Suffer the Little Children

December 22, 2014 at 1:29 am (Uncategorized)

The pre-Christmas Work and a side-writing project have meant that I didn’t get around to commenting on everything I wanted to mention recently. For example, I didn’t post anything about the CIA torture report even though I won’t be able to think about humus in the same way for quite some time. There were others too, but this one I had to write something. I almost titled this “Living in a State of WTF part 2,” but instead I went with a more traditional title.

The massacre of 132 children last week in Pakistan shocked me. That doesn’t happen too much anymore. Call me cynical. Call me jaded. The last time I can recall being shaken like this was the Sandy Hook massacre two years ago. Sandy Hook, I can get almost my head around: From all accounts, a mentally ill loner with easy access to guns; do the math. It could have been a McDonalds or a shopping mall. Instead it was a school. These school killings, perhaps because of the scale, perhaps because of the calculation behind it, less so.  As a guy where I worked said after the Sandy Hook killings, that shit is fucked up. Worth repeating.

I could of course make glib comments about chickens coming home to roost. After all, the Taliban in Afghanistan (who incidentally condemned the action) and their Pakistani cousins were in part the creation of Pakistani Intelligence agencies and are still protected by elements within them. In addition, what isn’t really reported is the ongoing drone attacks the US and Pakistan are carrying out, and which the Taliban claim was the reason for their attack. Who knows how many innocents have been killed indiscriminately by these action?

It’s hard to tally deaths when they are not reported, but the US killings present a callous approach, an almost indifferent slaughter. It’s as if they said, “Well, we’ll probably kill a few terrorists too and probably the civilian deaths will demoralize them.” And I thought Dick Cheney, had left government; never was a man so truly named – how vile, how black the soul of that man must be. Seventy years later the logic of Dresden lives on.

So when six heavily armed Taliban militants scaled a school wall in Peshawar, it was payback they said. We want the military to see the loss of their sons and daughters as we have lost ours. We want them to feel our pain.

But still, it must take a special kind of person to say we’re going to deliberately target children for murder to make a point. It’s worth noting too that a majority of the children were shot in the head. Although, in an apparently irony-free moment, when the Taliban took credit, the spokesman noted their fighters were told not to kill young children.

I’ve not spent a great deal of time in “criminal” circles, but I generally understood it was not cool to kill or target old people, women (especially pregnant women) or children. The Taliban however have edited that list down to young children.  I almost wish there were a god to be dealing out punishment because boys, it wouldn’t be 72 virgins for you. Something warmer I imagine.

To change the subject a little then. I used to watch the TV show Criminal Minds. It’s a well-made show, but I had to give up watching because too made of the episodes dealt with terrible things happening to children. Maybe I’m getting soft.

In the circles I do travel, we used to talk about the decadence f capitalism. the self-destructiveness of this system. How it turns upon its self, creating more and more barbaric atrocities. And there has been no shortage of those. I’d like to contrast that with a report Ian Brown wrote and which appeared in Saturday’s Globe and Mail about a visit to a school he made. This was his description of recess:

Before I left, I stepped outside for recess, where 250 children were about to take a 15-minute break. I figured I’d finally have a chance to see what 132 kids looked like.

You hear the noise coming first. They burst through the metal doors, then stopped, pooling in a knot; then they rocketed off across the playground in 250 directions, for the baseball diamond, the perimeter, for tag and soccer and bullying, for a quiet corner to think and watch. It wasn’t anything special: just a bunch of kids on the last day of school before the holidays, which is not the worst day of school.

I kept thinking I ought to break down in tears of something, sadness or gratitude, but that didn’t happen until later, unexpectedly, as I drove away. In the schoolyard, I just kept trying to count 132 kids, without counting anyone twice. It was harder than you’d imagine: there was a lot of pink and blue, a lot of hats worn low over the eyes, a lot of speeding around. Someone should study all the ways kids run: headlong, daintily, knees high or galumphing, hands open or flat, to cut wind resistance.

It was such a gorgeous sight. They were not running for their lives.

Ian Brown What 132 Children Ought to Look Like


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