Senseless killings always sting the worst. Last week, when news had spread that deranged gunman Adam Lanza opened fire at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school killing 20 children,untold numbers of Americans experienced horror, shock and then outrage. Those of us in education especially reflected upon how such a vicious act could be perpetrated on the most innocent of innocents?
Of course, within hours of the carnage in Newtown, profiteering politicians were making statements and gearing up to impose new attacks on Second Amendment rights. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaimed on Meet the Press that President Obama should make gun control his number one priority for 2013. Forget about the economy, which is slowly and silently slipping into another huge economic downturn. And California Senator Dianne Feinstein promised that she will introduce legislation banning assault weapons on the very first day the Senate is back in session. Never mind that studies on the same ban in effect between 1994 and 2004 have been inconclusive on whether it reduced violent crime during that time period.
But this piece is not about engaging in the never-ending debate over gun rights in our country. It is about the hypocrisy of Americans who mourn the young victims in Connecticut while totally disregarding the child victims of our government’s war machine overseas.
In the last seven years, first the Bush, and then the Obama, administrations, have conducted a lethal undeclared drone war over the skies of Pakistan near the Afghanistan border. Its purpose is to seek and destroy al Qaeda targets in the now open-ended war on terror. However, those same American drones have killed at least 168 children in the raids, including 69 in a single attack in Madrassah in 2006. Where is the horror, shock, and outrage of Americans over these deaths?
Beyond the innocent children killed, the drone war has disrupted the family lives of many other kids in Pakistan. Strikes that have killed one or both parents have left many kids orphaned and unable to provide for themselves. Many parents have stopped sending their children to school for fear they will end up in the wrong place at the wrong time and because there are reports that American drone strikes have damaged or destroyed local schools. And there are the mental effects of the constant aerial assault; in a poor country like Pakistan, with virtually no psychological resources, families are left to themselves to cope with loss and the traumatic stress of always living in danger of being blown up.
Now, we are told that these attacks on civilian populations are necessary to kill the bad guys and keep us safe. Have we gotten to the point in America where only we count? Are our children’s lives more important than others? Americans claim the moral high ground in world affairs yet ignore the atrocities committed by our government in the name of national security.
Yes, we are dismayed and outraged that 20 innocent children were taken from their parents last week in Newtown, Connecticut, and we have a right to be. But let’s not forget that on the other side of the world, Pakistani parents are suffering because they, too, have lost children to senseless violence; senseless violence at the hands of our government.
So while we mourn the tragic end of young lives, let’s rededicate ourselves to peaceful coexistence. We could provide no greater memorial to the 20 innocent children lost in Connecticut than to pressure congress and the president to stop the drone war over Pakistan and other countries at once. We owe it to parents in those countries. We owe it to ourselves.Powered by Sidelines