VT Vigils Make Us Ignore Other Tragedies
Dear Chancellor Drake,
My most heartfelt sympathies are also with those affected by the terrible events of last week at Virginia Tech.
I write to you nonetheless not merely to share my sympathies with you, but to express my anger. I am deeply disturbed by the message you have sent to the community of UC Irvine. My misgivings lie at two levels.
Firstly, I do not understand why the victims of the massacre at Virginia Tech are alone deemed worthy of special e-mail messages from the chancellor of the university, of candlelight vigils and so on. Consider the following statistics:
Wednesday, April 18, 2007, Baghdad, Iraq: 200 dead in six separate bombings.
March 6, 2007, Hilla, Iraq: 90 dead in two bombings.
Feb. 3, 2007, Baghdad, Iraq: 130 dead in a single bombing.
Dec. 2, 2006, Baghdad, Iraq: 50 dead in a single bombing.
Nov. 23, 2006, Baghdad, Iraq: 200 dead in a series of bombings.
These are only the major ‘incidents’ of losses of civilian life in Iraq in the eight months since I have been at UCI. I do not recall any e-mail messages inviting us to candlelight vigils on their behalf. I do not recall that they were even considered worthy of a single second of serious reflection on any of our parts. Perhaps we are overcome by a surfeit of suffering: Whether one Iraqi dies or 100 is all the same to us, since there are just too many deaths for us to comprehend. What need solidarity, therefore? Yet the ‘families and friends of the victims’ of the more than 60,000 Iraqi civilians (Iraq Body Count, reported deaths only) or the 100,000 to 150,000 Iraqi civilians (Iraqi Ministry of Health), or the 655,000 Iraqi civilians (‘The Lancet’) that have been killed since the beginning of the war