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We Don't Think Hard Enough About What Bombs Are And What They Do
If I told you that ten thousand people had just been murdered by terrorists in Portland, Oregon — including thousands of children — you would understandably be shocked and horrified. If I told you that they’d all been slashed to pieces by swords, your reaction would be even stronger.
But because the massacre in Gaza is being inflicted upon dark-skinned foreigners in the middle east and is being perpetrated using military explosives instead of blades, most westerners are going about their day without thinking about it much. The same number of people are just as dead as they would have been if they’d been hacked to bits in an American city, but for a westerner it lands different.
Because the western empire has been raining military explosives upon the middle east continuously for many years now, westerners have become desensitized to news reports about bombings happening there. If you tell a westerner “There’s been a bombing!” with anguish in your voice, they’ll immediately assume you’re talking about a terrorist attack in New York or London or Paris, not in the middle east. Westerners tend to regard bombings in the middle east as simply the normal state of affairs, as though bombs falling from the sky is just what the weather is like over there.
Westerners aren’t the most rigorous thinkers when it comes to the issue of bombs and bombing, and that’s entirely by design. An entire propaganda matrix has been constructed by the western empire to keep us from thinking too hard about what bombs are and what they do, which allows us to preserve our comfortable ideas about our nation and our government that we were taught to believe when we were children.
In Gaza we’re getting doctors saying “We saw children without heads” and “Some children could not be identified because of the severity of their injuries”, which comes as no surprise to people like myself who spend way too much time looking into this thing online and happen across horrifying footage of this nature on a regular basis.
That is what bombs do to the human body. They rip people to pieces. They squash them with falling buildings. They burn their flesh. They rip their guts out. They blow off body parts. They decapitate. But the public is generally sheltered from the reality of all this by the mass media, who will often just report on “blasts” and “explosions” occurring in empire-targeted territories without even saying who caused them, much less detailing the damage that they inflicted upon human flesh.
The effect these weapons have on the human body is every bit as nightmarish as what you’d see if there was an army of psychopaths going around murdering thousands of civilians with machetes and flamethrowers, but because it’s bombs it’s not getting the same kind of reaction from the general public.
Part of it is the fact that killing with bombs is something you do from afar. IDF soldiers looks at screens and hit some buttons, and poof, there’s a tiny explosion cloud. It’s not like looking someone in the eye as you run them through with a blade. It’s distant. It’s detached from reality.
Another part of it is that with bombs you can say you’re not intentionally killing civilians, even while you take actions that you know will kill a lot of civilians like firing military explosives into a densely populated area. Ostensibly it’s not that you want to kill civilians, it’s that you don’t care enough about their lives to refrain from killing them in that instance.
These dynamics help protect the people deploying the bombs from the guilt and trauma of killing large numbers of civilians, which actually makes it easier for them as a collective to kill large numbers of civilians. It lets them feel like they’re perpetrating less evil when in reality they are perpetrating more. Which of course benefits the power structure who is ordering them to deploy the bombs.
It’s like the invention of execution by firing squad: people in power needed to be able to kill their enemies, so they invented a system wherein multiple executioners fire at the victim simultaneously so that none of them can be sure that they fired the fatal shot. Sometimes one of the guns would even contain a blank cartridge, thereby feeding into the executioners’ ability to compartmentalize away from the reality of what they were doing by letting them believe they may not have even fired a bullet. This method of execution allowed for executions to continue in whatever numbers were deemed necessary, without putting a drain on troop morale.
With bombs the same dissociation dynamic is used to a much, much deadlier effect. Both the public and the troops are given the ability to psychologically compartmentalize away from reality and pretend no great evil is being done, the end result of which is to allow much, much more evil to be done. Israeli forces are massacring Gazans no less brutally than if they were mowing them down with machine guns or stabbing them with bayonets, but because the method of massacre lets them dissociate, it allows for a much higher degree of compliance from the troops and a much higher degree of consent from the public.
A tremendous amount of depravity hides behind the completely baseless western delusion that murdering people with bombs is less of an atrocity than murdering them with bullets or blades. In reality, murder is murder and dead is dead. The sooner we can get real with ourselves about that as a civilization, the better.
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