They are in Afghanistan, five of them, killed by US bombs. Today at least, tomorrow who knows. All “collateral damage” for which the US military is “greatly saddened.”
Are you also greatly saddened? Or have you been able to so internalize the moral justification for such killings that you find them unnewsworthy?
Perhaps you hadn’t heard the story at all, that a woman and five of her children, three girls and two boys, were killed Friday night by an errant US airstrike in southwestern Afghanistan. Maybe you were watching CNN, where much of its news coverage focused on a failed plot, originated in Yemen, to destroy a civilian jet airliner. The news media’s choice to highlight the sinister intrigues of the “bad guys,” no matter how serious, helps remind us why [insert euphemism for killing innocent people] is necessary.
It’s a good thing too, because if they didn’t, we might be forced to think about that Afghan family.
The clarity with which we enter our wolf suits and accept the case for war and human suffering in Afghanistan may be obfuscated by the forest of thoughts growing in our heads.
We may have to sail through the treacherous waters of moral deliberation, conceivably through night and day, possibly in and out of weeks, maybe even almost over a year.
We may consider the terrible screams of those dying children, the bloody tears in their terrible eyes, or the stiff lifelessness of their terrible hands.
It is conceivable that we could tame those thoughts by taking them on directly, without blinking once. We could rule them, like kings. We could engage in a wild rumpus of moral discourse, contemplating simultaneously the abstract specter of bellicose schemes and the hard, tangible fact of dying children.
But such a lugubrious rumpus can be lonely business, especially when we can smell, across the world, the sweet scent of certainty.
Why think about the cracking bones and ripping flesh of those poor children? Why try to feel the horror their mother felt as she witnessed the massacre of her loved ones as she herself perished?
It is difficult to be the king of these facts. If you’re not nimble, they may eat you up.
So let us cry “No!” to the terrible screams of those dying children, the bloody tears in their terrible eyes, and the stiff lifelessness of their terrible hands.
Let us escape these wild things, wave goodbye and sail back, over a year, and in and out of weeks, and through a day, to our very own news media, where we will find intoxicating certainty…
And it will still be hot.