What I’m about to say may earn me no brownie points, but … I calls ‘em like I sees ‘em. I have been criticized and called on the carpet by one reader for not addressing the 13 U.S. military men and women who were killed last week during a suicide bombing outside the Kabul airport in Afghanistan. The attack was perpetrated by a branch of daesh, ISIS-K.
Yes, I am deeply saddened by the deaths of these 13 men and women, all of whom were loved and important to many people. However, another 100+ (numbers are uncertain at this time) or more Afghanis were also killed in the same attack, some of them young children. How can I write a tribute to the U.S. military dead without also memorializing those innocent Afghani civilians? Can anyone reading this tell me that the military staff were somehow more important, more valuable people than those Afghanis? If you can, I would very much like to hear your reasoning.
A life. No, not all lives are equal in what they produce during their time here on earth. You have people like Dr. Martin Luther King who did so much good in his short 39 years here on earth, then you have the average John Doe who makes many friends over a lifetime, but his contributions are mainly small, local ones. Does that make John Doe’s life worth less than MLK’s? Certainly not to his spouse, children, grandchildren, and the friends he made over the course of his life. Yes, there is a day set aside every year to honour Dr. King but not John Doe. But you know John’s family has a special day of remembrance for him. He was important, too.
When the evacuation from Afghanistan is complete, when final tally is in, I will likely write about all those who died this month, including the 13 soldiers. But folks, it ain’t over yet. The Taliban, the U.S., and some 96 other nations have agreed to allow the evacuations to continue past the August 31st deadline. At least twice in recent days, additional attacks, presumably by ISIS-K, have been thwarted by U.S. drone attacks, the most recent of which killed Afghan children. As of today, we have no idea what the final tally will be. The end of the story has yet to be written.
And while I’m on that topic, I will also not point fingers of blame at either President Biden, or any of the former presidents who made mistakes that cost lives in Afghanistan. There will be a time to assess what we might have done better starting back in 2001, how we might have prevented the deaths of 2,400 U.S. military and countless Afghanis who have been killed over the past 20 years as a result of our occupation of Afghanistan. But first we must finish the task at hand. There will be plenty of blame to go around, I’m sure, and it must be analyzed, and the entire story told. In time. But the blame is far less important that the lessons for the future we must learn from the mistakes of the past. Today, we get as many people out of Afghanistan as we possibly can, bring them to safety, then figure out how best to help them assimilate into our country, our culture.
I am not being heartless. My heart aches for the families of the men and women who are coming home in body bags, but it also aches for the mother who just lost her child in Kabul, the father who lost his entire family. A human life is important no matter what clothing covers it, no matter what skin colour, no matter what religious beliefs or lack thereof.