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News Link • Philosophy of Liberty

Jacob G. Hornberger: The Banality of Killing

The standard explanations for the Arizona killings are now being set forth, such as widespread violence in America and right-wing extremism. I’d like to weigh in with another possible factor, one that I can’t prove but one that I think Americans ought to at least consider: the fact that killing has now become an accepted, essential, normal, and permanent part of American life. No, I’m not referring to the widespread gun violence in America that liberals point to as part of their gun-control agenda. I’m not even referring to the widespread violence that accompanies the decades-long drug war, especially in Mexico. I’m instead referring to the U.S. government’s regular killing of people thousands of miles away in Afghanistan and Iraq, killing that has now gone on regularly for some 10 years and that has become a fairly hum-drum part of our daily lives. Six people were killed and 14 were injured in the Arizona shootings, including a woman who was shot through the head and a 9-year-old girl whose life was snuffed out. Everyone is shocked over the horror, which is detailed on the front page of every newspaper across the country. But let’s face it: Such killings go on every week in Afghanistan and Iraq and have for some 10 years. Parents, children, brothers, sisters, cousins, grandparents, friends, brides, grooms, and wedding parties. People are killed in those two countries every week, and the killing has now expanded to people in Pakistan. We don’t see those deaths on the front pages of American newspapers. They’re buried on page 14 of the papers in small news reports, if at all. Why don’t those killings get front-page coverage? One, the killings have become commonplace. They’re now just considered normal. Massive death on a massive scale, but normal. We just put all the deaths at the back of our minds. The football playoffs are this weekend. Got to pay the bills this month. Life demands our attention. Anyway, it’s not as if we, the American citizenry, are doing the killing. It’s the military and the CIA that are doing it.

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