Monday, December 10, 2012

"Nits make Lice"

During the horrible (American) Indian wars in the 1860’s one of the famous (or, more properly, infamous) Indian fighters was one Colonel John M. Chivington, who believed it was his duty to kill Indians:
“When it was pointed out to him that attacking Black Kettle’s peaceful camp would be ‘murder in every sense of the word,’ Chivington became angry and replied, ‘Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians. I have come to kill Indians and believe it is right and honorable to use any means under God’s heaven to kill Indians.’”
The “any means” included all Indians, old people, women, children, and even infants as well as warriors, and it also meant, literally, any means:
“The people tried to run and hide but the soldiers murdered indiscriminately, men, women, children, even infants. They pulled little children and women out from their hiding places in the rocks and killed them all. Eyewitness accounts indicated that all the bodies were scalped but beyond that they were also mutilated. Men, women, and children’s genitals were cut out and displayed in various manners. Some soldiers stretched the women’s genitals over their saddle horns, others wore them on their hats or carried them around on sticks. Fingers were cut off and infants were abandoned to die. All of this was apparently done with the full knowledge of Chivington who had declared previously in a speech in which he advocated killing and scalping all Indians, including infants, as ‘Nits make lice!’”
This was not unusual during the heyday of colonialism. Here is a similar example from Australia:
 “It was commonplace that when a settler was killed posses would be formed and every Aborigine they came across was slaughtered, men, women, and children, no exceptions. “Suppose you don’t kill the pickaninnis, in time they become warriors and kill you. If you kill the women, no more piccaninnis are born.” (a native policeman, 1857).
Having no first -hand experience in combat I do not know what atrocities are committed these days other than the few that occasionally get reported. I suspect it is true that things may not be not quite as terrible as they once were. I doubt that modern soldiers actually kill infants by bashing them against rocks, bayoneting them and such, and perhaps never murder infants at all (except as collateral damage). However, it seems the Israelis seem never to have been shy about killing Palestinian children, sometimes even at play (there have been many reports of this), and if you know the Israelis would like nothing better than to be rid of the Palestinians (which they have made quite clear) I believe there may well be a parallel here.
More to the point here is that according to the Military Times, the U.S. army now has a policy of killing Afghan children if they are suspected of having “potential hostile intent.” I think this statement came about as the result of a recent admission that three young boys had been killed by our military. As the boys, 8, 10, and 12, were digging in the ground we are being led to believe this represents hostile intent. Young boys digging in the ground, how unusual! I don’t know the real particulars of this but I do know that killing children because they might have potential hostile intent is insanely immoral. Things change but stay the same, it’s just as disgusting now as it ever was.

No comments: