American Hypocrisy and the Problem of Not Caring


Aaron Gray, Staff Writer

On Dec 14, 2012, a young man by the name of Adam Lanza took firearms from his household, and, after executing his mother as she slept, continued to a local elementary school and proceeded to open fire on its occupants. After many had been killed and others fatally wounded, he finally shot himself, effectively ending the killing spree. The final death toll that day was 27, 20 of which were children.

This story  instantaneously made news on a global scale, and has been called one of the, if not the, worst school shootings in American history. A nation mourned this event, and millions stood in silence at the thought of such an act of depravity by a fellow human being.

While such events as these are an obvious tragedy, Americans tend to ignore situations other places in the world where hundreds of children have been slaughtered and brutalized. For some of these events, our own military is the culprit.
In mid-March through early May of 2003, under a storm of controversy, the American military invaded Iraq under the questionable (and, some argue, unfounded) accusations that nuclear weapons of mass destruction were being constructed for possible use by terrorists.
After eight years of brutal fighting and the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians, the United State’s last convoy crossed the border to Kuwait on Dec. 18, 2011, the last segment of our military’s withdrawal from Iraq…but they unfortunately left quite a legacy behind. 
Multiple sources reported about an incident revealed by Wikileaks, including the New York Times, Huffington Post and The Sydney Morning Herald. In 2006 an incident occurred where, according to Wikileaks, “US troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a five-month-old infant [along with five children], then called in an air strike to destroy the evidence.” The five children that were killed were under the age of five. Pentagon and military officials refused to comment, also according to the aforementioned articles. 
According to the website,, which regularly updates itself with a number of deaths based on official reports, it all leads up to a total of 111,151 – 121,464 total civilian casualties as of press time. Note, however, that these are only the officially reported deaths. The Iraqi Health Ministry estimates that up to 20% of deaths went undocumented, and many estimates on the actual total amount of deaths range up to the lower millions. There is no telling what percentage of that number would be children, but in an interview in 1996, US Ambassador Madeleine Albright, when questioned about the estimated 500,000 children that have died in Iraq and whether it was worth it, said “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.” 500,000 child deaths. That is more than how many died in the Hiroshima bombing, and that was in 1996.
I’m not saying there’s a conspiracy. There’s plenty of that clouding the web without me joining in. I’m not saying our military is made up of depraved killers. We all, as Americans, owe an enormous debt to all of our soldiers, who risk their lives every day to protect us and our lives. The point I’m trying to get across is that there is an unsettling disconnect between the general public’s attention of the death of 20 kids in America versus the thousands of avoidable, if not intentional, child fatalities throughout our occupation of Iraq.
There is, of course, the gap between the “hitting home” point of something such as this happening so close to us personally, but the average American would most likely not even know about the dead children in the Middle East by American hands. All it takes is that one man to pick up a gun and pull a trigger. These kids were just as young, just as loved by their parents, and just as innocent.
That we largely don’t seem to care about this is absolutely inexcusable. While we gape at the latest (and undoubtedly not the last) shooting on American soil, thousands of kids lay unknown and unburied in the sands of Iraq.
Many would argue that, while this is a terrible set of statistics, there is nothing that the average American could do to end this. This is largely incorrect.
On March 7, 2012, the nonprofit organization Invisible Children released a 30-minute documentary by the name of “Kony 2012,” the subject being that of Kony and his “Lord’s Resistance Army” which largely consisted of child soldiers. According to Time magazine, this would quickly become the most viral video in history, surpassing the 100 million views mark in less than a week (other popular videos like “Friday” took over 45 days to reach this mark). From here, the video quickly spread to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, gaining uncountable views. Invisible Children also sold “Kony Bracelets” and other such items, eventually gaining over $10 million.
Though there are many questions that have been raised about where the money actually went and the authenticity of the original video itself, this situation illustrates the fact that Americans have the capacity to make a change in modern society. Though the campaign quickly fizzled out after it reached the height of its popularity, it still shows how people can instigate change if they really put their minds to it. When we do, however, it always seems to be for the wrong things and reasons–many believe that Kony 2012 only reached such a fever pitch through a combination of celebrity endorsement and popular opinion.
Children are dying all around the world in triple digits, but we seem only to care about that which happens within our borders. Why? Are our kids worth more? Or do we just not care?
America has seen a tragedy with the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. But our children are no more important than those that are being killed in other countries. People must wake up and make an effort to inform themselves on what is actually happening around the world. It is time to use our status as a world power for good and stop the avoidable murder of civilians throughout the rest of the world…especially those that have been inflicted by our hand.