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The Virginia Tech massacre is a tragedy of epic proportions for those involved, and my heartfelt sympathies are with them. I cannot imagine the pain of losing loved ones in this fashion, and it serves as a constant reminder of the fragility of life.
All over America on that day, people rushed to express their grief. Air Force One flew in not more than 24 hours after the event (where was Bush when Katrina hit?), and grown newscasters broke down crying during their reports.
Please, people, a little perspective.
First of all, this was an act of domestic terrorism by a U.S. resident destined to do harm. Planning, plotting, waiting a month to get another gun--this was no spontaneous rage.
But as I sat and viewed the aftermath, all I envisioned was a university in Baghdad. CNN's Kyra Phillips recently interviewed an Iraqi instructor (one of the few remaining professors at the university) and his students. As she did, she flinched, because a bomb went off in the background. The students and teachers didn't move a muscle.
She questioned them about their composure, and they said, We hear bombs every day, and pray they don't get too close--when they hit, we wonder, did our families get hurt? Will I return home to find someone I love dead? Will my house be there?
Every day they go through this, walking by what could be improvised explosive devices on the way to class, listening to explosions as they study, going home to uncertainty. There are no bomb threats; there are bombs. There's no lone gunman; there is a vast array of killers.
As for statistics, Iraq can expect at least 40 civilians to be massacred on any given day. After a massacre, no schools are closed for a day of mourning. No businesses shut down; no politicians stop their campaigns.
What gives me greater pause is that we are aiding this violence, in Iraq and stateside, yet we want so desperately to point the finger at someone else. On the news I hear contempt for the Virginia gunman and the anger in the parents' voices. I wonder what those voices sound like in Iraq--all the parents mourning for their children and looking for answers.
Yes, the Virginia Tech massacre was a horrible incident. But imagine that scenario every day. That is the life we have given the Iraqis, and we wonder why they want us out. Imagine hearing on the news each day about a Virginia Tech. Each day, 40 or more dead. And then imagine it for four years.
My heart goes out to the families of the Virginia Tech victims, but a large piece of it goes out to those in Iraq as well. And I bear the shame as a financier of some of the killing in Iraq, just as I bear the shame of living in a country that legalizes human-hunting devices. May future generations forgive us for creating such deplorable situations.