Why do we use words like “mass killing” to describe the horror of San Bernadino and Orlando but never use this language to describe 207 Pakistani children killed in drone strikes since 2004?
According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the total number of civilians killed in Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan exceeds 1,200. The number of injured civilians in these countries exceeds 4,000. Why do we call the slaughter of innocent civilians in American led wars “operations” but call acts of individual rampage in an Orlando nightclub a mass killing?
As far as I can tell, the only difference between one attack and the other is the size of the guns used and the color of the flag sewn on the uniform of the person who squeezed the trigger. In both cases, the lives of the individual victims matter very little. All that seems to matter is their symbolic worth as representations of concepts such as impurity, evil, communism, capitalism, terrorism, imperialism, heathenism and barbarism.
Although I am already anticipating the backlash which I will face for speaking my unfiltered truth, I really do not care if people find what I have to say offensive. I find terrorism offensive. I find hatred of homosexuals and people of different sexual orientations to be offensive. I find disgracing the Prophet’s compassion to be offensive. I find Just War Theory to be offensive. I find violence against children to be offensive. I find assault rifles and drones to be offensive.
What else can I say? Killing innocent children with hellfire missiles in Pakistan is no less a sin than the hate crime Omar Mateen committed in Orlando. Either we stop justifying all warfare or we accept the consequences of war completely.
George Payne is a free lance writer and founder of Gandhi Earth Keepers International.