Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Well, now that you mention it ...


Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf attends an iftar, or the break of fast, dinner at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Saar, west of Bahrain's capital Manama August 22, 2010. Rauf, the imam leading plans for an Islamic community right and mosque near "Ground Zero" in New York, is on a U.S. government-funded tour in the Middle East to talk about religious tolerance in America. REUTERS/Hasan Jamali/Pool (BAHRAIN - Tags: POLITICS RELIGION)

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf attends an iftar, or the break of fast, dinner at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Saar, west of Bahrain's capital Manama August 22, 2010. Rauf, the imam leading plans for an Islamic community right and mosque near "Ground Zero" in New York, is on a U.S. government-funded tour in the Middle East to talk about religious tolerance in America. REUTERS/Hasan Jamali/Pool (BAHRAIN - Tags: POLITICS RELIGION)
The aggregator at over at memeorandum is picking up a lot of action on this quote from Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, head of Park51 a/k/a Cordoba House, the Islamic cultural center proposed for construction two blocks from the outer edge of the World Trade Center complex ("Ground Zero"):

We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non Muslims. You may remember that the US lead sanction against Iraq lead to the death of over half a million Iraqi children.

My first reaction is to wonder what in the hell that has to do with the price of tea in China, or with the question of whether or not Muslims are possessed of the same property and religious rights as, and entitled to the same respect for and protection of those rights as, every other type of damn-fool superstitionist (or, as the case may be, non-superstitionist).

My second reaction is to note that the statement is -- especially if the word "government" is inserted after the phrase "United States" for clarity -- undoubtedly factually correct.

Even setting aside the deaths attributable to the US government's murderous sanctions/air war campaign against the civilian population of Iraq from 1991-2003, it remains true.

The bottom end of estimated civilian casualties in Afghanistan specifically attributable to the military operations of the US and its allied occupiers from 2001 to the present is 5,791. That's nearly twice the 2,976 casualties al Qaeda inflicted on 9/11. The top end, including casualties only indirectly caused by the US and its allies (and not casualties inflicted by Taliban or al Qaeda "insurgents") is 28,583.

That's not counting civilian casualties in Iraq, which are apparently many multiples of the Afghanistan figures, but which don't seem to be as well sorted out by who inflicted them.

Nor is it counting all the civilian casualties of both wars, which are attributable to the US government on the same principle as governs criminal justice in the US itself. If you rob a bank and the security guard keels over with a heart attack while you're waving your gun in his face, you're on the hook for murder. If you launch two wars in violation of international law and without even the fig leaf of the constitutionally required declaration ... well, like Colin Powell said, "you break it, you buy it."

It would be downright morally offensive, if we all weren't long desensitized to the Republican Surrealists' penchant for just making up whatever shit they can think of to try and shift blame onto others for the results of their own policies, that Rauf's statement is being portrayed as even mildly controversial.

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