What I Find Very Disturbing About Americans and the Connecticut Shootings

By now, everyone has heard of the atrocious and deplorable elementary school shootings that occurred in Newtown, Conn, that claimed the lives of 20 elementary school children, 6 teachers, and the shooter – Adam Lanza.

In the wake of this horrible and inexcusable tragedy comes another tragedy no less severe: the American people’s complete indifference to the same wholesale slaughter committed upon other groups of children by a faction of our own military. Said one meme circulating on Facebook,

 What I find most disturbing about the Connecticut shooting is that it reveals an essential truth about this county: people are only outraged because it was a massacre that was not sanctioned by the state.

If 18 children were murdered in a Pakistani schoolhouse by a [US military] drone, no one in the media would report it and just about everyone would go about their lives not caring.

Statism has a horrifically dehumanizing effect on how we perceive other human beings that are not American.

I happen to agree with every sentiment in this meme – and, if there is an ounce of humanity within you, so should you.

As the UK’s news agency, The Telegraph, reports on August 11, 2011, that 2,293 people have been killed by US drone missiles, with as many as 775 of those being innocent civilian casualties – 168 of them being children.

The Brookings Institute,  from 2009, estimates that for every militant target killed, 10 innocent civilians died in drone strikes.  In some cases, the United States dismisses these numbers, because, as the Los Angeles Times reports, the families of various victims do not admit that their killed family members were also militant operatives. In the same article, the New American Foundation reports that only between 277 and 435 non-combatants have died as collateral damage out of 1,374 to 2,189 total deaths. That said, these families cannot prove a negative, so the United States has no real solid foundation to refute the families’ words without further evidence.

Can we so readily dismiss the United States’ claims to low percentage kill ratios on innocent civilians?

The Atlantic, on July 18, 2012 , reported specifically concerning the New America Foundation’s numbers reported above, that

The media’s go to source for kill figures in the New America Foundation. But its invaluable work is being cited in support of conclusions that it doesn’t support…

Using reports of drone strikes in those outlets, the New America Foundation does its best to determine the date an attack occurs, the number of “militants” killed, and the number of civilian deaths. Everyone interested in those subjects is indebted to the organization for the work it has done aggregating disparate information. But Bergen and others are repeatedly overstating the conclusions that can be draw from their research. As a result of this wrongheaded analysis, published most prominently at CNN, countless Americans are being misled about our drone war.

To be fair to CNN, there was thisreport published on September 25, 2012,

U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have killed far more people than the United States has acknowledged, have traumatized innocent residents and largely been ineffective, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The study by Stanford Law School and New York University’s School of Law calls for a re-evaluation of the practice, saying the number of “high-level” targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low — about 2%.

The report accuses Washington of misrepresenting drone strikes as “a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the U.S. safer,” saying that in reality, “there is significant evidence that U.S. drone strikes have injured and killed civilians.”

It also casts doubts on Washington’s claims that drone strikes produce zero to few civilian casualties and alleges that the United States makes “efforts to shield the drone program from democratic accountability.”

An independent research site, the Pakistan Body Count, claims that over 12% of all casualties of drone strikes are women and children.

Exactly how many children have been killed in these controversial drone strikes? Obviously, from the above confusion, it is hard to tell. As said above, the UK’s The Guardian and The Telegraph have reported upwards to 168 children killed by indiscriminate drone strikes in Pakistan alone (let alone Afghanistan and Yemen). The United Nations reports that in Afghanistan, more than 578 children were killed or wounded in the first 6 months, two-thirds of which came by way of drone strikes.

The Worst Part: “Double Tap”

The Business Insider recently reported on Josh Begley, a NYU student, who has tweeted every reported U.S. drone strike since 2002. Begley’s feed highlights were very disturbing.

Known as the “double tap,” the tactic involves bombing a target multiple times in relatively quick succession, meaning that the second strike often hits first responders.

2007 report by the Homeland Security Institute called double taps a “favorite tactic of Hamas” and the FBI considers it a tactic employed by terrorists.

UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Christof Heyns said that if there are “secondary drone strikes on rescuers who are helping (the injured) after an initial drone attack, those further attacks are a war crime.”

The U.S. refuses to discuss the merits of its overtly covert drone program, but the reports featured on @dronestream clearly document that U.S. hellfire missiles have intentionally targeted funerals and civilian rescuers.

Sadly, with more increasing evidence, it is coming to light that this same thing is happening in Afghanistan.

If this information proves accurate, this literally means that the US military condones war crime acts that our own government defines as “terrorist tactics” on innocent people – including women and children.

The Mental Detachment

It is extremely hypocritical to express horror at the sight of the atrocious and inhumane attacks in Connecticut while also knowing and maintaining indifference to our own military’s known actions overseas which indiscriminately kill women and children – actions done in the name and with compliance of the American people. To know and remain indifferent to the practices of indiscriminate killing and, most especially, the terrorist tactic of “double-tapping” of innocent civilians demonstrates an incredible state of inhumanity and moral bankruptcy.

In the aftermath of this disgusting shooting in Connecticut, let us also remember the grieving mothers and fathers of the children we have killed through our own terrorist tactics and indiscriminate killing methods that violate our own core just war doctrines.

Sadly, many people reading this article will justify the killing of Pakistani and Afghani children as mere collateral damage – the necessary slaughter of war in (1) securing American freedom and (2) protecting American lives. For these people, I truly and honestly feel sorrow at your own inhumanity. Statism, as mentioned above – i.e. the government sanctioned killing in the name of “war” – dehumanizes the soul of man and divorces him from the reality of the inhumanity of the things he supports.

All life is precious, especially the life of children. When you think of horridness of the Connecticut shootings, think of those children being killed indiscriminately and through the open use of terrorist tactics at the end of our nation’s missiles and bullets – all in your name, and, supposedly, in your best interests.

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