A narrow compassion


Another “terrorist” bombing (probably home grown) with the typical media response.

First the justifiable horror, the loss of innocent lives, the capture of the public commons and always, always the American exceptionalism, the flying of the stars and stripes, the public tributes and never, never a deeper understanding that it is just not Boston or New York which is resilient. It is the human family. Americans  are not exceptional. Most often too many are continually and self-referentially provincial, refusing to understand suffering beyond their own borders.

The excellent journalist. As Glenn Greenwald wrote “But it was really hard not to find oneself wishing that just a fraction of that compassion and anger be devoted to attacks that the US perpetrates rather than suffers. These are exactly the kinds of horrific, civilian-slaughtering attacks that the US has been bringing to countries in the Muslim world over and over and over again for the last decade.”


And this from  a great American think tank the New America Foundation, a research group that tries to track targeted killing which the United States has carried out. So far “the US has launched  422 strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, 373 of them since Mr. Obama took office in 2009, in addition to a handful in Somalia.” The foundation estimates the number of deaths resulting from the strikes to be between 2,426 and 3,969, of which about 10 percent were of civilians and nearly as many of which were identified as ‘unknown.’ An overwhelming majority of the strikes have been carried out by unmanned drone aircraft, though cruise missiles, fighter jets and helicopter gunships have also been used.”

Writer Robert Koehler asked the impertinent question avoided by the chauvinist American press:

Will we ever reach a point where most Americans choose to absorb such data in the context of our own terrible violence? Will we ever reach a point where we feel the same urgency of grief for the victims of the violence that is a fact of life in the Middle East?

Not much universal lessons to be learned here in canada either.The  Globe offered its usual editorial boiler plate about the people of Boston and democracy ‘enduring” but nothing about the shocking continuance of American violence perpetrated abroad as stated above.

The announcer at the Raptor basketball game summed up our own narrowness. ”Tonight  We are all Boston fans”—but we are never never Iraqi fans  or Afghani fans.



  1. 1

    But we are Iraqi or Afghani fans–when a Republican occupies the office of President. If a Democrat occupies the office, then we cease to be Iraqi or Afghani fans. Liberal Democrats can’t do anything wrong. Only Republicans are war mongers, not Democrats–because they talk of change, and peace, and tolerance. That’s good enough. Take those drones and continue killing 5 times more than Bush ever killed, and we won’t mention it.

    But the question I have is why is Obama carrying out these strikes in the first place? Is it because America is blood thirsty? Or is there a real threat in Afghanistan? Are there aggressors there? And if we just pull out and mind our own business, what will happen to the innocent, to women and children? In other words, let’s begin thinking beyond stage one. Are these drone strikes acts of terrorism? Or are they acts of war? The terrorists in Boston targeted innocent civilians, not the military. Does the U.S target non combatants? Is that the intention? If not, then you simply cannot compare the two. They are not comparable, they are not commensurate.

    But it is true, we have forgotten Iraqis and Afghanis. But don’t overlook the reason. We overlook them because we have a Democrat in the White House. Democrats are not warmongers. How do we know? Because they say so. They tell us. The media tells us, and the media is always right. Except Sun News, of course. They just make things up. But the Toronto Star always tells it like it is, so too the CBC. Whatever America does, it’s bad because America does it, but only when the government is Republican. The same is true here. Whatever Conservatives do is bad, because Conservatives do it; whatever Liberals do is good, because Liberals do it. Whatever the NDP do is good, because the NDP do it. Whatever big corporations do is bad, because greed is bad, and big corporations are greedy. How do we know? Because liberal socialists like Ted have always told us so. Don’t you see that?

  2. 2

    dear 49francesco,
    there’s an old irish saying . . .

  3. 3

    Brilliant, Dennis. Just Brilliant!

  4. 4
    wmgrace Says:

    Tough call Ted…but a good one.

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