Tuesday, August 26, 2014

We Look at Them, and It's Us

A Palestinian youth wears a bandoleer of cartridge casings left by the Israeli army next to his destroyed home in Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, earlier this month
Chris Hedges was disturbing yesterday in Truthdig. As disturbing as that photo above. He's talking about how repulsed we are by such horrific incidents like the beheading of American news cameraman Chris Foley a few days ago. But also how we don't see the destruction and death our weapons deliver on the heads of both our enemies with guns and hundreds of thousands of innocent women, children, and elderly who don't have weapons, and whose only crime is getting in the way of our fury.
Our terror is delivered to the wretched of the earth with industrial weapons. It is, to us, invisible. . . .  willfully ignorant, we do not understand our own complicity. We self-righteously condemn the killers as subhuman savages who deserve more of the violence that created them. This is a recipe for endless terror.
He then spends several paragraphs explaining how in war, we dehumanize the enemy and anything connected with him, how easy it is to bring people to kill, and how no one is exempt from these debasing processes. This is the final paragraph of the piece. Powerful.
Our failure to understand the psychological mechanisms involved means that the brutality we inflict, and that is inflicted upon us, will continue in a deadly and self-defeating cycle in the Middle East as well as within poor urban areas of the United States. To break this cycle we have to examine ourselves and halt the indiscriminate violence that sustains our occupations. But examining ourselves instead of choosing the easy route of nationalist self-exaltation is hard and painful. These killings will stop only when we accept that the killers who should terrify us most are ourselves.
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