America's indifference to death is nothing new: But it's made this crisis much worse
May 18, 2020
American culture has always demonstrated a callous indifference to death. At our nation's inception, its triumphant rhetoric of equality and democratic revolution excluded any acknowledgment of slavery, or the genocide conducted against its Native population. Over the past two centuries, America's history of uninterrupted war, conquest and exploitation bred into the public too much comfort with the consequences
Fighting for "freedom" during the Cold War meant sponsoring death squads in Indonesia, Iran and numerous Latin American countries. The people of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan learned, through blunt-force trauma and high-tech methods of murder, that American support of democracy is often more a threat than a gift. Noam Chomsky has often remarked on the "hierarchy of victims" that exists in American politics and press coverage of current events. To use a recent example, four dead Americans in Benghazi have value (as of course they should), and lead to a series of Congressional investigations, political debates and fictionalized Hollywood tributes. Hundreds of thousands of dead civilians in Iraq, however, are unworthy of even passing mention from political leadership.