I Read The News Today, Oh Boy

Wikipedia has a little box on their website where they report the news, and consequently I am sometimes drawn against my better judgement down a bread crumb trail in the internet to the Real News. While dabbling in the Real News I dwell on such teeth-gnashing inevitabilities of the past week as the 2,000 casualty mark, the increasingly alarming evidence of climate change, the Harriet Miers withdrawl, and the indictments of the various criminals in our corrupt Moron Puppet Government of Evil.

Each of these simple facts of what is Going On in America Today–incipient, pre-dawn Today–is at turns absurd, ironic, obvious and infuriating. I am not the first to notice this. I am simply noticing it Today.

I follow the trail long enough and arrive at the web site of a British newspaper. While reading one recent article, I notice a headline that says, “Wake-up call for US ‘Climate Loonies'” at the bottom of the page. Thinking that this might be the reassurance I’m looking for, that this is an article about how the doomsayers who say that the hurricane season is evidence of escalating climate change are getting ahead of themselves, I begin to flood with relief (no pun intended). I hadn’t even realized I was so truly, terribly worried about it. No such luck. I’ve forgotten that this was England, where they do not subscribe to the American journalistic ethics of transposition of meaning (radical = fanatic, fascist = elected official) but actually call a loony a loony. The loonies they are referring to are the Bush Administration officials themselves, and the wake-up call is in fact the hurricane season, calling to tell us that you can suppress as many scientific reports as you want to, Mother Nature don’t play.

The 2000th casualty earlier this week left me shrugging my shoulders. Of course we would have a war. Of course thousands and thousands of people would die. That’s what people do in wars, when hit with flaming shards of metal moving through the air at thousands of feet per second. They die. When the metal rips through their skin and shreds a vital organ and it bleeds until it has no more oxygen and can’t function anymore, they die. When they are blown into multiple pieces, they die. A human body, it seems, can only continue to house a human soul when whole and intact.

So this is in the news. When hit with flaming shards of metal moving through the air at thousands of feet per second, 2,000 young men and women have died, not to protect our freedom (we are in more danger than ever as our country’s presence and ineptitude grows in the Middle East), not to make citizens of dictatorial subjects (now they are subjects of the dictatorship of American imperialism), not to bring us cheap oil (since the oil is still expensive and the environmental costs do not fluctuate due to the supply currently on the global market), but to put money in the bank accounts of a very few people.

Are we supposed to grieve these distant, meaningless deaths, more violent and untimely than we hope our own will be? Not if we truly understand the nature of this empire. If you do not understand that one life can be worth many times the value of another, that one person’s wealth can be worth the death not of two, nor of two thousand, but of two hundred thousand people, then you do not understand the world you live in.

You live in a world where it is news that 2,000 Americans have died in a war in which ten times as many Iraqis have died. What are we meant to understand from these numbers? That the life of one American is worth that of ten Iraqis? That a full tank of one S.U.V is worth some small but quantifiable fraction of the life of an Iraqi? That a fat contract for Halliburton has a price in human lives, about 32,000 of them and counting?

At least the Founding Fathers were effiicient enough to reduce the brown people of the world to a specific number. Every slave is three-fifths of a man. Well-meaning liberals and moderates often say the Founding Fathers would be rolling in their graves today. They certainly would be. Imagine an America too disorganized to even quanitfy just how many brown people equals one real American.

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