Reflections on Virginia Tech Tragedy
by Rabbi Arthur Waskow
All America is in shock and tears – and should be – over the murder of 33 students at Virginia Tech.
So the President said: “How horrifying! These people did nothing at all to deserve dying. They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Right. So were between 200,000 and 500,000 Iraqis whom the President’s war sent to their deaths. And more than 3200 Americans. Is there NO self-awareness left in this empty shell of a human being?
How much of America is in shock and tears at the report from Afghanistan that American marines used “excessive force” last month, in a machine-gun rampage that covered 10 miles of highway and left 12 civilians dead, including an infant and three elderly men? One 16-year-old newly married girl was cut down while she was carrying a bundle of grass to her family’s farmhouse. A 75-year-old man walking to his shop was hit by so many bullets that his son did not recognize the body when he came to the scene.
This was not just “excessive force.” In international and US domestic law, it was murder, as were the killings in Virginia.
How many Americans are in shock and tears at the death-a-day statistic being run up in Philadelphia where childen and grown-ups are destroyed by gun violence? Where the state legislature won’t liomit pourchase of handguns to no more than one a month?
All these events are disgusting. Not one is surprising. We have a government of old men who turn guns and bombs into Idols for the worship of their own power. Is it surprising when young men in Afghanistan or Virginia or Philadelphia use such guns to worship their own power?
Certainly these killers bear personal responsibility for their actions. Whatever nightmares, fears, and rage haunted the Virginia or the Afghanistan killers are not excuses for their murders. Neither is the official arrogance that for no legitimate reason sent armies to shatter Iraq, or the official arrogance that turns ownership of assault weapons into a Constitutional right.
If the President is serious about being horrified by the Virginia killings, let him NOW, TODAY, ask Congress to outlaw assault weapons and announce NOW, TODAY, the beginning with commitment to a swift completion for bringing safely home US soldiers from the US occupation of Iraq – an occupation as criminal, and as rooted in the worship of violence, as the murders in Virginia.
And as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel taught,: In a free society, when officials commit crimes, some are guilty; all are responsible.
That means all of us.
visit Rabbi Waskow’s site at http://www.shalomctr.org/