Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The numbers of the dead

Today the 2000th American died in Iraq. I don't understand what it is that affects us when things like this happen, when the numbers on the counter all roll up at once and we've reached a new place. It's not just one more soldier, but one more thousand soldiers who've died since the last time this happened.

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."

"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."
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.

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.

Your military.

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.


Blogger Mark said...

Don't forget to tell the hawks that, in addition to telling that to the first two men to die, they have to tell it to the next two, that they are about to die because they are in a war started because of ficticious WMDs

So the President's been a losing gambler, just throwing snake eyes. Sitting at the craps table of the Iraq Casino for over two and a half years. Every day, every month, every year he tosses more and more bloody chips onto the table. But all of his elevens and sevens have been coming up sixes and nines. And as of today the house has collected 2000 of those chips, and they’re not coming back.

He tells us that we can win it all back, if we just keep on throwing down. You may think that this is classic addictive behavior, to continue on as the losses mount up, but of course he disagrees. He tells us that everything that we’ve lost so far will have been in vain, if we don’t keep putting more chips down onto the blood-soaked felt of this craps table. Every one of those chips is a person, with a family, but we can't pay attention to that now. We’re playing for all of the stakes, so all you high-rollers lay down your bets, and he’ll raise them.

Just another roll of the dice.

7:30 PM  
Blogger N. Mallory said...

What about the approximately 30,000 civilian Iraqis who've died in the last 30 months? What about the Iraqi children who've been killed in the crossfire of their liberation or the Iraqi children born with birth defects because of radioactive American weaponry?

It's not just 2000 volunteer Americans who've died based on the lie, it's the dead Iraqis who didn't ask us to go over there and disrupt their lives too. It's the Iraqi women who are facing a huge setback in women's rights. It's the innocent Iraqis arrested for being in the wrong taxi or the wrong cafe at the wrong time and sent to prison where they have no rights and can't even let their families know where they are. It's the Iraqis who had to endure "isolated incidents" like Abu Ghraib. It's the Iraqi who just wants to get her groceries without fear of car bombs or other war zone possibilities.

We haven't just wasted 2,000 American lives on a lie...

6:17 AM  
Blogger Nitpicker said...


As I said at DailyKos, if we wanted to stop Saddam from filling mass graves, we should have done it when he was making them in the late 80s and early 90s. Now we've just provided more bodies if he wants to get back in the business.

6:37 AM  
Blogger Nitpicker said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:37 AM  

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