Do you hear what I hear?


Photo by Tom Pratt.. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.




Every way I turn my head, I hear echoes from 9/11.

What I hear:

Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump. The excited heart of George W. Bush as he envisioned finishing what his father had started and planting Uncle Sam’s big boot on Iraqi oil fields.

No! No! No! The screams of babies, children, mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles as they’re being pierced, shattered, and  torn apart by guns, mortars, bombs, and collapsing buildings, courtesy of the U.S. military.

Thud, thud, thud.  Earth and sand being thrown on all those graves.  There in Iraq. Here in the US.

What I don’t  hear:

Triumphant cheers from Iraqi perpetrators of 9/11. And why not? Because Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

The hum of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq—there were no WMDs in Iraq until the US sent its troops.

Can you hear what I hear?

The echoes are getting louder. The reverberations are getting stronger.

Beat.   Beat.   Beat. The sound of the war drums. [ ]

               My poet friend Tom Greening [ ] has a message that is relevant to all the Americans eager to gear up, flaunt their weapons, increase the Department of Defense budget, refill their pockets, distract people from problems at home, and once again make a bad situation worse:

Waging war is often occupational therapy
for men unsure about their
masculinity and life goals
and deluded about
how best to serve their country.
Patriotism should not be confused
with chauvinism and adolescent posturing.

What do I want to hear?

I want to hear all the anti-war groups, all the anti-violence groups, all the pro-peace groups, all the nonviolence groups join together and just say NO! No troops. No bombing. No more killing.


The image in the upper right  of this post is a poster from Arlington West Memorial Project of the Veterans for Peace (Licensed under the Creative CommonsAttribution 2.0 Generic license). Learn more about the Veterans for Peace projects at:

This entry was posted in Armed conflict, Children and war, Economy and war, Nonviolence, Patriotism, September 11, 2001 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Do you hear what I hear?

  1. Gold Dust Twin says:

    Thanks for the link to Tom Greening’s poems. They are right on target, “target” itself suggesting what we don’t want ourselves or our fellow human beings to be. I recommend the poems to everyone — hawks, peaceniks, adults, teenagers, males, females, gays, activists. The conclusion of Malley-Morrison’s essay, What do I want to hear?, is itself a heartfelt poem: Just say NO!

  2. Erin says:

    “The first casualty, when war comes, is truth” – Senator Hiram Johnson. This quote by Senator Johnson I believe concisely summarizes one of the biggest problems within the relationship between war and the media. The Iraq War discussed in this post is a prime example because it was so controversial. According to the article by Dimitrova and Stromback, “Mission Accomplished? Framing of the Iraq War in the Elite Newspapers in Sweden and the United States”, the Iraq War being so controversial immediately made it difficult for the media (2). The article discusses the techniques of framing and how it is often use to appease the needs and values of different audiences. After conducting a study, the authors found that the coverage of the Iraq War differed significantly between Sweden and the United States. As this blog post indicates many people were mislead as to why the Iraq War started. Bush tried to connect it to 9/11 and protecting the world from weapons of mass destruction. Dimitrova and Stromback point out that the United States has a tendency to rally behind is president especially in time of war. Because of this, many Americans were led astray as to the causes of the Iraq War. This miscommunication was further perpetuated throughout the war by the media. When comparing two major newspapers in each country, the authors found that US newspaper posted significantly more positive stories about the war than Sweden. They also found that the US used anonymous sources in 78% of its articles compared to only 54% of the Swedish articles (13). Framing is all about localizing the coverage in order to affect the perception of the event. Therefore, in order to maintain the perception that we were the heroes in Iraq the media had to post more positive stories and be careful what they showed. Of course it is not just the media that tries to influence how Americans view certain military actions. The article “Urgent Folly” by Corgan and Malley-Morrison discusses how the government utilizes this same strategy of framing. They use it in various ways from framing the numbers of causalities to the names of the missions. In the Iraq war the government started using more inspiring names such as Infinite Justice of Enduring Freedom. These methods of framing are being used to make the mission sound more patriotic and positive. Similar to the poem by Tom Greening in this blog post, this article shows how war is being framed as patriotic and noble in hopes of gaining more support. These media and governmental outlets have such a powerful influence over the perception of the public, I fear that until we have more truthful ways of knowing what’s going on, it will be hard for Americans to not be swayed by the media and its desired reactions.

  3. Brianna Stiles says:

    I absolutely agree with Erin in her comment. There is an issue with the government and media, and the way they frame situations for things such as war and bombings. We are often misled about what is really going on, and it affects the way we either support it or don’t. Often times things are framed in such a way that support is gained and not questioned. Erin did a great job in pointing all this out. However, another thing to consider is how to we restore peace. We are becoming aware that we have been tricked, so to speak, by our leaders into supporting something that has caused so much destruction and unrest. Now, it is time to look at how, if even at all, we can work to restore the peace in these areas such as Iraq. Professor Malley-Morrison is correct in saying we have to stop supporting these wars and bombings. It is time to take a stance towards peaceful restoration, and away from armed conflict.

    In an article written by Corgan, Malley-Morrison, and Castanheira titled, “Peace Restoration: An Ecological Formulation” this idea of shifting the focus towards rebuilding peace is discussed. They mention that peace is not a state, it is a process, and we need to put a greater emphasis in restoring peace, not just ceasing wars. They suggest that the reason we have wars and conflict is based on the micro, meso and exo, and macrosystems in our societies. The causes of war “lie in the nature of individuals, governments, and international systems.” It is important to look at all these things when striving to restore peace, as it is far more complex than just mending wounds between nations. Although this process is not easy, and it may not be successful every time, it is worth trying. As the authors of this article say, “there is more to be gained by striving for peace than continuing violence.” We cannot allow these things to keep happening, and it is time we restore the peace between nations and stop this battle.

    In the aforementioned article five steps to restoring peace are discussed. These steps incorporate the micro, meso and exo, and macrosystems of a society, and emphasize the importance of these in facilitating change. The steps set out to identify leaders that both sides can trust, to re-educate societies to stop thinking that the “enemy” is so different than us and to see the humanity in them, to re-establish infrastructure among social, economic, and educational systems, and to seek help from international resources when needed. The goal of this is to work with the parties/nations involved, along with international committees, to “address the kinds of violence that promote armed conflict.” This kind of conflict can only be ceased if we look at it from all the angles involved.

    It is important for us to restore peace with nations, in this case Iraq. We have spent so much time and effort bullying a nation that we really aren’t sure deserved it. Instead of waiting for and hoping it will fizzle out and we will “win” this battle, we should be redirecting our time and efforts towards restoring the peace.

  4. Reina Chehayeb says:

    Clearly these situations are extremely violent and take an immense toll on children who are unfortunately trapped in these environments. According to article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations state that “no one shall be subjected to torture, or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.” The violent actions taken on civilians in wars like these clearly violate this statement. There must be some compelling reasons to breach the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    The ecological model, as explained in Family Violence in the United States, discusses the different factors, both environmental and individual, that cause certain populations to be at risk of violence. The levels of the ecological model that are most relevant are the exosystem and the macrosystem. The exosystem includes the mass media, which clearly plays an important role in propagating ideas of violence and conflict. The macrosystem encompasses cultural and historical factors in addition to the idea of roles that different sides take in violent settings.

    I think it is difficult to stop a cycle of violence that is driven by these factors, which may be one of the biggest issues for children who are trapped in these environments. This cycle is especially vicious since children who grow up in a warzone are likely to learn that violence is a possible solution to conflict. According to the social learning theory, children learn what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors are not based on their experiences as they develop cognitively. This, paired with stress theory, makes children more susceptible to maltreatment by those who surround them. Social impoverishment and poverty are both stressful obstacles that are commonplace in warzones, and are both risk factors for maltreatment of children.

    The danger that children face in times of war is not being prevented well enough through culture, specifically in the US. Family Violence in the United States discusses how the US promotes war through the tolerance of violence and rationalization of various forms of aggression. It also repeatedly mentions that the majority of Americans believe that the government should not interfere with things like corporal punishment that may harm a child—what about when the child that is at risk for harm is living outside the borders? Also, it mentions how Americans tend to be reluctant to put full blame on perpetrators of sexual abuse, that almost a third of battered women were considered to have some responsibility in their battering, and that the US incarcerates the highest number of people in the world, which desensitizes its citizens to violence and makes it easier to justify, even on a larger scale.

    Wars like these can have severely debilitating effects on all those involved, but I believe that children are more susceptible to suffering the worst when living in such chaotic and unhealthy environments. This is a very difficult issue to tackle, since the causes and effects are things that cannot easily be changed, such as the popular opinions in US culture and the high levels of stress that come with living in a warzone.

  5. Amanda D. says:

    I thought this was an interesting post, although I didn’t completely agree with it. I was only a little girl when the U.S. invaded Iraq, and with the pain of 9/11 still very fresh on everyone’s hearts, it seemed that the entire country was ready to go to war. My aunt is the only person I remember who had objections to the invasion and, like many people who are extremely far right or extremely far left (in her case, left) politically, her concerns were certainly dismissed by everyone I saw her converse with.
    More than a decade later, hindsight has truly proven 20/20 and it would be difficult to find a person who thinks the Iraqi invasion was truly a good thing. It’s true that we live in a violent culture, with the U.S. having one of the highest child maltreatment deaths in the industrialized world, so perhaps it shouldn’t come as a shock that many Americans favored vengeance in the wake of a terrorist attack.
    The U.S. also got an opportunity to demonstrate its love for firearms and weaponry, which, given that nearly half of all U.S. households owns a gun, likely surprised no one in the many countries that don’t tolerate private (or even police) ownership of guns.
    Where I disagree with this post is the assertion that George W. Bush was “excited” to invade Iraq, primarily because we can’t really know that. To be clear, I certainly think that oil was a strong motivator to invade Iraq, but if that was the case, I don’t think it was solely Bush’s doing. I’m certainly not a fan of his policies and don’t think he was the best president we’ve ever had, but maligning his character as gleeful at the prospect of war when we don’t really know is a dangerous path to go down. I worry about the consequences statements like these could have, just as many worry about the salacious portrayal and glorification of violence in the media. The reality is that 60% of television programs contain violence, with 75% of this violence not resulting in any punishment or reprimand. While this type of injustice certainly does happen, it’s a dangerous message to send to impressionable youth that this is how it usually happens. With Bush and any other President who has been criticized during his term (read: all of them), it is probably ill-advised to send a message of absolute awfulness that we aren’t certain about, which the media will certainly encourage. I don’t think that’s the message kids should be getting about the leader of their country, especially when we can’t ever know how someone actually feels about a situation.
    The United States is one of the wealthiest nations in the world and certainly has an enormous amount of privilege, which, in the case of Iraq, was certainly abused to the detriment of others. It’s impossible to know what the future will bring, but hopefully we, as a society, will learn that violence and hatred are not the answer.

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