Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Through the looking glass

This is an absolutely brilliant, breathtaking statement from Gary Younge in July 11th's UK Guardian...

We know what took place. A group of people, with no regard for law, order or our way of life, came to our city and trashed it. With scant regard for human life or political consequences, employing violence as their sole instrument of persuasion, they slaughtered innocent people indiscriminately. They left us feeling unified in our pain and resolute in our convictions, effectively creating a community where one previously did not exist. With the killers probably still at large there is no civil liberty so vital that some would not surrender it in pursuit of them and no punishment too harsh that some might not sanction if we found them.

The trouble is there is nothing in the last paragraph that could not just as easily be said from Falluja as it could from London. The two should not be equated - with over 1,000 people killed or injured, half its housing wrecked and almost every school and mosque damaged or flattened, what Falluja went through at the hands of the US military, with British support, was more deadly. But they can and should be compared. We do not have a monopoly on pain, suffering, rage or resilience. Our blood is no redder, our backbones are no stiffer, nor our tear ducts more productive than the people in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those whose imagination could not stretch to empathise with the misery we have caused in the Gulf now have something closer to home to identify with. "Collateral damage" always has a human face: its relatives grieve; its communities have memory and demand action.

Read the article here.


G said...

Thanks for posting that. It's brilliant. And it's right.

Lone Primate said...

You know what impresses me? It's how calmly the British are handling this. The Americans are flipping their lids over it more than the British. I have to admit, I admire the nod to simple, obvious wisdom I'm seeing over there: that if you send your troops off to attack someone, you're risking their attacking you in return in some fashion... in this case, by home-grown proxies, allegedly. But at least they're not acting like God's Sacred Applecart has been overturned by unholy demons like we saw after 9/11. I regret the lives lost in that attack too, but when you look at the mound of corpses US policy's left in its wake, you have to marvel that they don't suffer a 9/11 every six months. Anyway, kudos to the Brits for their maturity. Here's hoping they can prevail upon Blair to do the right thing and give Ireland back to the Irish. Um, I mean, Iraq back to the Iraqis... ahem.