by Jan Baughman
(Swans - April 23, 2007) Driving to work yesterday, I followed a pickup truck whose bumper displayed four stickers, from left to right: the American flag, "We Support Our Troops," "Glock Safe Action Pistols," and "National Rifle Association." All were emblematic of a week that epitomized our so-called culture of life.
It started on Monday, when a deeply disturbed student killed 32 people and injured numerous others with a Glock handgun -- a Safe Action Pistol that proved to be anything but safe. Virginia Tech will undoubtedly be the victim of lawsuits for not having responded appropriately to the horrific event. We send our children to schools where they enter the doorway to their future, through metal detectors, subjected to random drug testing and mandated No Child Left Behind standards, and our uproar is not, "What kind of society have we created for them?" but rather, "Why was there not a plan in place to respond to the violence?" Each successive tragedy is labeled "the worst school violence in US history," setting the bar higher for the next disturbed killer. And each time we ask, how could this have happened?
Now is not the time to debate gun control and propose legislation, cautioned Senator Harry Reid, while we are in the midst of mourning.
Two days later, the heretofore most violent attacks occurred in Baghdad, with 140 workers -- civilians, just like the Virginia Tech students and faculty -- killed in bombings at the Sadriyah market; 150 wounded. It is a daily event, each time setting the bar higher in the degree of violence and number of casualties. Virginia Tech and more, day in and day out, in a place where it's not safe to go to school, or to the market, or to work...if any of those options still exist. This is the war for which We Support Our Troops. We own this war, and the American Flag flies over the carnage.
How do We Support Our Troops? We put guns in the hands of our children and send them off -- some well trained, some less well trained; some well armored, others less well armored -- to fight unjust wars that maim and kill and uproot innocent civilians in numbers that we could not fathom, if we actually fathomed the humanity of its victims. When our children are maimed or traumatized from our war we quietly whisk them away into a system that cares little for their needs, and since we can't recruit enough of them, we dust them off, pat their backs, and send them back into the fire.
Now is not the time to debate war funding, says the president, while we are in the midst of a war, with our troops in harm's way.
Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld the ban on intact dilation and extraction, a procedure generally performed between twenty and twenty-four weeks' gestation due to a health risk to the mother or a fatal diagnosis for the fetus. Said procedure occurs in about 1.4% of abortions; said ruling may result in the reversal of 30 years of protection of abortion rights, placing government mandates on how physicians care for us in life and death, personal situations. By renaming this procedure "partial-birth abortion," the anti-abortion movement has succeeded in a crusade that has little to do with human dignity and the well being of our children.
"We thank God that the Supreme Court has affirmed the value of human life by banning the Nazi-esque barbarism that is partial-birth abortion," said Focus on the Family Action Chairman James C. Dobson. "The Supreme Court's decision is an affirmation of the progress we have made over the past six years in protecting human dignity and upholding the sanctity of life. We will continue to work for the day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law," said President Bush in response to the ruling.
Now is not the time to fight for the right to abortion, we have said for years, believing that the battle had already been fought and won.
We put guns in the hands of our children to kill a fabricated enemy and innocent civilians; we support the right to bear arms in the name of self-defense, and accept the increased gun violence that leads to increased gun sales that lead to increased gun violence; we put the lives of women at risk in the name of life, and then deny those lives liberty and the means for the pursuit of happiness.
"We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness," said the extraordinary Virginia Tech poet, Nikki Giovanni.
Yes, we are a resilient breed. But how wonderful it would be to allow our children to invent the future through imagination and hopefulness, not with blood, tears, and sadness. Neither with guns nor war, and with a right to choose a destiny in a culture that continues to support and nurture them after they emerge from the womb.
Now is the time to protect human dignity and uphold the sanctity of life, and really mean it.
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