Bombs Without Borders
Thank you, Bob Dreyfuss, Nick Turse, and all of the journalists who are helping to inform us about the recent war crime in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The online title of Dreyfuss’s article, “The US Massacre in Kunduz Exposes the Bankruptcy of Obama’s National-Security Policy” [“The Lessons of Kunduz” in the Nov. 2 issue], immediately caught my attention. By the time I’d finished the second paragraph, I had the very strong feeling that here was a reporter who is writing the truth, rather than repeating the rationalizations of the irresponsible architects of our Middle East policies.
Thanks also to Dreyfuss and Turse for researching and reporting on civilian deaths in “America’s Afghan Victims” [Oct. 7, 2013]. All too often, our government and corporate media conspire to ignore, silence, or minimize the victims of our wars. I believe Americans need to be made aware of the results of our actions—maybe then they’ll demand responsibility and accountability from our leaders.
Hugh R. Hays
Bob Dreyfuss’s repeated use of the word “massacre” to describe the bombing of the Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz is irresponsible rhetoric. A massacre is an intentional, targeted mass murder. Dreyfuss doesn’t even try to prove that’s what the bombing was; he just trots out the word for shock value. Fatal incompetence on top of misguided policy it certainly was, and that’s the only case Dreyfuss actually makes. That in itself could possibly be called a war crime by some stretch. But there’s no evidence anywhere that US military forces, let alone President Obama, consciously intended to kill MSF staff and their patients.
With regard to Seth Freed Wessler’s article “Black Deaths Matter” [Nov. 2]: On the one hand, there is the argument that the unmarked grave has always been with us and may mean even less in the future because of the greater population’s inability—or unwillingness—to pay for traditional burial services. But that’s immaterial here. This is a great piece, and it demonstrates just how undervalued not only African-American lives but all marginalized groups are in the magic marketplace of the United States.
In the early 1990s I was working at NASA in Huntsville, Alabama, and went to a Veterans Day ceremony held at a cemetery in the beautiful old part of Huntsville, a relatively liberal town thanks to the large number of out-of-state engineers working for NASA. Most of the cemetery was all dolled up, but I asked a black TV cameraman filming the ceremony about the corner of the cemetery that was unkempt, with stones fallen over. He replied matter-of-factly that those were the graves of the black soldiers. Enough said.
Some police seem to forget that they are civilian officers serving a civilian population of fellow citizens [“Reasoning Away Murder,” Nov. 2]. They are not an occupying army. If fact, even American soldiers in war zones operate under rules of engagement that do not authorize them to kill civilians out of fear that those civilians might be dangerous. It would seem time to reconsider how police officers are trained and directed to respond to ambiguous but potentially dangerous situations. While no one wants officers to be killed or injured in the line of duty, they are hired specifically to protect civilian populations, not to inflict harm upon the innocent, no matter how much fear officers may experience during their encounters.
A Real Bad Apple
Eric Alterman is right to insist that Apple’s corporate misdeeds are more worthy of our scrutiny than Steve Jobs’s character flaws [“Rotten at the Core,” Nov. 2]. What amazes me is the way companies like Apple so effectively seduce even educated liberals to buy their products, despite the environmental and human-rights abuses that go into making them.
The “mad men” of advertising effectively manufacture appealing brand images that cast ruthless, corrupt companies like Apple and Volkswagen as cuddly countercultural icons. And after all these years of being duped, we still fall for it (iPhone 6s, anyone?). Is it naïveté or willful blindness?
Yes, it seems likely that Apple is every bit as mendacious and unscrupulous as other multinational corporations. What irks me most, however, is the near-deification of Steve Jobs, who has more than once been portrayed by the media as a Zen master and a Buddhist—which could not possibly be further from the truth.
Jobs was, after all, a man who reportedly idolized Ayn Rand and her I-Me-Mine philosophy, and who publicly bragged about how clever he had been in devising ways to avoid paying his fair share of both corporate and personal income taxes.
No legitimate Zen master would approve of the late Applehead’s actions, or his utterly self-serving philosophical stance, or his lack of patriotism. Furthermore, the deplorable treatment of workers slaving to make Apple products in China represents the very antithesis of compassionate Buddhist belief.
Et Tu, MSNBC?
Those of us who live in rural areas (read: web access is not a given, data caps are low, overage charges are high) have relied on MSNBC for news from a leftist/progressive viewpoint [“I Want My Progressive TV!,” Oct. 26]. The only reason I’ve been willing to pay for TV service is to have MSNBC. If the network continues to cut back on content relevant to my political interests, dumping the dish will be an easy decision.
I started having doubts when MSNBC began extolling the virtues of the Koch brothers on Morning Joe. MSNBC seems to be wimping out on the big issues that face our nation: climate change, income inequality, the over-incarceration of nonviolent young drug offenders, the privatization of our penal system. Where is the fire?
Eric Alterman’s column “St. Paul Returns” [Nov. 16] incorrectly identified the Brookings Institution’s Thomas Mann as Theodore Mann. We regret the error.