National Sanctity Of Life Day
President Bush has declared January 20 National Sanctity of Human Life Day.
I should be forgiven for greeting the news with cynicism, but at least they included the word "national" in the title.
The list of examples demonstrating how life is regarded by Americans with considerably less than sanctity outside their national borders is painfully long. There is eloquent testimony in the flesh of tens of thousands of innocent peasants ripped by metal shards of American landmines and cluster bombs in a dozen far-off lands.
There is America's wanton disregard of Israel's brutal rule over the Palestinians; its years of wanton disregard of South Africa's brutal apartheid government; and its years of wanton disregard of official murder and torture in Chile, in Iran, and in a dozen other lands with governments bestowed by America's hysterical, witch-hunting interventions.
But even that word "national" must be qualified. Within the sacred precincts of the temple to freedom and human rights itself, there seems to be some elasticity in the definition of sanctity of life. I'm sure the fetuses no one wants -- including the anti-abortion fanatics whose motto might well be, "We jus' helps 'em get born, what happens after is private 'n' personal!" -- are covered by the joyous national celebration. I think likely, too, sperm hurt by condoms and stem cells are included, but just what else is being celebrated remains mysterious.
The governor of Illinois seemed to understand the meaning of the words "sanctity of life" when he commuted the sentences of more than a hundred and fifty people agonizingly awaiting execution. His decision came after overwhelming evidence that the death penalty was administered with about the predictability of a flip of a coin.
The President never suffered qualms like that during his term as governor of Texas. The Texas lethal-injection assembly line rattled right along with the highest recorded productivity in the nation, and Mr. Bush was so sure justice was being served that he was moved on more than one occasion to joke about those waiting to die.
I wonder how America's love affair with guns fits in with the sanctity of life? There's supposed to be about two hundred million of them, many of them handguns whose only purpose is killing people. Obtaining a handgun in many parts of America is far easier than getting a pair of eyeglasses.
There's the little matter of the murder rate in America, the highest in the advanced world, and then there's the infant mortality rate, also the highest in the advanced world. If there is some way of interpreting the documented brutality of American police forces as life embracing, it escapes me.
Now we learn from a UPI story that, for the first time in its murderous history, Israel's intelligence agency Mossad has been granted permission by an American government to use the land of the free as one of its human hunting grounds. Potential victims must qualify for that elusive category, "terrorists." As determined by whom? I guess it's petty of me to ask such a question when Americans are busy celebrating the sanctity of life.
Just a few days ago, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Russian officials announcing a new approach to the Chechens described as "the Israeli way," meaning they intend to start cold-bloodedly assassinating Chechens who are deemed terrorists. No objections were heard from the sanctity-of-life President.
Bush's CIA recently blew up a car filled with people in Yemen after its arbitrary determination they were terrorists. It's wonderful the way these humanistic values are spreading around the planet. As I've remarked before, that word "terrorist" is taking on exactly the meaning of Stalin's "wreckers," a word he uttered each time he wanted to signal comrades that it was time to round up a new batch of victims. Only now the vicious game is going global.
I wonder if Israel's new hunting privileges in America might be extended to other groups? Perhaps licenses could be sold for hefty fees or auctioned to the highest bidders. Americans could watch Russians and Chechens, Spaniards and Basques, Irish and English, Mexicans and aboriginal people, Pakistanis and Indians, Turks and Kurds, various Afghan tribes, or Muslim and non-Muslim Nigerians all hunting each other down in their streets. Now there's an idea for celebrating the second anniversary of National Sanctity of Life Day.
Americans should be proud of the inspiring example they set for the world. Happy National Sanctity of Human Life Day, America!
(You can read the UPI report here: www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20030115-035849-6156r)
John Chuckman lives in Canada and is former chief economist for a large Canadian oil company. He is a columnist for Yellow Times.org, where this article first appeared.