Tuesday, November 13, 2001
Bombing of Afghanistan "immoral"
Editor's Note: In an attempt to keep the Perspectives section an open forum for those with campus-related concerns, the Arizona Daily Wildcat welcomes guest commentaries. Julian Kunnie is the acting director of the African-American studies department at the UA.
One recent late-Friday afternoon, while I enjoyed the sultry aura of my 9-year-old son's soccer practice at Corte Madera Park, I looked at the clear blue sky and observed a large C-130 U. S. Air Force transport plane on a practice run from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.
All of us felt secure at the practice, I thought, knowing it was a U. S. Air Force aircraft. What if it was in Kabul, Afghanistan, though? How would children at soccer practice feel if they saw a U. S. Air Force jet overhead? It would probably be sheer panic, with children scattering in every direction looking for some form of shelter. Both groups are children, one living in a predominantly Western Judeo-Christian nation, the United States, where the average income per capita is close to $36,000 and life expectancy varies from 67 to 79 years of age. The other group lives in an Asian-Muslim nation, where the income per capita is around $200 per year, and the average life span of a male is 42 years.
We live in a world of striking contrasts. The tragic events of Sept. 11 remind us even more vividly of these divergent realities. Many people who lamented the loss of life at the bombing of the World Trade Center responded with donations of money, blood and scholarship support for the families of the deceased, all noble and laudatory actions.
Many in the underdeveloped world, though, ask: What about El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980s, Rwanda in 1994, Iraq in the mid-1990s and Palestinians today, when millions of people cumulatively died at the hands of death squads or military regimes, many supported by the United States?
In the case of Iraq, as a recent Mother Jones article reports, more than half a million children have died as a result of U. S.-led sanctions, with no serious medical care for infants, like in Basra, where a 6-month-old boy died from suffocation due to the lack of oxygen since the sanctions included medical supplies.
Terrorism in any form is hideous, be it against U. S. civilians in New York or against poor people in Afghanistan, because innocent people die. Why then is there apparently no comparable compassion for children who may not be white, are Muslim and poor? Are we saying that lives in the United States are worth more than those in the underdeveloped countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America, or that middle-class lives are worth more than those who are poor? Is compassion confined to geographical and political borders of the privileged?
The events of Sept. 11 were tragic because thousands of lives were lost. All historical religious traditions, including Islam and Christianity, subscribe to the view that all life is sacred and that nobody has the right to take another's life - since it is a gift of the Creator.
The subsequent U. S. and British bombing of Afghanistan is immoral because it violates fundamental human rights, killing hundreds and soon thousands of innocent people, many of whom are already living in a famine-stricken land and not responsible for the events of Sept. 11. It is racist because it features a group of mostly white and powerful, predominantly-Christian nations ganging up against a poor, underdeveloped Muslim country. It probably is a contravention of international law because it abrogates the borders of a sovereign country with no arbitration of any international court of justice.
Is it not humiliating and absurd to drop food in yellow packets from one plane and cluster bombs in yellow wrapping in another on a defenseless and famine-struck people? Certainly, those behind the bombings of Sept.11 ought to be brought to justice, yet why should poor Afghan civilians bear the brunt of another's crime?
Should all Christians bear the responsibility for the enslavement of African and other indigenous peoples by "Christian" imperial powers? Martin Luther King Jr., in his denunciation of the Vietnam War, asked, "Is our nation planning to build on political myth again and then shore it up with the power of new violence?" He also declared, "It's non-violence or non-existence." We all would be the wiser to heed his prophetic words.