The Others : WHAT IF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC COULD SEE THE DEAD IN AFGHANISTAN AS WE'VE SEEN THE SEPTEMBER 11 VICTIMS? WHERE WOULD THE 'WAR ON TERRORISM' BE THEN?

By Zinn, Howard | The Nation, February 11, 2002 | Go to article overview

The Others : WHAT IF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC COULD SEE THE DEAD IN AFGHANISTAN AS WE'VE SEEN THE SEPTEMBER 11 VICTIMS? WHERE WOULD THE 'WAR ON TERRORISM' BE THEN?


Zinn, Howard, The Nation


Every day for several months, the New York Times did what should always be done when a tragedy is summed up in a statistic: It gave us miniature portraits of the human beings who died on September 11--their names, photos, glimmers of their personalities, their idiosyncrasies, how friends and loved ones remember them.

As the director of the New-York Historical Society said: "The peculiar genius of it was to put a human face on numbers that are unimaginable to most of us.... It's so obvious that every one of them was a person who deserved to live a full and successful and happy life. You see what was lost."

I was deeply moved, reading those intimate sketches--"A Poet of Bensonhurst...A Friend, A Sister...Someone to Lean On... Laughter, Win or Lose..." I thought: Those who celebrated the grisly deaths of the people in the twin towers and the Pentagon as a blow to symbols of American dominance in the world--what if, instead of symbols, they could see, up close, the faces of those who lost their lives? I wonder if they would have second thoughts, second feelings.

Then it occurred to me: What if all those Americans who declare their support for Bush's "war on terrorism" could see, instead of those elusive symbols--Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda--the real human beings who have died under our bombs? I do believe they would have second thoughts.

There are those on the left, normally compassionate people whose instincts go against war, who were, surprisingly, seduced by early Administration assurances and consoled themselves with words like "limited" military action and "measured" response. I think they, too, if confronted with the magnitude of the human suffering caused by the war in Afghanistan, would have second thoughts.

True, there are those in Washington and around the country who would not be moved, who are eager--like their counterparts elsewhere in the world--to kill for some cause. But most Americans would begin to understand that we have been waging a war on ordinary men, women and children. And that these human beings have died because they happened to live in Afghan villages in the vicinity of vaguely defined "military targets," and that the bombing that destroyed their lives is in no way a war on terrorism, because it has no chance of ending terrorism and is itself a form of terrorism.

But how can this be done--this turning of ciphers into human beings? In contrast with the vignettes about the the victims featured in the New York Times, there are few available details about the dead men, women and children in Afghanistan.

We would need to study the scattered news reports, usually in the inside sections of the Times and the Washington Post, but also in the international press--Reuters; the London Times, Guardian and Independent; and Agence France-Presse.

These reports have been mostly out of sight of the general public (indeed, virtually never reported on national television, where most Americans get their news), and so dispersed as to reinforce the idea that the bombing of civilians has been an infrequent event, a freak accident, an unfortunate mistake.

Listen to the language of the Pentagon: "We cannot confirm the report...civilian casualties are inevitable...we don't know if they were our weapons...it was an accident...incorrect coordinates had been entered...they are deliberately putting civilians in our bombing targets...the village was a legitimate military target...it just didn't happen...we regret any loss of civilian life."

"Collateral damage," Timothy McVeigh said, using a Pentagon expression, when asked about the children who died when he bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City. After reports of the bombing of one village, Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said, "We take extraordinary care.... There is unintended damage. There is collateral damage. Thus far, it has been extremely limited." The Agence France-Presse reporter quoting her said: "Refugees arriving in Pakistan suggested otherwise. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Others : WHAT IF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC COULD SEE THE DEAD IN AFGHANISTAN AS WE'VE SEEN THE SEPTEMBER 11 VICTIMS? WHERE WOULD THE 'WAR ON TERRORISM' BE THEN?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.