In October, 2005, across the length and breadth of the MSM (Mighty Simple Minds) Kingdom, there went forth the long-awaited news. Finally, and at last, after two and a half years of intense battle conditions, the 2,000th American soldier died in Iraq. Never mind all the thousands of civilians killed by terrorists, never mind the beheadings and grisly murders, never mind the uncounted and summarily dispatched souls whose lives dripped from the hands of Saddam and his henchmen. Americans are special, each one, and they are especially special if they are dead soldiers in the grip of the anti-war Left.
Dead American soldiers are usefully pressed into service once again, this time by MSM seamstresses whose desire it is to make the fit between this war and the one of their youth. But it won’t happen; it can’t happen. They can no longer fashion public opinion and manage the news so that victory is turned into loss as it once was in Vietnam. This war is orders of magnitude smaller than “their” war. It is fought smarter, with a volunteer force who have better equipment and an allied government struggling to stay alive in the face of brutal assassinations and kidnappings.
That number stuck with me: two thousand soldiers gone since March, 2003. What was significant about that year? Ah, yes: four months after the war in Iraq began, a heat wave descended on the continent of Europe. It was August, the traditionally mandated vacation month for Frenchmen. So vacation they did. But without the old people. Dragging old people on a vacation — what kind of rest is that? So the murderous heat began to claim the old ones. They expired at the rate of five hundred a day, approximately three thousand a week. The bodies piled up in hospital corridors and in morgues. As those places overflowed with the dead, makeshift morgues were established. Meanwhile, the French continued their vacations.
By the third week, the funeral directors were out of coffins. The makeshift morgues were full. The government stonewalled. Crisis? What crisis? President Chirac told everyone not to worry. In fact, to demonstrate the French genius for public planning, he told everyone that next time there was a heat wave, people should go to the movies. For a long time afterward, the government solved the problem by denial, claiming there were three thousand official deaths. Meanwhile the General Funeral Services in France had their own figures and they were five times higher. In one month, France had the equivalent of five 9/11s in terms of mortality. And the band played on.
These deaths are the collective failure of a nation grown used to government doing everything for them, an accommodation which has produced an ethos of negligence. No need to worry about Grandpère, the government will see to him. This is the collectivist dream: the village does the caring, the individual goes on vacation.
Nor is there a need for soldierly sacrifice: just play nice with your enemies, negotiate your terms. Only the foolish, barbarous Americans will draw a line in the sand and make demands when a simple letter would do.
Since March, 2003, two thousand members of American military have died in the name of liberty because liberty is something they value. They saw meaning in offering freedom to others. The collectivists among us would have us call these deaths meaningless — while, of course, they studiously ignore the summer of 2003 in Europe. With a population of 60 million, France lost 15,000 in a month. For the purposes of comparison with America, our population of 290 million that year would have meant the deaths of 73,000 old people to reach the same mortality rate. Can you imagine the furor that would have been raised? We’d still be having Congressional hearings about it, demanding accountability, pointing fingers.
2003: the summer 37 American soldiers died in August in the line of duty while 15,000 elderly Frenchmen died of neglect.
And we’re the barbarians?
I can’t wait to see what happens when the “youths” of France finally turn to something else besides torching cars for fun. It’s growing cold now and the furor is dipping with the weather. But wait till next year. And see how much planning the French will have accomplished for the next outbreak. What will they do, send them to the movies to cool off?