The numbers of the dead
Is it arbitrary? Yes. I admit that.
But numbers have power and different ones affect us in different ways. Remember the year 2000? Remember how ninnies told us that it wasn't really a new millenium and that would start, officially, in 2001? They were right but who cares? All those zeros, the 2K, the MM, those had an emotional effect on people that MMI never would. Does anyone remember a 2001 end of the world cult? Nope. I didn't think so.
Those who support the war, however, want these numbers to mean nothing. Ignore the calendar and the tick marks you've scratched, they say, they're just numbers.
The spokesman for the American-led multinational force called on news organizations not to look at the 2,000 death as a milestone in the conflict. Lt. Col. Steve Boylan described 2,000 figure as an "artificial mark on the wall."Well, he's partially right, except it's not an "artificial mark." There are 2000 dead Americans who wouldn't be dead if we hadn't gone to Iraq. That makes that a very real mark. It's the truth, it's unquestioned, it's not artificial.
"I ask that when you report on the events, take a moment to think about the effects on the families and those serving in Iraq," Boylan said in an e-mail. "The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives."
Is it used by people with specific agendas? You fucking bet your ass it is, Colonel. Just like the conservatives who have been saying for that "3000 Americans were killed" on 9/11 every time someone questions why it is they so badly want to torture people.
Are those motives ulterior? Do you know what "ulterior" means? It means they're not telling you what their true intentions are. Do you think that's the case for AntiWar.com? Is their message too subtle for you? Here's a hint: They're against...something. Alternately, the Wage Peace Campaign say they are for something. Are you seeing the pattern here? Are their motives becoming clearer to you, sir?
Today, those who support this war say, aw, hell, we think one soldier's too many, but, really, 2000 aren't all that many. They say "being in the military is a high-risk enterprise" and a lot of those deaths shouldn't even count because they were accidents. With helicopters. They say that those of us who don't like this war--in other words, a majority of Americans--think soldiers are "semi-retarded victims, children really, who were duped into signing up." They say the soldiers are all volunteers who get paid to put their asses on the line and that people like me don't really care about them (even though, of course, I'm in the Guard and could still be one of them any day, my recent deployment to Afghanistan notwithstanding). No, they say people like me only our base political motivations.
They're good at saying a lot of things that are desperately, embarrassingly, painfully and wrenchingly stupid. They're good at assigning motives while avoiding investigations of their own.
Here's what I say.
As you go to sleep tonight, hawks, roll that number around in your head. Imagine 2000 people gone from your town, your church, your kids' high school.
Then imagine that you're not explaining your motives for war to Sgt. Alfredo Silva, the 2000th person to die in your adventure. Imagine that you're explaining your motives to Marine 2nd Lt. Therrel S. Childers and Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, the first two men to die in combat in the country. Explain to those men all that we know now about Iraq and, honestly, should have known then. Tell them there were no WMDs.
Tell them why they're dead.
Your war wasn't worth the lives of 2000 Americans. It wasn't worth one. Period.