Different sort of death?

I suppose that it’s a little premature to name a winner of the Whopper of the Week award, since the week is still very young and the Bush administration seems to have an inexhaustible ability to make outrageous statements. But I think it’s safe to say that Bush’s homeland security adviser, Fran Townsend, is a strong contender. The competition is tough, but they’re really going to have to stretch to top her statement on Fox News Sunday.

Of course, there’s always Delusional Dick Cheney telling us the insurgency is in its “final throes”. But nobody seems to take him seriously any more. In fact, we haven’t heard much from him since then. He may have been sent back to his “undisclosed location” until they can get his medications adjusted a little better. I’d count on him being out of the running for this week’s whopper.

Bush’s constant mantra of “fighting terrorists abroad so we don’t have to fight them at home” is beginning to seem a little absurd, as he continues to repeat it in the wake of the London bombings. The British victims might feel that what is abroad to us is home to them, and might feel that Bush’s insistence that he’s winning the war on terror shows a lack of consideration for our allies.

Even before the terrorists that we’re fighting abroad instead of at home made their latest attack in London, this attitude always seemed a little arrogant to me. It showed damn little concern for the Iraqi people, the people to whom we were allegedly bringing freedom and democracy. At the same time we were bragging about “liberating” them, we were bragging about turning their home into a battleground for the kind of terrorism that we didn’t want to fight at home. Just what gives us the right to declare that goading the terrorists into destroying Iraq is better than fighting them here?

Until Ms. Townsend’s recent interview, the Bush administration managed to be a little subtle about their disdain for the Iraqi civilians and their lives. But it’s hard to find any charitable way to interpret her statement to Fox News. The war in Iraq, she said, attracts terrorists there “where we have a fighting military and a coalition that can take them on and not have the sort of civilian casualties that you saw in London.”

Now I assume Ms. Townsend reads the newspapers a little more than her boss, Bush. So I assume she realizes that dozens of civilians are dying in car bombings in Iraq every week. I assume she realizes that abductions and assassinations of government officials and foreign diplomats are a routine occurrence. Yet, she glibly states that Iraq doesn’t have the sort of civilian casualties that we saw in London.

Of course, “fair and balanced” Fox News hosts wouldn’t dream of asking her to explain just why she expects us to believe that dead Iraqi civilians are not the same sort of casualties as dead British civilians. And I don’t suppose she’ll ever have the opportunity to explain to a grieving Iraqi civilian just why the death of his loved ones is not the same sort of casualty as the death of a civilian somewhere to the West.

The only explanation is that the Bush administration is truly oblivious to the suffering of civilians that they have somehow deemed less worthy than others. It’s the same mentality that allows the Bushies, and their supporters, to have no qualms about the detention and torture of innocent Iraqi civilians. Because when it happens to Iraqis, it’s not the same sort of casualty as if it happened to Americans. This ability to simply write off the sufferings of a civilian population as if they don’t matter should frighten anyone in the world who still has a conscience. And yet, I’m still hedging my bets that even this might not truly be the Whopper of the Week. The week is still young, and the Bushies never cease to amaze me with their ability to continue to be more outrageous than before.

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