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Over There

by Steve Young

Steve Young columns

As I sat down to write this week's column, I wondered at the futility of the task. Would anyone even read in the coming days? I'm sure all the news will be overshadowed by continued coverage of the bombing and the suffering of all those poor innocent people "not over here" -- the 54 (55?) killed, with hundreds more injured. Not soldiers; civilians going about their daily business. Even the Lords of Loud will probably even take a break from Aruba and how poor Karl Rove is being victimized to cover this story, as George W. Bush stoically reminds us why we will not let terrorism stop us from fighting the evil...terrorism. And you just know that all cable and news networks will continue to be tuned 24/7 to the aftermath. Who were the suicide bomber(s)? Who was the mastermind behind it? Who funded it? Who inspired it?

I'm kidding. I'm sorry. I couldn't hold it in anymore. I wasn't talking about the 50-plus civilians killed in London by the suicide bombers. I was talking about the 50-plus killed by a suicide bomber in Baghdad. But did you see what I did? I made it sound like London...because it was all so similar. Except for one thing: The impact on us. The impact on the White House. On Downing Street. On Americans. Why? Because it's not happening to us. It's happening to them. The only place we would care less is in a place of filled with darker skin. In those locales hundreds of thousands of them could perish without us losing a wink of sleep. Because it's over there and over there is a place where it's okay for innocents to die in the fight against terrorism. As one Lords of Loud is likely to say, "Don't you liberal wackos get it?! It's so we don't have to fight them here."

George M. Cohan's "Over There," once a patriotic battle song for us during WWI, has become the battle cry for the White House since 9/11. If we fight them over there we won't be fighting them over here. So unnerving is the threat that it would almost be anti-American to not agree. But built into the fear is the underlying lack of worth of over there.

Of course, we mollify ourselves by the belief we're saving them from the (go to it, Sean) ..."the torture chambers, the rape rooms. Would you rather still have Saddam in power? Would you? Would you?! Yes or no! Answer me!" Sorry. Got carried away with the grande tradition of talk show debate.
OVER THERE by George M. Cohan

(Chorus) Over There, Over There
Send the word, send the word,
Over There
That the Yanks are coming,
The Yanks are coming,
The drums rum tumming everywhere
So prepare,
Say a Prayer
Send the word,
Send the word to beware
We'll be over, we're coming over.
And we won't be back till it's over over there!

© 1917 by Leo. Feist, Inc, New York

We say that we don't care what the rest of the world thinks. We mean it. For if we did, we'd have to care about people being killed over there. The rest of the world over there. But we don't. If we did, the day to day Iraqi bombings would be as horrific to us as London or 9/11. Or as horrific as it is to each Iraqi citizen. But the Lords of Loud demean the lack of good stories coming out of Iraq. Why weren't they screaming for the good stories coming out of London last week?

Real simple. Because the deaths of Londoners, or what we think of as English-speaking Americans, are much more dreadful than the deaths of Iraqi citizens. Or, it seems, American soldiers.

The Lords of Loud may takes a few moments to mention the most recent suicide bombing in Iraq, though, chances are, before this column hits, there'll more suicide bombing and death knocking Saturday's attack off the "more recent" list. But even if the LoL do mention Saturday's death and destruction, in their customary "the war is going well" mode, they'll just place it neatly into their "why we're over there" rationale category.

If we truly felt for innocents lost, we'd list their names in our daily obituaries or on ABC's "The List" on This Week every Sunday, alongside the deaths of the famous and our soldiers lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. Or perhaps, there's just not enough ink or time. Or maybe it's just that their lives aren't as important as ours because they're...over there.

Steve Young is the author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" and can be heard on L.A.'s KTLK AM1150 (Sat 1-4PM) and read every Sunday in the L.A. Daily News Oped page (right next to Bill O'Reilly).

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Albion Monitor July 14, 2005 (

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