The Virginia Tech tragedy points to a far worse tragedy, the U.S.-perpetrated catastrophe in Iraq.
Credible estimates suggest the number of Iraqis killed since March 2003
as a direct or indirect consequence of the U.S. attack will soon exceed
900,000, or the equivalent of 30,000 Virginia Techs.
Imagine the impact, in a small country, of 30,000 such events rooted
not in the psychosis of an individual but in the murderous foreign
policy of the most powerful force for violence in human history.
A relative to the U.S. population comparison would mean roughly 390,000 such attacks perpetrated against us.
Imagine the impact of 390,000 harrowing events over four years (25 per
day), resulting in 1 in 8 U.S. citizens killed or maimed (while 50
million were displaced) by violence rooted in a foreign superpower’s
Suppose the citizens inside the attacking Superpower responsible for
these monstrosities possessed some democratic capacity to alter the
policies that were killing, injuring and displacing us by the tens of
What would we expect of them? Standing by idly while we continue to
be slaughtered; or, standing up, resisting and opposing unconscionable
and outrageous policies?
What if 80 percent of us demanded the removal of the foreign occupation
forces (as 80 percent of Iraqis demand the withdrawal of U.S.
occupation forces), and they refused? How would we respond?
Refusing to take a stand against social abominations must be
measured against the perils of taking a stand against violent power,
and there are risks either way. How one responds is conditioned by the
limitations and possibilities that historical and social circumstances
impose upon us.
However, we delude ourselves, given global interdependence and
interconnectedness, if we believe our lives will remain free of
calamitous impacts because we passively refuse to confront aggression,
violence, injustice, oppression and war.