Monday, April 23, 2007

Virginia Tech and Baghdad


The irony struck me when close on the heels of the tragedy at Virginia Tech (i.e. the next day) there was a huge series of bombings in Baghdad in which over 170 people died immediately. And this was one day. Earlier in January, 70 students and staff were killed in a bombing at a Baghdad university.

Don't misunderstand me - the presence of violence and tragedy in other parts of the world doesn't make an event NOT a tragedy in this part of the world. The VA Tech shooting, where I have friends and acquaintances who are faculty in the English department, was definitively a tragedy in many different ways. There is no mitigating that fact, nor would it be my intention to do so.

But I couldn't help wondering - must not just about every Iraqi who sees coverage of this event on CNN be wondering if any of the students on VA Tech's campus will connect their experience of violence & its psychological aftermath with the experience of violence that has become a daily presence for people living in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq? I am not of course saying that VA Tech was caused by Iraq. That would be a simplistic misreading of my point. I am wondering merely whether the moment of violence at VA Tech might give the people who experienced it directly & those of us who followed it on television, pause to consider what living in Iraq might truthfully mean to the people we insist we are helping. Can anyone of us imagine what it must be like to live in a country where VA Tech happens every day, if not VA Tech x3 or 4 or 5? Even in this dismal moment of meaningless violence, how many of us are considering how insanely lucky we are that we live in this country?

And given the resultant understanding that might come from careful consideration, what are we going to do now?

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