January 14, 2012

Schizophrenic morality


I was rather confused when I saw the debate unfolding in the media about the video that showed marines urinating on corpses. I wasn't confused or shocked, however, because of the same reasons that apparently made most other people and the general media cry foul. I was shocked because of the blatant and inherent hypocricy in it all. And whether or not the video is true or false, doesn't matter at all in this resepect. For what is most surprising is that people seem to be more morally disgusted because of the urination than the fact that the corpses are there in the first place. To say it bluntly then: pissing on a dead body seems more immoral than killing a person. As such I wondered: how can respect for a corpse be more important than respect for a person?

Truly, what kind of schizophrenic morality are we upholding if we are startled by condescending behaviour during the war, while justifying murder? Let us be honest: war is the biggest condescention of all, in any case. For it is the absolute assumption that one group of people is 'better' than the other – to such an immoral extent that it allows that group to kill the other.

One could of course make a case about self-defence in favour of war. But let me not go into the polemics of what constitutes 'just war'. That's a different discussion altogether. What I'm getting at here is that if drones bombing civilians is considered to be sad but inescapable 'collateral damage', than the type of scenes portrayed in the video can just as well be considered sad but inescapable 'collateral moral breakdown' – just like in the case of Abu Ghraib. And if the latter seems like an outrageous proposal, then, by all means, let's be honest and consider the former to be far more outrageous.

So, to all my American friends and aquaintances, here's a little thought: if America has lost its 'moral authority' in the world, I guess it isn't because of its moral lapses in cases like this video that surfaced last week, but it's because of the permanent moral mistake of an immoral obsession with war.

The annual military budget of America in 2010 amounted to 48% of the total Federal Budget, i.e. 1,372 billion USD. That's a staggering amount, certainly considering that every advance towards some more generalised health care is immediately opposed. This means that, as a state, America sees more benefits in waging war than in providing health care for the poor. And that, my friends, is a lot more shocking to most people in the world than the video that became so debated among you.

Considering therefore that new presidential elections will come soon, please, let me ask you to choose the candidate that has the moral insight to stop America's focus on war – whoever that might be. For apart from all the other moral discussions going on – on abortion, gay rights, etc. – it is time to aknowledge that the biggest immorality of them all is, and always will be, war and the social mechanics behind it.

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