I don’t for one-second question that President Obama's emotions when he spoke to the nation and then to the people of Newtown were totally heartfelt & authentic -- they were. It also appears that the President and Congress might make some strides regarding the availability of assault weapons in our country – on that one we will see.
I just wish that the President had the same concerns and grief about children killed throughout the World by United States attacks, US drones, during his watch. Parents in each of these places, as well as in American cities where children are killed each day, surely carry the same grief, the same holes in their hearts, as the parents in Connecticut.
George Monbiot reminded us last week that:
It must follow that what applies to the children murdered there by a deranged young man also applies to the children murdered in Pakistan by a somber American president. These children are just as important, just as real, just as deserving of the world's concern. Yet there are no presidential speeches or presidential tears for them, no pictures on the front pages of the world's newspapers, no interviews with grieving relatives, no minute to minute analysis of what happened and why.
Writing in Rolling Stone Magazine in April, Michael Hastings’ reported that:
In his first three years, Obama has unleashed 268 covert drone strikes, five times the total George W. Bush ordered during his eight years in office. All told, drones have been used to kill more than 3,000 people designated as terrorists, including at least four U.S. citizens. In the process, according to human rights groups, they have also claimed the lives of more than 800 civilians. Obama's drone program, in fact, amounts to the largest unmanned aerial offensive ever conducted in military history; never have so few killed so many by remote control.
A recent article by Christian Rice is ominously, but accurately, titled, “Is America like Adam Lanza?” Rice uses statistics from the Stanford University Report, “Living Under Drones,” and notes that U.S. drones are killing children and terrorizing families abroad:
176 children have been killed in Pakistan alone and 4.8 children are killed each day in Afghanistan
These deaths abroad are tragic too. These deaths will also affect the loved ones of victims for years to come and their lives are no less-worthy of thoughts, prayers and government or civilian action.
For Americans, the deaths of children in Pakistan and Afghanistan, or Palestine, or even in our own cities, have no faces. They are abstractions, but they’re not. The Stanford Report provides portraits:
Sadaullah, for example, is a 15-year-old from Pakistan who lost both legs in a drone strike. He talked about his life:
Before the drone strikes started, my life was very good. I used to go to school and I used to be quite busy with that, but after the drone strikes, I stopped going to school. I was happy because I thought I would become a doctor. Two missiles were fired at our house and three people died. My cousin and I were injured. We didn’t hear the missile at all and then it was there. The last thing I remembered was that we had just broken our fast and just prayed. . . .We were having tea and just eating a bit and then there were missiles. . . . When I gained consciousness, there was a bandage on my eye. I didn’t know what had happened to my eye and I could only see from one. Before the strike my life was normal and very good because I could go anywhere and do anything. But now I am not able to do that because I have to stay inside. . . . Sometimes I have really bad headaches and if I walk too much my legs, artificial legs, hurt a lot.
How would you feel if you saw your child ripped to shreds by flying shrapnel, in your own house? How would you feel as you rushed them to the hospital, praying every step of the way that another missile won’t hurl down on you from the sky? Your child was innocent, you had done nothing, were simply living your life in your own house — and someone thousands of miles away, in a country you had never seen, had no dealings with, had never harmed in any way, pushed a button and sent chunks of burning metal into your child’s body. How would you feel as you watched him die, watched all your hopes and dreams for him, lost forever?
So in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia as well as other countries, our government, the United States of America, kills children in the name of fighting terrorism. In addition, black & brown children are murdered at an alarming rate in our cities. Yes, we might speak about crime in urban America, but never do we see the compassion, officially from the President, nor through the media and our collective tears that has followed the Newtown massacre. Children are being killed on our streets each and everyday. In Chicago alone, 700 school children were shot in 2010 and 66 of them died.
The lives of these children as well as those we have killed with our drones are every bit as important as the children who were killed in Newtown. But we already know that, don’t we. It is time that the President, as well as the rest of us, builds on our mourning in Newtown. Obama told the Newtown mourners:
Can we honestly say that we're doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm? The answer is no, we're not doing enough. And we'll have to change.