NEW YORK--American lives are worth a lot. So when Americans get killed, it's a big story.
The lives of foreigners, on the other hand, are pretty much worthless. Even when they die because Americans killed them, news accounts marking their deaths are short and sweet. Congressional investigations? No way.
The massacre of 13 soldiers at an Army post in Texas recently places this dichotomy in sharp relief.
The FBI is already helping Army investigators. Sen. Joe Lieberman has announced that his Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will launch a full investigation into "every angle" of the shooting, including the motives of the suspect and whether government eavesdroppers could have prevented it by notifying Army officials of his contacts with a radical Muslim cleric. Over in the House, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, a Texas Democrat, has summoned national intelligence director Dennis Blair to answer questions about Fort Hood before the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
But wait--there's more. "Other committees may also launch investigations into how the Army missed warning signs about the accused," reports The Politico.
Maj. Nidal Hasan, an army psychiatrist, ministered to victims of post-traumatic stress disorder who told him terrible stories about combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. Ordered to deploy to the war zone, he asked not to go--and was refused.
Is it reasonable to ask a religious Muslim to deploy to Afghanistan or Iraq, wars where he would be asked to kill his coreligionists?
The shock, grief and soul-searching are all reasonable reactions to a brutal and tragic event. But it's not hard to imagine how it looks to the outside world. While the media and public obsess over the deaths of 13 fellow Americans, they ignore the deaths of hundreds of thousands of foreigners.
The American military has killed roughly 2 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. Those attacks were illegal--no declaration of war, no United Nations mandate--and are largely recognized as such by the American public. Many victims were killed with chemical and radioactive weapons, some while under torture. In other words, these are crimes.
So where are the Congressional investigations? Don't we want to find out what happened, how it happened, and make sure it never happens again? Apparently not.
President Barack Obama has chosen to "move forward" instead. No one--not George W. Bush, nor his advisers, nor the military officers who carried out his illegal orders--is being held accountable.
There are no angry editorials. The illegal wars are being ramped up. The crimes--including the torture--continue. But it's OK--as long as it doesn't happen here.
The punk band T.S.O.L. wrote the soundtrack to this attitude a quarter-century ago: "We live in the American zone / Free of fear in our American home / Swimming pool and digital phone."
Still wondering why they hate us?: Ted Rall is the author of : The Year of Loving Dangerously: and : To Afghanistan and Back: .