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Assad and Wal-Mart: Mass Murderers

Over 1,000 innocent Syrians were killed by poison gas. (bottom photo).  Over 1,000 innocent Bangladesh garment workers were killed when a huge factory building collapsed in April (top photo of mass grave).

The Syrian government is responsible for the first mass killing. Wal-Mart, which (according to the New York Times) knew about the dangerous conditions in the Bangladesh factories that make its clothes, and did nothing, is responsible for the second mass killing. Wal-Mart actually blocked efforts to upgrade factory conditions in Bangladesh.

Why all the outrage about the first murders but not the second?

Why is the U.S. government ready to go to war against Syria but not even punish or pressure Wal-Mart?

Are some innocent victims' lives worth more than others?

Why is Assad more of a criminal than Mike Duke, Wal-Mart CEO?

Is it worse when a government kills its own people than when a global corporation looks the other way when workers toil in deadly dangerous conditions?

The Bangladesh workers complained about the building's dangers and were told that if they didn't come to work, they'd lose their jobs. Instead they lost their lives. And Wal-Mart still won't sign an agreement with other big retailers to improve factory conditions!

The deaths of the Bangladesh workers were not the result of an act of God or nature. They were not the result of Wal-Mart's reluctant compliance with Bangladesh's weak workplace safety laws. They were the result of Wal-Mart's willful indifference to basic, decent standards of workplace safety. Just like Assad, Wal-Mart -- that is, the company's CEO and top executives, who put profits over human life -- has blood on its hands.

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Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier is E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, and chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department, at Occidental College. His most recent book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (Nation Books, 2012). His other books include: Place Matters: Metropolitics for the 21st Century (University Press of Kansas, 3rd edition, 2014), and The Next Los Angeles: The Struggle for a Livable City (University of California Press, revised 2006). He writes regularly for the Los Angeles Times, Common Dreams, The Nation, and Huffington Post.

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