Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.


Collateral Damage

Yesterday I saw a bumper sticker that read: “I’m already against the next war.” Not to mention the current undeclared ones.

The latest tragedy in Afghanistan – in which an army sergeant, trained as a sniper, left his base at night, walked a mile south and killed 16 people, including nine children in their homes – has raised again the questions: Why are we there? What are we trying to accomplish? Why don’t we leave these people alone?

This is by far the most awful of a series of recent incidents that have incensed Afghanis and ought to incense us – Marines urinating on dead insurgents’ bodies; burning sacks of Korans; NATO helicopters inadvertently shooting civilians while on a mission to flush out Taliban fighters; a group of soldiers killing for sport.

Everyone decries the most recent tragedy, but even the contrition demonstrates how the language of war threatens our sense of decency.

"This is tragic and will be investigated, and that soldier will be held accountable," said Senator Lindsey Graham. "Unfortunately, these things happen in war."

“These things” are the methodical murders of women and children in their own homes.

Newt Gingrich, who pummeled President Obama over the Koran burning for apologizing “to people who are in the process of killing young Americans,” said the U.S. should offer “condolences” and perhaps “compensation” to the families – as if the children were somehow fungible, their lives replaceable.

A random act by a deranged individual – but as Senator Graham said, “These things happen in war.”

For better or worse, this is now Barack Obama’s war, and it is time to end it.

Tell it to a Plant

Shrinking Commons