Freedom Rider: Killing Children
If America fails to finally find compassion for the legions of “other people’s” children it has killed, then it will never comprehend why its own, internal massacres occur with such frequency. “Indiscriminate violence made America what it is today.”
Freedom Rider: Killing Children
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
"It was a horrible scene and I would not let my Company fire. It looked too hard for me to see little children begging for their lives, have their brains beat out like dogs." – Capt. Silas Soule, witness to 1864 Sand Creek massacre.
“Did we just kill a kid?” – Brandon Bryant, drone operator.
“America has a long history of killing little children.”
Americans love to think of themselves as innocents. As a result, when they are victimized they are not just in a state of mourning, but one of total disbelief when finding themselves on the receiving end of barbarity. In the moment of bereavement and shock the well documented acts of barbarity that have been and still are committed by their country are conveniently forgotten.
The reactions to the killing of 28 people, 20 of them children, at a school in Newtown, Connecticut are understandable. It is difficult to imagine not being saddened and angered by the news of the senseless slaughter, particularly the killings of children only six and seven years of age.
Yet it is wrong to behave as if little children have never before been targeted for death in this country. While president Obama may shed a tear at a press conference and take on the role of mourner in chief, he has ordered drone attacks which have killed young children. Between 2004 and 2012, 176 children in Pakistan were killed by American drone strikes. According to the president’s staff, he personally oversees the assassination “kill list,” which means he ordered the killing of 16 year old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki after having done the same to his father, Anwar al-Awlaki.
“It is wrong to behave as if little children have never before been targeted for death in this country.”
Of course, America has a long history of killing little children. Hundreds of thousands of children were taken from Africa to be enslaved in America, little children were lynching victims and children are now killed by drones, sanctions, and the other aggressions that this country meets out to the rest of the world. Israel, America’s client state, kills children in Lebanon or Gaza or wherever it feels the desire to carry out its evil intent. Entire families have been wiped out in Gaza, but the president who so solemnly mourns the loss of life in Connecticut, defends the carnage when his ally is the perpetrator.
America has a long history of state supported killing and the killings didn’t exclude children. Indian children were victimized from the moment the first Europeans arrived in their land. The British, Spanish and French all brought disease, enslavement and outright slaughter to the first American nations. On November 29, 1864, Colorado militia troops killed over 200 Arapaho and Cheyenne at Sand Creek. The victims were almost all women, children and old men. Eyewitness accounts told of children being shot, a fetus removed from its mother and scalped, and mutilations of many victims such as the Cheyenne chief White Antelope. “Besides scalping him the soldiers cut off his nose, ears, and testicles – the last for a tobacco pouch ...”
“If Adam Lanza had been wearing a police officer or soldier’s uniform, he could have killed anyone he wanted without fear of punishment.”
It is not only possible, but imperative that we remember all of the child victims in this country’s history. When the president goes to Aurora, Colorado or Tucson, Arizona or Newtown, Connecticut or wherever a crazed person kills en masse we cannot just allow ourselves to be drawn along with the tide of emotions. We must stop, think, and remember that indiscriminate violence made America what it is today.
Now we are told that the Newtown, Connecticut killer was unique, evil, crazed. He may have been all of those things but he was not the outlier we are told. If Adam Lanza had been wearing a police officer or soldier’s uniform, he could have killed anyone he wanted without fear of punishment. He also could have expected to have nothing but praise heaped upon him.
Lanza was no worse than the drone operators and soldiers who act on government orders. The only difference is that they have permission from the state and approval of the populace to kill at will. There will be no end to senseless violence unless Americans affirm that they want it to stop and that there should no longer be any sacrosanct killers.
The memorial to the victims in Newtown ought to be soul searching and a determination to change actions which have been considered not only acceptable but beneficial throughout most of this country’s history. If Americans really think that killing is wrong, they must change a lot more than gun control laws.
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.