It was Grace Kelly, bless her heart, chastely in bed with William Holden, asking about the Bridges of Toko-Ri. Tell me about the bridges, she purrs so very elegantly. And then, "You come at them like hawks from the sky, without one word of warning? Don’t people matter at all?"
That may have been Deborah Kerr. I only heard it once, fifty years ago. The theme was the little matter which was referred to euphemistically during Vietnam as Collateral Damage. Humans, innocent of all but contiguity, dead as a by-product of the mission.
We have to remember there is nothing new in that. I don’t believe there were any statistics taken of civilian losses in the Civil War, as only troops lost counted against the muster for the next day’s fighting. I read somewhere maybe a million point four dead noncombatants resulted from four years combat. (And they are firing the booming cannons in preparation for an annual Memorial Day Civil War Re-Enactment at the park near me at this very moment.)
Then you have Dresden, and Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, and you begin to realize their dead do not matter very much even to the more highly evolved of us. I remember the woeful expression of a captain who had been part of the Court Martial panel which convicted Lt Calley for the My Lai massacre. They wanted to exonerate him as they had his commander, Medina, but his statements during trial gave them little choice. So they had to give Calley house arrest or something. For the deliberate massacre of innocent civilians.
But supposing there was an awakening sense of humanity noticed in the nation. Maybe the repeated slaughter in our wars today of bystanders were sparks fed by the outrage of Karzai, who is demanding an end to air attacks and raids on Afghan villages. (Most recently in Farah province, 140 dead were counted by the local authorities. The US says no, that’s inflated. We have film of only 30 rushing into the building which was subesquently targeted. So we only killed 30. That’s their defense.)
Supposing you are a very sketpical sort who does not believe anything as presented publicly. You see this old horror movie dud called Lon Chaney and he’s even bringing out his daughter to ring the bell for the wonders of torturing captives. What if that is all a diversion? We are invited to spend all our outrage and concentration upon what may have been done to a hundred or two unfortunate souls in our gulag, and others. What if the plan is to maintain that topic so that the outrage in Kabul does not spread to these shores? Maybe the Cheneys are in consultation with certain Democrats at the very top of the heap. The old VP is dead in the water as a candidate, so he will not be able to ride the issue, so maybe the current Administration will make a deal on Gitmo closing, or on wiretapping, or on Military Tribunals, thus taking some of the stench off the previous regime, if the old troglodyte will keep the home fires burning on waterboarding and sleep deprivation. In support of the war effort, you understand, as it would be a distraction if the methods used in a desperate struggle were to become a topic of every press conference.
Can you tell me, please, why else every other blog entry will be indexed by "TORTURE" and nary a one seems interested in all the death cast so freely about at our hands? Maybe the game is working.
I mean, where is Grace Kelly when you need her?