Western Civilization

Eric Arthur Blair, who wrote and achieved great fame and fanfare under the pen name George Orwell, commented in his 1945 essay “Notes on Nationalism” that, “The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”

The capacity of the nationalist to conveniently ignore unpleasant truths that may interfere with his self-righteous historical narrative is indeed remarkable. With the case of the United States, this observation has been taken to extremes perhaps Blair himself could not have conceived of.

Atrocious mass violations of human rights are always cloaked with self-satisfied rhetoric about how the intent was to spread freedom and democracy. The advertised intent of the powerful still seems to go unquestioned in this nation of coerced nationalists, even when the evidence contradicts the rhetoric.

Whether it be the case of 2 to 4 million murdered Vietnamese (we still cannot be sure of the casualty count within millions) for the end of maintaining credibility as a military power and liberating the people from themselves and their misguided attempt at independence; a couple hundred thousand starved Iraqi children (as a result of murderous sanctions imposed upon the benign civilian population of Iraq at the United Nations’ behest) for the purported end that somehow starving his people equals punishing Saddam; a handful or so of democratically-elected Latin American and Middle-Eastern heads of state assassinated (with incalculable suffering imposed upon their unoffending populations) for the end of maintaining control of resources; or most recently, the imperial violence being carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan (with indeterminate levels of civilian casualty being conveniently ignored in favor of election-season gossip) again for the end of control of resources, the point remains the same.

Any time anyone is impolite enough to point out the truth of these events or other historical instances like them, that person is immediately denounced and his or her credibility is thoroughly attacked by the sycophantic, self-serving, and deceitful corporate press.

I firmly believe that Americans are, at the core, genuinely decent people, and if they were merely presented with anything even resembling objective news coverage, many of these atrocities would not have occurred or would have been halted immediately upon their commencement.

The most recent paragraph in the book of unreported American atrocities occurred a few weeks ago, when a bunch of perplexingly disgruntled Afghans, who ought be oozing with gratitude since we began “liberating” them from Taliban oppression, claimed that an American airstrike had murdered close to 100 innocent civilians, and that over half of them were children.

As is customary, the Pentagon, an organization with zero self-interest in the matter, informed the people that they would investigate the veracity of the claims. And surely enough, about a week later, one could read that what had in fact transpired was the slaying of 35 Taliban fighters and merely 7 civilians. Apparently the Afghans who made the claim about civilian slaughter weren’t aware that the relatives and neighbors they thought they knew to be civilians were actually Taliban fighters.

I know that the Department of Defense has always been forthright and honest with the American people, but always being the skeptic, I had to investigate further.

I put my suspicions fully to rest when I read on fair.org that the Pentagon’s evidence was the testimony of none other than honesty incarnate, Fox News Channel’s own Col. Oliver North. If Ollie North says that only 7 civilians were killed, which is of course now an acceptable crime since the Afghans tried to lie and say it was more then that, than that is how many were killed. Period.

The day that we begin to treat “collateral damage” as a somberly serious issue of human rights, and not a public relations issue concerning the sacred image of our armed forces, is the day that America makes its first steps toward ending the cycle of violence and bringing real meaning to the phrase “Western Civilization.”

Richard Haarbauer is a senior political science major and a guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].