Take yourself back to 16 April, as the events at Virginia Tech were unfolding. Do you remember the dread deep in your stomach, creeping slowly to take over the rest of your body? Do you remember feeling pain and anguish as you heard about how many were dead? Do you remember feeling shocked at how many people were dead? I do. I remember thinking, how could this be possible, how could so many people, going about their regular lives, going to school, working as teachers, be suddenly and so violently dead. I remember thinking that this amount of violence was impossible to understand, impossible to accept.
And then I started to think about Iraq. What it must be like to be a person living there, trying to live there, trying not to die there. Because Iraq is their home, where their family is, where they have a job. And it was unimaginable to me. Almost daily we hear about Iraqis dying in numbers similar to those on the day of the Virginia Tech shootings. For example, according to the Iraq Body Count Database, on 5 April 2007 60 civilians were killed in Iraq. Nineteen were found dead, executed by gunfire. Another twenty were men who had been kidnapped and then found dead. On 4 April 2007 eleven workers from the Mullah Abdullah power plant were killed in a drive-by shooting. On 1 April 2007 2 Diwaniya University students were killed by US gunfire. Believe me the list goes on … and on … the Body Count Database estimates that between 62,417 and 68428 Iraqi civilians have been killed due to the military intervention in Iraq.
These people, they were just trying to live their lives. And because my country decided that they wanted more control over Iraq’s oil or because the war profiteers wanted um, profits, or because we were convinced that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons these people were not allowed to simply live.
And, god help me, this causes me more anguish than even the Virginia Tech shootings. Believe me, I have fathomless sympathy for the families and the friends of the victims of that horrible day. But those people, they were not killed in my name. They were not killed because my government had decided to do something very wrong. And so I’d like to say, for the record, that I refuse to allow these Iraqi civilians to have been killed in my name. I’d like to go down on record, officially, that I believe that every single aspect of the Iraq war is wrong. I refuse to accept that these Iraqi civilians were killed so that I could be ‘safer’ from terrorists, so I could have access to cheap oil to fuel my car, so that the US could be a power-broker in the Middle East. I will have none of that.
People who know me, know I have always been against this war, as well as the one in Afganistan. But what about people in future? History will not judge our country kindly. And I am a citizen of this country, as much as I despair of that sometimes, as much as I wish I wasn’t American sometimes. And so I must be judged harshly too. When I think about the ordinary citizens of Germany in the run up to World War II, I judge them pretty harshly. I know an individual German was not 100% responsible for the actions of their leader, but what did they do to stop him? What did I do to stop our leader? I went on anti-war protest marches. I called the White House countless times, to voice my opposition. And now that the war is going on and on and on, as more civilians are killed every day in Iraq, as the people who we were supposedly going to liberate are being ‘liberated’ from their very lives in the most cruel way possible, what am I doing? Well, I blog. That seems pretty lame. And actually I still write my representatives, asking them to end the war as soon as humanly possible. But this blog, this post, it is something. At least my voice can be heard by the internet. Perhaps someday historians will take note of all the people who blogged against the war, who did not want the deaths of innocent civilians of a far-flung country on their hands, even metaphorically speaking.