“Why is the World Silent?” – Chaim Kaplan
Humanity has endured self inflicted savagery for all history. The modern civilisations have apparently transcended above the primal savagery of ancient barbarity, yet despite technology allowing us to peer in with a voyeurs fascination or to witnesses with disgust, the world is mostly silent while children are slaughtered. The children of Gaza are dying in large numbers, they are the victims of a state policy so bent on vengeance that the wider world is absent in any true condemnation or action. A child in the West Bank may as well be a Biafran baby or a Yemeni girl or a boy from Laos or perhaps any child stuffed into the ovens of Bergen- Belsen or Auschwitz.
The world is divided fundamentally into two camps, those who see individuals and the collectivists. Many claim to understand that the planet is made up of millions of human individuals, until nationalism or a tribal bias emerges. The past decades culture war has been one of stereotype and slur, a tug and pull of identity politics and reactionary populism that has led to alliances that otherwise are unhealthy on a fundamental level. Divisions based on stereotypes or specific politicking. It all became very simplistic and petty at times but divisive, individuals lost to identity politics. Though thankfully it was a war mostly waged online, on screens and in the mostly already alien government-corporate world. As a reaction for some reason ‘conservatives’ were embraced, claimed to be champions of reason and liberty, essentially they were not-woke.
The attitudes and simplifications of hatred and division of such a ‘war’ were not new, humanities true legacy. To burn a child beneath an atomic blast, to blow their limbs to pieces with land mines, to starve, drown or suffocate them, is now a civilised wisdom so long as government does it. It is the accepted conduct of great and pariah nations alike. It’s the terrorists vulgarity and a professional militaries sophisticated exceptionalism. Things happen in war, right? Despite centuries of learning and improvements in the science of killing, the children are still targeted or suffer regardless of such advanced weapon systems.
We are told that the enemy, which ever one it happens to be, uses children as shields or hides behind them and yet time and time again we have seen the children suffer regardless whether this is true or not. In the case of Gaza, a small city filled with mostly children, it would be hard for them not to be near any ‘terrorist’. That is assuming the IDF were trying to be precise in their attacks on the city. Is a government building a legitimate target? And if so, does that mean should one attack it and kill children, then it is those who used the government building rather than the killers who is at fault? Is that not the rationale of terrorists?
To blow up school busses full of children with complicated weapons as the Saudi military did in Yemen or to starve a nation, knowing that the children are the first to die as was the case from World War One up to the war on Iraq, is the conduct of government. Despite the vile cruelty, things happen in war, so the mantra goes. To be savage, brutal, to have no or little mercy is somehow an allowable necessity so long as victory is attained. The balance between good and evil dangles according to kill counts, who was the most brutal. Or who is whose ally. Regardless children are murdered.
For a time many in the liberty and anti-war movement claimed that conservatives were natural allies, good on certain issues. The American dominated partisanship pushed this line during the apparent culture war and the Covid times. Liberal interventionists a very real threat, but conservative regimes wage war too. Conservatives censor and lock down as well, despite rhetoric. It is still the government, And so we saw the blood lust and theological disorder to wage a crusade against Palestinian children return after the October terror attacks in Israel. Suddenly the energies of the Bush Neo-Cons revived among particular pundits and supposed “friends” of individual liberty. The need to support an ally, to kill and hate was ever apparent. Or, the need to down play the death of the innocent, to ignore dead children.
On the flip side those with certain beliefs instantly conflated Jews with the Israeli government, much the same way that ISIS or Al Qaeda or even Hamas had become attached to all of Islam. The collectivist instinct to remove individuals from their responsibility and identity is always near the surface so long as the excitement of war scratches it free. To punish any demographic based on the actions of individuals is immoral. Akin to punishing American, Australian or Iraqi civilians because of the actions of the government that imposes itself upon them. Yet, this is the way of government and collectivist ideologies.
In the book, “Through Our Eyes”, Itzhak Tatelbaum compiles the words of the young who witnessed and experienced The Holocaust. From the early days through to the deportation, enslavement and exterminations or experimentation and eventually freedom for the few who survived. The words are universally human, individual children forced to suffer beneath the vileness of government. Victims of legal murder and torture, professionals and conscripts alike participants in the wholesale brutality of children. No paedophile ring has come close to destroying the lives of so many children as most governments in the time of war and yet, for some reason government is loved regardless of the many victims. Those directly and indirectly involved in such an exploitation ring would be understood to be vile, yet when it comes to the professional child killers they are often thanked for their service and those who participated in such an entity rewarded and adored. The victims, their little bodies buried beneath dirt, so that many may enjoy pensions and benefits.
“Never shall I forget the faces of the children whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.” – Elie, a little girl condemned to die.
For those on the outside, looking at the cement dust covered babies, blood and tears caking the powder over their broken faces, the inhumanity is in the distance that separates. Those who look at the child and claim, “they bought it upon themselves,” or who may sigh, “oh dear,” and still there are more who will refuse to look, to ignore, to pretend that it does not matter. None of it their business, distant cries for help, too far to care. The children dying now, have much in common with those who have died in the past the world over, victims of rage and policy that matters more than young lives. Even when experts and policy makers admit that they made mistakes, or when the killers weep into suicide and addiction from moral injury, countless little bodies are buried beneath soil soaked in tears, never a shortage of collectivists willing to kill more children.
Perhaps as Tom Waits sings, “Misery is the River of the World”, is true but it need not be. Why must some suffer such misery so that others may profit or satisfy their bias? What does it say about those who enable the governments or terrorists for that matter? Those in distant lands, who eagerly tinker with kill machines for pay so that mass murderers can execute policies of death? Those who cheer without regard for the pain? Those who ejaculate with excitement while they watch the pornography of warfare with a disconnect to the outcomes? For all the centuries of experience and apparent wisdom of institutions and individuals, is the world to forever sail on the blood of the innocent so miserably?
“In the child we can find the natural human characteristics before they are spoiled by the harmful influences of society.” – Aline D Wolf, Peaceful Children, Peaceful World.
Does war and the foreign policy of the violent minded always allow for the calculation to damn children with torment and death? Is this learned in the highest academic institutions or part of the sociopath conditions to succeed in government? To have a toddler in Yemen whimper in tears while his parents entrails stick to him, a Laotian girl with her legs blown free because of a governments bombs dropped decades earlier or a Palestinian baby crushed beneath rubble so that all remains is grey clothing and the dark paste of innocence. Is this the compassionate wisdom of governance? The tolerable nature of rule, the educated hubris of leadership or is it simply the exceptionalism of professional murderers?
Maybe there is no answer, no solution other than to condemn, shame and decry what is being done. The powerful, their eager killers and enablers will always have the ability to destroy, even when they claim to protect. The power of government and ideology is to promise Utopia or a civilisation absent of barbarity, and yet the coercion and collectivism is at its very heart. As an entity, it is brutal violence that also bribes, only compliance and acceptance prevents blood from spilling, except often abroad. The alien, the different, the pariah apparently have no innocent, their children are forfeit, their blood is less than water. Perhaps we should stop embracing the collectivists as friends, those who would condemn a child to be killed with the swipe of their distant hand. What common ground can be reached with those who would kill a child? Those who would support it and those who claim it a necessity? It’s simplistic to call child killers monsters, they are very much human. And a human being it seems is the most frightening monster ever imagined. Despite the murder and mayhem, many seem to love the killers regardless. Then again maybe I am being simplistic and childlike, when killing children for policy is the realm of the sophisticated, educated and righteous. Shame on them all.
“A Little Garden,
fragrant and full of roses.
the path is narrow
and a little boy walks along it.
A little boy, a sweet boy,
like that growing blossom.
When the blossom comes to bloom,
the little boy will be no more.”
Franta Bass, 1930-1944