December 17, 2012

Violence: From top to bottom

Nicole Colson, Socialist Worker - Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic senator from California, announced that she would push for a renewed ban on assault weapons on the first day of the next session of Congress. "Weapons of war don't belong on our streets or in our theaters, shopping malls and, most of all, our schools," Feinstein said in a statement.

But so long as "weapons of war" are used in Iraq or Afghanistan or Pakistan or so many other countries around the world, Feinstein has no problems. In fact, this allegedly progressive Democrat has been a major part of the ideological edifice that justified the worst abuses of the U.S. "war on terror"--including physical torture that has led to the deaths of detainees.

The central elements of the "war on terror"--including racist scapegoating of Muslims and Arabs and the use of drones and torture by the military--are not only embraced by both mainstream parties in Washington, but far beyond. Witness the near-universal rave reviews for director Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty, a movie about the killing of Osama bin Laden that firmly asserts that the ends justifies the means when it comes to fighting "terrorism."

How could the enthusiasm for such violence by those at the top of society have no effect on those at the bottom?

... On the day of the shooting at Sandy Hook, Barack Obama told reporters at a press conference, "'There's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do. Whether it's an elementary school in Newtown or a shopping mall in Oregon or a temple in Wisconsin or a movie theater in Aurora or a street corner in Chicago, these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children."

Obama's words no doubt moved millions of people. But the disconnect that they represent is profound. How can the head of the most powerful government in the world--a government that tortures, that justifies bombing innocents, that sanctions the assassination of its own citizens–make a serious plea to end violence?

... Amid the tributes and vigils across the country and beyond was one in Karachi, Pakistan. One picture shows a group of Pakistani children lighting candles to pay tribute to the Sandy Hook victims, with a sign reading, "Connecticut school killing--We feel [your] pain as [you] would feel our pain."

In 2011, a report from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that seven years of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan had killed at least 168 children.

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