Column written 5/8/02 Copyright 2002 Mumia Abu-Jamal

A WOMAN'S WORK

When one thinks of war, we are conditioned to think
of men in fatigues, perhaps in formation, marching, or driving their malevolent machines of death.

That is the dominant face of war, to be sure, but it is not its only face.

If we broaden our perspective of war, and consider the many victims of war, we find a woman's face, and the shattered faces of children.

In every major war that has been fought in the last century, the death toll has been highest among the so-called 'non-combatants' - women and children.

How could it be otherwise in a world of weapons that drop or launch death on such vast scales as was seen in the world wars, Vietnam, and every imperial skirmish since?

Historian Howard Zinn, in his recent Terrorism and War (New York: Open Media/Seven Stories, 2002), recounts some of the human costs of the much-lauded war in Afghanistan:

It's clear that civilians are being killed in the bombing. I read an account of one attack on the town of Gudara on December 1. "The village is no more," a survivor of the attack said. "All my family, twelve people, were killed. I am the only one left in this family, I have lost my children, my wife. They are no more." [p. 84]

The MyLai massacre of Vietnam was extraordinary in the sense that it received extraordinary media coverage. There were millions -- millions! -- of men, women and children who perished in the hellish conflagration of the Vietnam-U.S. War. Of the 3 million Vietnamese who were bombed, burned, or shot to death during the war, how many were military combatants? A quarter of a million? 500,000? A million?

If that is so (and that figure is surely debatable) then the vast majority were surely non- combatants -- women, and their children.

Again, Howard Zinn, the eminent historian, provides an invaluable perspective; that of historian, and of participant. As a young man in WWII, he was a bomber- pilot, and, as such, knows about civilian casualties, the inevitable outcomes of modern war:

We also have to ask another question: "Is it reallyan accident when civilians die under our bombs?" Even if you believe the Pentagon's claim that its intention is not to kill civilians, if civilians in fact become victims again and again, and it's predictable that they will, can that be called an
accident? If the deaths of civilians are inevitable in bombing, as Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged,
it is not an accident. The people prosecuting this war are committing murder. They are
engaging in terrorism. [Zinn, Terrorism & War, p. 87]

The average victim in this relentless history of war, death and loss, was not a uniformed, trained (or ununiformed) fighter, but a mother clutching her child, or a child looking at the sky burst into bright, pretty orange colors of destruction.

That is the real, untold lesson of Hiroshima, of Nagasaki, of Hanoi, of Phnom Penh, of Dresden, of London, of Nanking, of Birmingham, of Philadelphia, of the ongoing war against women and children.


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Text (c) copyright 2002 by Mumia Abu-Jamal. All rights
reserved. Reprinted by permission of the author.
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Mumia Abu-Jamal is the author of three books: 'Live
from Death Row', 'Death Blossoms', and 'All Things
Censored'.

Write to Mumia directly at:
Mumia Abu-Jamal AM 8335
SCI-Greene
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370