Thursday, September 5, 2013

Of Death, Dying, and Denial

To be clear: I think it's abhorrent that chemical weapons were used in Syria and 1,400 people were killed. I think it's wrong. I understand that chemical weapons are banned in the “rules” of war, and I hear people (including our President) saying Assad should be "punished" for using them. But here’s what I also think.

I think any time people are slaughtered wholesale in any country for any reason and with any means, it is abhorrent. I think the 100,000 people who have died in that civil war in the past 2 years have lives no less important, and that their deaths are no less abhorrent than the most recent 1,400. Ask their families if they suffer less over the loss of their loved ones, and I’m pretty certain the answer will be no.

I think that as many as 2.5 million men, women and children being trafficked through every country in this world annually for sex (many of them under 18), forced labor, and war (forced into armed forces) is abhorrent!   I think that 1.2 million children being trafficked into sex annually across this globe – including the U.S. where the Department of Justice estimates approximately 50,000 are trafficked -  is abhorrent. I think that the fact that the women and girls in forced prostitution are dying from Aids and brutality, raped multiple times a day by the men who buy them, is sickeningly abhorrent. Because we don’t know how big trafficking is, it’s hard to measure the number of deaths that result from sex and other forms of trafficking, but estimates are that it is at least 30,000 a year who die because of sex trafficking, many of them under age 24.

I think the fact that 67% of the women who SURVIVED the rapes (they were so brutal and repeated, most died)  in the Rwanda genocide (250,000 – 500,000 women were raped during that 100 days) were infected with HIV and died of Aids.  HIV was used as a weapon of genocide in these rapes! In other words, women were purposely infected.

I think that honor killings  are abhorrent. 5,000 women a year die from honor killings, being killed at the hands of their male family members. This can be death by pouring flammable liquid on them and burning them alive or any other form of murder, but the end result is that they are dead.

I think 22,000 children a year dying from poverty is 22,000 too many!  Just as I believe that 1.4 million children a year dying from lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation, 1.8 million dying from diarrhea, and 1 million dying from malaria is absolutely abhorrent, especially given that these are conditions that could be alleviated if our leaders wanted to use their resources.

Finally, I think that the fact that here in the U.S. the fact that approximately 245,000 deaths in the year 2000 were attributable to low levels of education, 176,000 to racial segregation, 162,000 to low social support, 133,000 to individual-level poverty, 119,000 to income inequality, and 39,000 to area-level poverty is not only abhorrent, but shameful! Who will attack us - a first world country capable of stopping these deaths - for turning away from them, passing policies that led to their deaths or ignoring the circumstances that cause them? Who will hold us accountable?

Every day. Every. Single. Day. Abhorrent and vile acts are committed or overlooked by country leaders in Cambodia, China, India, Pakistan, South Africa and other countries.  Yet we don’t act. Hell, the U.S. refuses to even ratify the Convention for the Elimination of Violence Against Women! (one of only five countries who refuses, the other four being  Iran, Somalia, South Sudan, and Tonga). Yet we are to pretend that the U.S. gives one thin damn about abhorrent deaths - atrocities committed by country leaders?

My point is this: Yes it is bad, but why do we pick and choose? Why is 1,400 dead by chemical weapons more important to us than the millions of others, including those in our own country? Why do we only seem to care when it is a target in the Middle East? What is the REAL reason we want to strike Assad?

All information is not out yet, but part of what we know is they were sold the ingredients necessary to make the weapons by Great Britain, and some information is saying they were sold THE WEAPONS by Great Britain. So, what? We attack Assad for using what our allies sold him but the white countries/allies that sold him the goods get off Scott free?

Not only do we do not have enough information to respond, we have to understand the full possible repercussions of a strike against Assad. He has allies that are supportive, and to believe we are just going up against him alone and that we will fly in, strike, fly out and be done with it makes us fools. We have to be prepared for the fact that it could turn into full scale war, with Assad supported by countries that have weapons we do not want to experience, and then what? Then all bets are off because there are no winners in a zero sum game. None.