By Damon Krane
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
The Post (Athens, Ohio)
Not to be outdone by Ashley Herzog’s anti-feminist girl power or Chris Yonker’s knee-slapping racism, Thursday columnist Joe Vance has managed to tunnel beneath rock bottom, dragging The Post’s opinion page down to a new subterranean stratum of hateful and utterly bewildering right-wing idiocy.
Vance is not a conservative but a fascist and overt racist who believes the US has the right to subjugate or simply eradicate the world’s “primitive people.” In a stunning example of his moral superiority over such primitives, Vance advocates accomplishing this noble mission through aerial bombardment – his preferred alternative to current US ground invasions and occupations.
The most indiscriminant form of warfare short of biological or nuclear attacks, aerial bombardment claims vastly disproportionate civilian casualties. Way to out-do those terrorists, Joe! The September 11, 2001 attacks killed only some 3,000 civilians. Vance’s call for the US military to “level Baghdad” — a city of seven million men, women and children — would mean the slaughter of exponentially more.
What better way to cap off an unwarranted and illegal war – one in which the US has already put Al Qaeda’s civilian-killing credentials to shame many times over (even more impressively than the US has done in Afghanistan). Better for these “primitive people,” whom Vance authoritatively informs us “have no genuine desire for liberty,” to be sacrificed on the altar of the columnist’s self-aggrandizing delusions than for any more of our valiant Christian soldiers to be “martyred” carrying out their “attempt to civilize [Iraqis]” on the ground.
“Whatever [Iraqi] government arises thereafter,” writes Vance, “will be too demoralized to threaten America again.”
Yes, “again.” You do remember all those weapons of mass destruction Iraq threatened us with last time, right? And let’s not forget 9/11.
Has no one at The Post ever heard of fact-checking?
No? Well, how about a thesaurus? Because the “opinion” in opinion column, it’s actually not a synonym for “blatant lie.”
Of course Vance’s grand vision doesn’t end with Iraq. Afghanistan, Syria and Saudi Arabia are also targets of his Final Solution — er, I mean “endgame.” So too are the stateless Palestinians living under a half century of US-backed Israeli military occupation, colonization, expropriation, displacement and apartheid. Pakistan as well, should its friendly “secular dictatorship” fall.
For Vance, all these nations of “primitive,” brown and olive-skinned people represent “a bloodlusting barbarism determined to extend its shadow across the globe.” Thus the US must kill, terrorize, torture and subjugate to protect our most enlightened and libertarian values of freedom and equality — for us and no one else, of course.
Is it possible for a human being to be so oblivious to irony? Or is the real irony here that someone as obscenely self-centered as Vance has not spent enough time admiring his own reflection to notice the bloodlusting barbarism staring back from the mirror?
Americans may like to imagine their country heroically defending Western civilization against “a bloodlusting barbarism determined to extend its shadow across the globe.” But the fact is the US military has killed more civilians in the past decade than any other state force or group of paramilitary terrorists in the world. And the list of America’s unjustifiable murders not only includes noncombatants but all those killed after taking up arms to defend their countries against foreign aggression – namely, ours. So whose “bloodlusting barbarism” are we talking about now?
And what about global shadows? Our rather extensive “shadow” includes not just the two countries currently subject to direct US military occupation and the US-sponsored Israeli occupation of Palestine, but also approximately 1,000 permanent US military bases in 38 separate countries outside of our own borders.
Indeed, even our notion of “September 11th” is a sad piece of irony, since the first cataclysmic September 11th occurred in 1973, when the US backed the overthrow of Chile’s democratically elected government and the assassination of the country’s president in order to usher in the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. During his 17-year reign, the stalwart US ally Pinochet is estimated to have murdered 3,000 political opponents, tortured 40,000 and forced still more into exile while simultaneously plunging Chile’s economy into depression upon the advice of celebrated US economists.
Some three decades have passed since American predations in Southeast Asia and Latin America estimated to have cost the lives of well over one million people led Martin Luther King Jr. to deem the US “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” Unfortunately, King’s judgment still rings true.
It is a uniquely American ignorance of facts like these –- an ignorance the rest of the world doesn’t have the privilege to share – that enables someone like Vance to advocate the genocide of people so obviously primitive and depraved that they would resist our benevolent, civilizing missions. Real journalists might be concerned with combatting ignorance and shedding light on the truth -– if not of the past century, at least of the past six years. Yet it seems current students of the prestigious E.W. Scripps School of Journalism would rather spotlight the ravings of a genocidal maniac who bases his murderous proposals on a falsified version of recent history.
Vance is as entitled to freedom of speech as any neo-Nazi or Klansman handing out photocopied pamphlets on a street corner. Ohio University’s student newspaper, on the other hand, would do well to start excercising better editorial judgement.
[Editor’s notes, 1/7/2013 – The above edition of The Post carried a version of this column under the title “Free speech a right, good taste being trampled” — an unfortunate application of the paper’s penchant for ridiculously awkward headlines only tangentially related to the text that follows them. Meanwhile, the first of my cartoons above appeared in the October 2007 edition of The InterActivist; the second was the design for my sign at a September 26, 2007 rally protesting racism at The Post. Finally, the piece by Post columnist Joe Vance to which I am responding is no longer available on The Post’s website, but it was posted here to the forum Skyscraper City, where it remains.]