What Lives Matter?

Published in Foreign Policy .

During Thanksgiving dinner the NFL protests came into the conversation, unsurprisingly many around the table thought the players were “unpatriotic” and they should be fired. Naturally, I defended the NFL player’s freedom to not stand and mentioned that we should all support their freedom to do so. Ten minutes later the conversation went from the NFL, Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, to a subject which had true significance American life vs “other” life.


A family member of mine mentioned we should all be grateful for the troops protecting us overseas (as though a rural Afghani 8,000 miles away poses a significant threat to the U.S. population). Rather than dismiss my family members passion I tried to understand her point of view.

I asked her to explain to me what she thinks is the driving motive behind the terrorist actions? She didn’t have an answer, so I asked a few more questions.

I asked her how she would feel towards Mexican citizens and the Mexican government if in an effort to stop the drug lords, Mexico had for the last 16 years been flying drones over the USA and randomly dropping bombs which could kill her, her family, friends, and other innocents? Would she feel warmth towards Mexico and respect the Mexican citizens who vote for and fund that murderous government?

In an odd act to double down on her America first philosophy, she mentioned that the civilians in the Middle East aren’t Americans so they don’t have our rights. I pointed out that those innocent civilians are no different than her, neither she nor anyone else gets to choose where they’re born. Why should a birthplace determine the value of a life?

The conversation ended with her asking “so you think they want to kill us because we’ve been killing them?” Now I can’t speak for why someone else feels the needs to kill Americans. What I can say is if foreign people were dropping bombs over my head and killing my family and friends that might be all the motivation I need to respond with “terrorism.”

In 2016 the USA dropped 26,000 bombs on the primarily Muslim countries of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. How much murder has the United States government dished out in the Middle East over the last 16 years? It’s hard to quantify all innocent deaths in all countries affected by the United States bombings over the last 16 years, so we’ll just look at the state of Iraq. 1.2 million (3.2% of the Iraq population) citizens have been killed as a result of the war on terror.

Using the aforementioned analogy with the Mexican government, what do you think would be the typical American response to the Mexican government killing ten million (3.2% of America’s population) innocent Americans? Do you think your average farmer, soccer mom, banker, teacher, lawyer, doctor, etc. will have a favorable opinion of Mexico and the Mexican people? Do you think out of the ten million innocent deaths there might arise 100,000 passionate Americans who will undergo a mission to terrorize the Mexican government and the Mexican people? Would you consider those Americans fighting back terrorists?

I bet the average American wouldn’t see the retributive actions towards Mexico as terrorism, rather it would be viewed as patriotism, heroism, and self-defense.
It’s time to wake up and realize that all lives matter.

Blue lives matter and so do black lives, however, a person’s life isn’t more or less valuable because of a chosen profession or skin color. Likewise, all life matters regardless of one’s birthplace. America there is a fundamental truth you need to embrace if this world is to see peace and that is “American” lives aren’t more precious than other lives. It doesn’t matter if that life has the random accident of being politically labeled an American life or not. A person cannot choose where to be born, but a people can choose where to drop bombs.

Choices matter, make the right one and let’s stop voting for politicians who see non-intervention as weakness and the murder of millions as diplomacy.

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