Children Become Collateral Damage
Christina-Taylor Green was nine years old. She was born on September 11, 2001. She died on January 8, 2011 in Tucson, along with a federal judge and four others in a shooting targeting her Congresswoman. Green had recently been elected to student council. She was going to meet Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who remains hospitalized, a bullet having passed through her brain. Christina was the only girl on her Little League team. Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church, fresh from picketing Elizabeth Edwards' funeral, plans to picket hers.
Brisenia Flores was nine years old. She died on May 30, 2009 in Arivaca, Arizona, when Minutemen (and women) charged into her home and shot her and her father. She was a conscientious student, popular with her classmates, who spend extra time at the community center making beaded earrings for her mother for Mother's Day. The Minutemen American Defense group whose members killed her calls itself a "civilian defense corps" and polices the U.S. border for undocumented immigrants.
Ali Kinani was nine years old. He died on September 16, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq, the youngest victim in a Blackwater shootout that killed at least seventeen. Ali's parents supported the U.S. invasion and deposition of Saddam Hussein, and when passing through checkpoints he liked to stick his head out the window and tell the police, "I'm in the Special Forces." He still slept on his father's arm every night. Criminal charges were dismissed against the Blackwater guards, and they settled one civil case.
What all of these children have in common is that they were killed by American guns, with American bullets and American shooters. Their motives might have been different, and it is likely that none of the shooters meant to kill a nine-year-old child, but when firing into a crowd or a dark home becomes acceptable, when anger is stoked and fear and hate nightly news, there's something deeply wrong. Demonizing immigrants and Muslims, gays and lesbians, even one's political opponents, has deadly consequences. Nine-year-old children are the collateral damage of our political culture at large.
© 2011 The Nation