Friday, August 17, 2007

It's allright, ma, it's only collateral damage

Imagine if we dismissed the likely deaths of miners lost in a coal shaft or the actual deaths of their rescuers, or drivers crushed by a falling bridge in Minneapolis as "collateral damage." People would be horrified.

"Collateral damage" is a completely insensitive, inhumane, calculating way to use language to diminish the value of life, and to downplay the horror of tragic deaths. But the Bush administration used it often in the description of deaths of innocent men, women and children in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, it's the most accurate way to describe the deaths of people who might not have died if the Bush administration had done the things it's supposed to do. So, indeed, all the deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, military and civilian, are the collateral damage of Bush's incompetence and strident zealotry. The suicides of American soldiers are collateral damage of the wrong war, fought for too long by volunteers who have been exploited by the Bush administration. The deaths in New Orleans after Katrina are the collateral damage of appointing cronies to vital positions of responsibility. The deaths on a collapsed Minneapolis bridge are the collateral damage of an administration who thinks nothing of spending $2 billion dollars a day on an immoral, ineffective war, and thus is bankrupt when it comes to spending on infrastructure. And now, the deaths, and potential deaths in a Utah mining disaster seem to be, partially, collateral damage of relaxed standards of mining safety which have come into practice while Bush's federal mine safety director (who received a recess appointment after Congress rejected his appointment) Richard Stickler has been in charge.

And it's not only human life which has been collateral damage, there's privacy, liberty, security, free expression, justice and the Constitution which have been lost to the Bush administration's feckless approach to governance.

No comments: