The Sound of Apathy Over War Resounds
April 14, 2006
I'M STROLLING THE campus of the University of Southern California on a
warm, sun-blasted day, and it's awfully quiet here. Then again, it's
quiet just about everywhere.
The only thing I can figure is that people are numb to the unabashed
lies and distortions out of the nation's capital. We're living in a
time, after all, in which a government report on global warming was
toned down by a White House "science advisor" who then quit to go to
work for Exxon Mobil.
"To be honest," says Daily Trojan staffer Christina Hugh, "I think USC
is very apathetic."
It seems to be contagious, and I don't know what the nation's leaders
have to do to get people worked up. There was a time when the kind of
news we've had recently, combined with the bloodbath in Iraq, would
have sent throngs into the streets.
First we got word last week that Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of
staff leaked information on orders from Cheney and President Bush to
support the administration's call for war in Iraq. Bush, who has been
fanatical about his disdain for leaks and leakers, this week came up
with one of the most creative explanations in political history,
claiming he had declassified the classified information before the
leak. He said it was in the public interest, no less.
Then came another Alice in Wonderland bulletin:
Not only did the administration ignore evidence to the contrary before
the war and insist that Iraq had mobile biological weapons labs, but
now the Washington Post reports that after the war began, Bush's
claims that two such labs had been found came after Pentagon
conclusions to the contrary.
None of this seems to have disturbed napping USC students, and I don't
know if UCLA can be much prouder. I went to the Daily Bruin website,
typed "antiwar" into the search field, and the last substantive
article that popped up was clear back in August. You still have to go
to old reliable UC Santa Cruz if you want campus unrest. Last week,
antiwar protesters there threw a ruckus over military recruiters.
Is any war winnable if military officials are dense enough to try to
recruit at a school where the mascot is the banana slug?
The war is on my mind, in part, because of the horrific details on the
hijacking of Flight 93 at the ongoing trial of an Al Qaeda terrorist.
The trial raises once again the question of why our troops were sent
to risk their lives in Iraq — a move that appears to have set off a
civil war — when none of the terrorists were from there.
The war is on my mind too, because last week an old family friend who
was never the same after returning from Vietnam passed away.
It's on my mind because of reader outrage at the photos of wounded
soldiers that appeared in the L.A. Times recently. If it were up to
me, there'd be more such photos, not just because they are part of the
truth but because they honor the sacrifice.
I have no patience for the hypocrisy of warmongering religious
fanatics and bristle at the narrow-minded bravado that suggested
democracy could be delivered at gunpoint. Included in that group are
the cheerleader pundits and an American press that was at its worst.
Mostly I blame the president and all his men, many of whom dodged the
wars of their time and sent no sons and daughters to this one. And
let's not forget the weak-kneed Democrats who didn't stand up for fear
of being called unpatriotic.
For the mess these people created, and for the absence of a plan on
what to do now, it's quiet out here. Much too quiet.