so I just went to bed. the cats joined me and we were asleep before any of us could even think about whether we would actually fall asleep. (no I don't really know when the cats fell asleep but the two times I woke up during the night they were both in the same spot under my arm. my arm gets a little sore from being stretched out where two cats can share it all night.)
I keep forgetting it is memorial day weekend which is something that miss morissette could have said was ironic but did not, instead mistaking rain on a wedding day for irony, which it is not, as we all know by now. this is an old conversation.
as I said in a comment to someone else's post about memorial day, I think that this memorial day we americans should pause, and I mean really pause, and think about all the lives that have been lost in Iraq. using Wikipedia and checking its sources, it seems that the minimum number of total lives lost, both American and Iraqi military and civilian, is around 77,500.
that's the minimum.
some agencies are reporting as many as 655,000 Iraqi civilians dead due to war and conditions of war, such as lack of medical care and equipment, contaminated water and food supplies, etc.
at a conference at Berkeley a couple of years ago, on mourning and violence, Judith asked the question of what constitutes a memorable life. naturally in the US the most memorable lives have been designated as those US soldiers killed, a count that stands at 3444 now according to a couple of sites. googling "casualties iraq" reveals a number of sources with varying agendas and so grains of salt of various sizes might be recommended, but I think that it is clear that the american death count pales in comparison to the possible hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths that would not have occured had the war not been undertaken.
the very idea that modern warfare can be "surgical" and "clean" is the mythology by which many were led to believe that we would be "liberating" the Iraqis instead of killing them, but many of us knew then that surgical war is impossible. I don't know if it will ever be possible, but as an ideal it leads war hawks on to ever rising attitudes of righteousness and innocence as they imagine a future war in which only "the bad guys" would die. unfortunately the history of war does nothing to lead to a conclusion that such a war could be possible, and, even if possible, actually undertaken. war is always, always a platform for atrocities that exceed stated military goals, and why any american ever believes that those who particiate in "this war" will somehow not fall into that abyss only reveals the miserable state of historical education in the US.
of course who the bad guys are is always debateable, which is why I think that on memorial day we should think of all the Iraqi dead, not just the civilians. we don't know the rationales of most who join the insurgency, although we cast them all as terrorists deserving the death penalty, and thus we do not count them among the dead that can be mourned. their families think differently, no doubt, and in any case had we not started the war there would be no insurgency to join and to die for. it is to be expected that if you occupy a country against its national will that a resistance force will arise, and the reasons for joining it will vary according to individual. but no one wants to talk about that--they simply "hate our freedom." considering what "freedom" has brought to their country, who could blame them if that were really the case? but in all likelihood, very few hate the US because its citizens are free to express their ideas. no plausible reasoning exists for such a hate. it is simply assigned as such, without being defined or explained.
so this memorial day, I think that the only ethical action we could undertake would be to grieve every death in Iraq--and then move on to grieve other deaths in other places, deaths that result from hatred, prejudice and ignorance. there are more than enough to keep us occupied for a day. we could memorialize those who are killed in the US for being different; we could memorialize those who kill themselves because they perceive themselves as unworthy of life according to some mythological moral code. we could memorialize victims of domestic violence and child abuse, of municipal excesses in the war on (some) drugs, of homelessness and hunger.
really, I can't think of a good reason to have a picnic on memorial day. I think it would be more appropriate to turn the lights out and have a good cry. and then go and feed someone who can't afford groceries. seemingly, the administration is impervious to the will of the people to stop the war in Iraq, but at the very least we could stop, for one day, the workings of the same war machine that carries on here and takes its casualties from within our own borders.