Do All Lives Matter? (Part Two: War & Peace)

Last week, I told you a little known fact about roadway deaths in America, which accumulated to more than 75,000 people in 2015 and 2016 combined. But the media has been mostly silent about those tragic deaths. Why is that? I shared my ideas (and my disgust) in part one of a series on the value of LIFE in the American Media. Today I continue that series with part two:

Do All Lives Matter? War & Peace
George Washington Crossing the Delaware, by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze

"My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth."
-- George Washington

Just reading our first president's words brings tears to my eyes. First, because I've read extensively about Washington and what he went through to bring this great nation into being. The Revolutionary War was at the same time horrific and glorious, characterized by both needless deaths and deaths that bought liberty so precious, we who are Americans can barely comprehend life without it. Second, because his wish has not come true. War has not been banished. It still rages across the globe, dissipating over here only to flame into life over there, or vice versa. War leaves widows, orphans, mothers and fathers who should never have to bury their sons and daughters and I hate it. I hate it all.

I know you hate war too. I know it -- whether you are liberal or conservative. Even if some people would like to stereotype you into camps: the protesters versus the warmongers.

And by "some people," I mean the American media. Because members of the media, being overwhelmingly liberal themselves, are also overwhelmingly against military action by American forces. This anti-military sentiment waxes and wains on a micro level, but on a macro level, it is consistent. And they use their position in the media to paint an image of war that is one-sided and often out of step with reality.

But you just said you hated war, Jennifer. Don't you want the media to show people the horrors of war?

I do hate war. And I seriously hesitated to write this particular post because of how sensitive this issue is -- because of how easily my thoughts could be misconstrued or taken out of context. So let me be clear: I DO want the media to report on the horrors of war. I want them to critically analyze the reasons for war, the players, the power struggles, the ideologies, culture clashes and chain of events that lead to war. BUT, I don't want them manipulating their coverage. I don't want them editing footage and sound bites and interviews and expert testimonies to SLANT the view of the audience, always tugging their sympathy in one direction, always omitting details that do not support their world view.

Still don't understand why I am making this distinction, when I'm supposedly talking about the value of life? Okay. Maybe my point will be clearer if we discuss an alternate reality for a moment:

Imagine if the roadway deaths in America horrified you enough to pick up your phone and call your representatives. Imagine if you were just so sick and angry by those deaths that you picketed the White House, calling on the president to DO SOMETHING! Something more than meaningless public service announcements. Clearly that's not enough!

Imagine if you were not the only one who felt that way. Political action committees would form, pushing for tougher seat belt regulations, lower national speed limits and tougher penalties for drunk or distracted driving. Politicians would start putting these sentiments into their speeches and talking points. They would wear little green ribbons to bring awareness to the cause and rally impassioned celebrities like Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn and Uma Thurman to talk about roadway deaths with the same vim and vigor as they have spoken out against war.

Can't imagine that? Me neither. No political points can be scored when Republicans and Democrats have a common cause, right? No matter how many people are dying. So maybe we can imagine it the other way around:

Imagine that 40,000 Americans lost their lives on the battlefield in 2016 instead of on the roadways. I don't think even Obama would have survived that unscathed. Think about the memorials that would be erected, the documentaries, the fictional interpretations of the tragedy of those lives lost.
From Do All Lives Matter? (Part One)

Imagine Michael Moore frothing at the mouth, counting down the seconds that passed while Obama did nothing.

Instead, you didn't even know about their deaths. The media didn't care because there is no controversy to make them feel morally superior or drive up their ratings. Celebrities didn't care because there was no great villain, like George W. Bush, to blame. They are just dead people on the highways. Nothing to see here. Same ol' same ol'. Go back to screaming about health care and Trump's wall.

Yeah, but deaths on the highway can't be compared to deaths on the battlefield. Those deaths are accidental, not the result of some Cowboy American president with an Imperialistic attitude sending American troops somewhere they have no business being, just to add bank to the Military Industrial Complex and protect our access to natural resource. (I know that's what some of you believe, so we might as well talk about it.)

First, if ^^ that's what you think, then you're proving my point, regurgitating every bit of unfounded propaganda ever conceived in liberal think tanks across America and then spewed from the media for the past twenty years. It's so cliche -- and so unfounded -- it's almost laughable.

Second, you're wrong again. Because all lives matter, remember? Those traffic fatalities? That's a father whose not going to his little girl's soccer game, or a mother who won't teach her daughter to shoot a basketball.  That's a little girl who won't live to try out for track in the sixth grade. Don't tell me they are not important enough for Uma Thurman to mention at the Oscars.

And the media MUST be held to account for their complicity in skewing information about death and wars to prop up their own agenda.

Why? What harm does it do to show people only the tragic cost of war?

What harm? Ignorance. Consider these facts:

A 2016 poll found that one in three millennials believed George W. Bush was responsible for more deaths than Communist Dictator Joseph Stalin. I want you to think about that for a minute: both how inaccurate it is and what it says about the American media and the American education system. Stalin was responsible for millions upon millions of deaths in the Soviet Union. Google it. He killed more people than Hitler. How could millennials not know that? And what about Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong, who was also responsible for millions of deaths? Or what about the deaths attributed to communist leadership in North Korea? Again, we're counting in the millions. Why don't those lives matter? Why don't millennials know about these deaths?

They don't know because academia portrays communism in theoretical terms (positive) not in practical or historical terms (extremely negative). They don't know because the news media vilified Bush every day he was in office. And young absorbent minds extrapolated the vitriol they heard, let their emotions take over and blew it out of proportion, heedless and mindless of the facts. (Interesting that no similar sentiment gained traction in the news when Obama lied about healthcare, which also resulted in deaths. Also interesting that war protesters like Cindy Sheehan were given a bullhorn by the media to protest war deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan during Bush's years in the Oval Office, but then virtually ignored once Obama took office (even though more soldiers died under Obama's tenure than under Bush's.))

But don't distract me with the facts. Bush was the evil one. Not Stalin or Mao. Definitely not Obama. Just ask one-third of all millennials.

Ancient history, you say. Stalin is dead, so is Mao. Whatever they did is no excuse for the United States to involve ourselves in war overseas.

One of the things that bothers me the most about liberal political thought is how inconsistent it is. On the one hand, conservatives are racist and xenophobic if we show the slightest concern about refugees coming to America from countries with known ties to terrorism (even though the pattern of behavior in European nations gives us realistic cause for concern), but on the other hand, conservatives are hateful warmongers for wanting to go to those same areas and potentially sacrifice our lives on behalf of the (non-white) people who live there. Does that make any sense to you?

Consider this: The United States sent troops to Korea in 1950 to help the South Koreans push back invading communist forces from the north. The conflict lasted three years, costing America 36,000 lives, which is a horrible, horrible price. But what if we had not been there? Well, then the communist regime of North Korea would have taken over South Korea as well. No free market, no industry that provides millions of jobs (Samsung? Hyundai?) only more people starving to death under a real life Dystopian regime, with more power to build its nuclear arsenal. And, by the way, there were exactly zero natural resources for us to exploit in Korea.

The story of Vietnam is not that different, except for its tragic outcome. We went to Vietnam to push back communist forces who were trying to take over. As a result, more than 58,000 American soldiers lost their lives. It was a terrible, terrible cost and we failed -- not because we couldn't succeed, but because our Republican president, Richard Nixon, had to resign in disgrace after committing crimes in the Oval Office. The backlash of that was a change in congressional power at the next election, giving Democrats control. Those Democrats voted to break the treaty America had signed with North and South Vietnam in Paris, de-funding the South Vietnamese war effort to hold back the Viet Cong. Why did they do this? Because they were against the war, just like Walter Cronkite, the most trusted journalist in America, who was subtly slanting CBS news coverage to show the horrors of the war, but never the victories. American soldiers were depicted as dejected, worried and overwhelmed or worse, as evil baby killers. The true stories of American troops helping Vietnamese villagers? Pushing back the enemy? Or how student protesters in America were sending money and supplies to the Viet Cong, literally aiding the enemy without repercussion -- the same Viet Cong who were manipulating, intimidating and murdering Vietnamese villagers? Those stories were never aired, so America didn't know they were true.

What about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? A senseless loss of lives, just for oil and vengeance.

Believe that if you want, but consider this: even if oil is a motivating factor, it's not all about acquiring oil for ourselves, but KEEPING the oil away from pernicious enemies, like Al Qaeda and now ISIS, who can use it to fund their campaigns of terror (a problem predicted by President Bush ... you know, the dummy).

Can I remind you that, no matter what you think about the war in Iraq, Saddam Hussein was an evil, evil man, who committed genocide on the Kurds? That his sons were so cruel and evil, they built torture chambers under the Olympic stadium in Baghdad, just to punish athletes who didn't perform to their liking? That Al Qaeda and ISIS oppress and mutilate and slaughter women and gay people and religious minorities like the Yazidi and Christians (Yes! Christians are religious minorities in the Middle East, and they are being imprisoned and tortured and slaughtered right now, while the western media remains silent about it because it does not match their narrative.)

But we have no business being there, right? Let's embrace PEACE. In other words, let's just sit in our safe, American homes with our clean running water, our safe neighborhoods and our lattes from Starbucks. In fact, let's gather in front of Starbucks to protest our sons and daughters going to war. "PEACE, PEACE!" we cry, giving no thought to the millions of lives being sacrificed on the alter of fanatical religion on the other side of the globe, so long as they're not American lives.

I know I've examined these wars on a macro level, and that if we focus on this skirmish or that commander, or the choices that these soldiers made, we will find ugliness. But ugliness on the individual level is the story of life on this planet. Giving up on noble causes because not each and every participant has noble motives makes no sense to me, just like it makes no sense to lament these lives lost in the pursuit of LIBERTY, but not care a fig about lives lost for no great purpose on an American highway.

Again, I hate war. But I also hate bullies. And everything I've read and researched suggests that America's involvement in military action has been overwhelmingly about protecting people from bullies. Every life lost -- the 2,300 soldiers who died in Afghanistan and the 4,500 who died in Iraq, is a life I wish to have back for the families who loved them. But they make me so proud to be an American, so thankful men and women like them are willing to be heroes to people who are guilty of nothing but being born where evil men have decided to wreak havoc. And I won't dishonor their sacrifice, sitting in my home where no masked men holding guns and waving black flags roam the streets.

Whether you agree with the politics that lead to these wars or not, the LIVES of the men and women who fought them matter, along with the lives of the people they are fighting to protect back here at home. They matter if they were saved and they matter if they were sacrificed. They matter whether you and I appreciate what they did or not, because sacrifice like that is not defined by my political attitude or yours, but by God himself, whose holy apostle wrote, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)

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