recognizing the horrible toll in suffering and death both the Taliban and our own bombs have taken on a poor and oppressed people?  These people too are victims of 9/11.  Many have had their villages destroyed, parents and children killed or maimed by our response to Al Quaeda’s terrorism.  Our government’s acknowledgement of their suffering has been minimal.  "War is hell," W.T. Sherman said or was it Donald Rumsfield, John McCain, and any number of others who are all too ready to engage in that hell?      
    As an answer to the young Pakistani woman’s question, I would like to ask another, Is an Afghan’s life really worth less than an American’s?  Are the members of the Afghan wedding party killed by American bombs worth less than the innocent people killed in the Word Trade Center Attacks?  We all know the answer, don’t we?    

    Well, don’t we?  And if we do, what better way to answer that accusatory question than by memorializing the innocent Afghan civilians killed in the War on Terror, civilians who had nothing to do with Osama bin Laden, mothers, fathers, children, trying to live as best they could, going about their daily routines and celebrations, much like the janitors, and the secretaries, and the stock brokers, the passengers on that clear, sunny morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

5 comments:

Vicki Lane said...

Well said, Kay. Perhaps we have learned, as a people, to be cautious about trying to right wrongs with force. Or, as a people, maybe we're weary of never ending war...

Glenda C. Beall said...

Great post, Kay.
That is why I hate war. The innocent civilians who had nothing to do with the problem - why must they die?
Those who uphold war want to make us believe there is no innocent person in the foreign country, all of them are our enemy. I never have bought that.

Marcoantonio Arellano said...

we are a country that believes the resolve to any thing that is considered problematic should be addressed with punitive action. That is what is so sad about how our culture inculcates into the mindset of individuals that the discarding of life is te answer. we are desensitized to the loss of life and we carry this into every realm of our existence. We place value on that which is immediate to us and devalue all life that is outside this circle. As a society we need to do much introspection, re-assess our morals and values in our belief systems, ie, politics, relgion, appreciation for all life, etc.

I came to this realization back when drafted to the Vietnam War, told that everyting vietnamesse was our enemy no matter whether child, woman or animal.

Sorry for the run-on but as you can see this is an issue to which I'm very attuned

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Marcoantonio, I was in college and grad. school when the Vietnam war was going on, and I remember so well hearing the soldiers were conditioned to consider any thing Vietnamese less that human or worthy. After I married, the My Lai massacre occurred, and I was sickened by my hometown newspaper defending him. Awful, awful times. You are right that we need some deep, profound reassessment of our values and beliefs. Thank you for your response.

Lori Buff said...

We see this not only in war but in charitable giving. People who want to do something nice but only for Americans. What?! So if someone that is hungry but had the misfortune to be born in another country is forgotten? I've been to places in Mexico where the people aspire to our level of poverty.
Maybe when we stop thinking about border lines and start thinking of people as people then we can be better equipped to end terrorism.
Great artical Kay.