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The Grief Show

Last week, it was reported that five Australians were killed in Afghanistan. What began after that, was the sickening grief show that nationalism inspires.

It wasn't new, really. The Prime Minister got up and said, "Australians will be shocked by these deaths." Other politicians said we should leave the war. Media commentators repeated that five had died, that the number of deaths for Australians was too much (it is 38, apparently). Military commanders got up and said that the soldiers were upset. The last one was the only honest reaction out of it all, but it was short lived. Images of coffins draped in flags were shown later. The Grief Show continued to make sure we understood the terrible tragedy that was unfolding. Five Australians were dead. The cost was huge. How could our nation continue to take part in this war?

In 2011, 967 Afghan civilians were killed.

1,586 were injured.

These are numbers are from the United Nations, but the link will go to a BBC site with a rundown and link to a report. According to another site, the number of Afghan civilians killed by August 2010, was 8,813, while 15,863 people were seriously injured. By all accounts, the violence has risen in the last year, so that number is likely to have gone up as well.

Please note, the number of Afghan men and women and children killed are not listed under soldiers, or combatants. They were just people living, or trying to live, in a situation that can be best explained as difficult.

Not that we talk about that, no.

What we talk about, instead, are the five Australians who died. Five. It's sad, yes, but it is no less sad than the hundreds of men and women and children who have died around them--and the colour of their skin or their religion or their nationality does not change that. Dead is dead. But when we stand up and beat our chests and lament five Australians, what we are doing is saying that these five were, somehow, worth more than the hundreds and thousands who have died during this conflict that are not Australian. It's a childish, immature, and wholly abhorrent stance to take on the situation, and one that we should be ashamed for taking.

I am, frankly, offended each time that the media and politicians begin their show, the way that they somehow manage to put a weight on nationality, as if your birth place makes you more valuable than another human's.


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Sep. 4th, 2012 12:54 am (UTC)
Thanks. This is exactly why I avoid the news whenever any Australian dies overseas. It's not a national tragedy, it's what happens when you participate in war
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