Thursday, April 19, 2007

More on "wrong place, wrong time"

In response to yesterday’s post about the lack of attention to the deaths caused by an illegal and unjust war in contrast to those of the students at Virginia Tech, I received an e-mail from my friend, Susan Lamont, who is very active with the Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County. She sent the following letter to the editor and expressed doubts that it would be published in our “newspaper of record," the Press Democrat. Here’s her letter:


My daughter Ellen, a Ph.D. student at NYU, called after the killings at Virginia Tech. A teaching assistant for a class on social movements, she had shown her students a documentary on the Vietnam War. The film crystallized her disbelief that there is anyone who lived through that war who can’t see the parallels between Vietnam and Iraq – that our wants do not supersede those of the citizens of other countries.

Ellen observed that daily we read of “56 killed in bombings across Iraq”, “ 32 killed in violence in Baghdad” and that most respond with a “ho-hum, I’m too busy.” Even if we care, we’re “not political.”

The backdrop of our lives is bloodshed. In most movies, for our entertainment, someone dies violently. When a young man suffers a psychotic break, we pump him full of bullets. We bomb, massacre, and torture to fuel our SUV’s.

And a young man in Virginia learned the U.S. lesson well. Just like George Bush, he knew that force is the answer. The beat poet, Diane di Prima, astutely observed, “This death culture cannot imagine solutions that do not bleed.”

But alternatives do exist. It’s time to start imagining them. It’s urgent.

Susan C. Lamont

Yesterday’s post included a link to a Washington Post article, Va. Killings Widely Seen as Reflecting a Violent Society. Scott Horton, an attorney active in human rights, president of the International League for Human Rights, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, has a terrific blog, No Comment.

In his post this morning, The Tragedy at Virginia Tech Viewed from Abroad, Scott summarizes comments from newspapers in Spain, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. From these comments, Scott concludes, “Around the world, America is being portrayed as a land of wanton violence, obsessed with firearms—as the locus of a bizarre death cult. The grounds for this are not simply what happened at Virginia Tech and Columbine High School, but the way the American public has reacted to these tragedies.”

(photo of dead Iraqi child -

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