“Our troops” (preferred term. Avoid “military” or “bombs”, as those words can get people upset) seem to have, regrettably, killed nine children inside a home in another inevitable accident in Afghanistan. This is going to present us with yet another challenge, linguistics-wise, because as you surely know by now, we have a very, very Christian President, which means that everything he orders his military to do, and everything his military orders our troops to do, is of course consistent with Christian principles.
I’ve been on the horn all morning with Washington on this potential PR disaster, and I know that my readers are concerned as well, lest our military missions or our rules of engagement be questioned (Tess Tip: “rules of engagement” reliably quells opposition, as it sounds too official and sophisticated for the average reader to dare question). But not to worry, Tess is on the case. A bit of shuffling around is in order, but if we work fast, we can prevent the usual whining about how “US aggression” has led to more civilian deaths, etc., blah blah blah.
Never fear, Dear Reader: As long as we get the words right, people will have forgotten all about those nine juveniles by, oh, Tuesday at the latest.
You see, when Christians kill, we have to have certain-wording. The right wording has been brilliantly used by our leaders these last two years to nip in the bud any dangerous notions that killing is somehow un-Christlike. I mean we all know that Jesus would be the first to commend the bombers for their good intentionsafter all, they were trying to kill “the enemy” and rid the world of evil, and just had a little, well, accident.
And Jesus saidwell never mind. Let’s move on to pious-sounding words from the other parts of the Bible or from cherished old hymns that are, well, more amenable to our purposes than all that stuff that Jesus taught, which really has no pertinence here. (Tess Tip: you’ll save a lot of time by skipping the Gospels altogether when justifying military defense killings, or when sanitizing military offense killings disguised as defense killings. I know all this is rather confusing, but the simple rule of thumb is in these situations is: Don’t quote Jesus.)
Think with me for a moment. We need to strategize. What kind of phrase would make this nasty little incident more palatable to the good Christians of America?
For starters, we’ll need a good Biblical-sounding word or two. “Evildoers” is usually a winner, but it’s been a bit overused of late. How about-hmm-“freedom”? Good, but not quite Biblical enough to cover our.to convey the Christian impulse behind this regrettable incident (Tess Tip: always include the word “regrettable” when families are killed, preferably followed pretty quickly by the word “inevitable”-but don’t use “collateral damage”, as a lot of folks are starting to see through that one).
Still no ideas? Okay, let’s just admit we’re stuck for a moment, and go back to the AP story, 12/6/03. That should give us some ideas:
“An American A-10 aircraft struck a site south of Ghazni where a “known terrorist” was believed to be hiding at about 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Army Maj. Christopher E. West told The Associated Press. “Following the attack, ground coalition forces searching the area found the bodies of both the intended target and those of nine children nearby,” he said. The U.S. military was sending a team of investigators to the site to determine if U.S. forces were at fault,” West said.”
Oh icky, that’s no good-words like “attack”, “bodies”, “children”, and fault” are to be avoided at all costs. Let’s move on to another paragraph:
“”We regret the loss of any innocent life and we follow stringent rules of engagement to specifically avoid this type of incident while continuing to target terrorists who threaten the future of Afghanistan,” West said.”
Much better! Our wording should include something about our dedication to preserving “innocent life”, which we should, of course, quickly follow by reminding the reader or listener that, even though we did the killing, there were bad people (including a “known terrorist”) out there threatening the very victims that we inadvertently killed.
Hey, are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Now we’re getting somewhere. Try this on for size: Those nine were the very children that we were protecting, but, because of the bad people nearby-or, well, somewhere around there-anyway, in that region or that country (is Afghanistan the Middle East?!), oh you know what I mean-we had to drop some bombs. And -and -and they hit that house with the kids in it, and -and -and you see, (oh wait, this is good) if we hadn’t done it, the terrorists probably would have, sooner or later! So, voila-We were actually protecting the children, but because the known terrorist wouldn’t come out and show him- or herself to our bombers, those poor children got killed instead. The terrorists, you see, killed themin a manner of speaking.
Only one problem remains, and it’s an important one, so let’s not stop here. Where can we insert some Biblical wording to ease the conscience of any Bush supporter who might be fond of that troublesome “Christ” part of Christianity (compassion, millstone-around-the-neck for those who hurt children, blessed are the merciful, etc.)? Never fear, a quick look at the speeches of our own very, very Christian President may do the trick:
“They’re nothing but a bunch of cold-blooded killers and that’s the way we’re going to treat them.” George W. Bush, talking to soldiers at the largest US military base, Jan. 3, 2003.
OOPS! Never mind that one, strike it from the record please. There MUST be something better, somewhere here in my files, oh, what’s this? Let’s take a peek:
“I know that the families of our military are praying that all those who serve will return safely and soon. Millions of Americans are praying with you for the safety of your loved ones and for the protection of the innocent.” George W. Bush, 3/19/03
“Prayer”! That’s the ticket! It’s on the cover of dozens of bestsellers-believe me, it’s highly persuasive at this time. You see, as long as you link the word “prayer” with any kind of activity, and I do mean ANY kind of activity, it becomes “sanctified”, in a sense: If you pray that the President’s decisions will be right, then, well, think about it! Whatever decision he subsequently makes will bewhat? Correct, of course, and Godly, too! You wouldn’t want to question God, would you?
That’s why www.presidentialprayerteam.org is so successful. When you tell citizens to pray for political figures, this gives millions of well-intentioned Christians the subliminal message that, after praying for their President, whatever their President does or does not do is, ipso facto, the will of God Himself. Could you ask for anything more perfectly designed to squelch doubts or questions or pangs of conscience?
Okay, so now let’s put it all together to develop our special wording (tactical words are underlined for your convenience): “We regret the loss of any innocent life, and pray that our actions will, in time, help us in our efforts to free the people of Afghanistan and Iraq from the terrorists who threaten their future.”
Well we’re pretty much finished, but, well, doesn’t it lack-sparkle? Don’t you think it should end with something that sounds righteous, patriotic, maybe even divinely inspired? Let Tess rummage around once more to see if there’s anything fitting.
Here it is! George W. Bush, in his State of the Union address, Jan. 28, 2003: “For so many in our country — the homeless and the fatherless, the addicted — the need is great. Yet there is power, wonder-working power in the goodness, and idealism, and faith of the American people”
Ready? Set? Done! Our special wording, presented below, will ease every Bush-supporter’s qualms, and even the most ardent Christian’s concerns, about those nine little ones who were-well basically, in the wrong place (at home) at the wrong time (when we came a-bombing):
“We regret the loss of any innocent life, and pray that our actions will, in time, free the people of Afghanistan and Iraq (insert other countries as desired), from the terrorists who threaten their future. The people of Afghanistan and Iraq and (insert countries) long for freedom, and we are making the sacrifices to bring that freedom to them and to all the people of that troubled part of the world. We know that we will prevail because there is power, wonder-working power in the goodness and mercy of our troops and the American people.”
All Spinitaway phrasing is a public service of TESS HARPER Enterprises and may be used to sanitize and justify all regrettable but inevitable accidents on an as-needed basis by Mr. Wolfowitz, Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Bremer, Mr. Perle, Mr. Cheney, Gen. Sanchez, Fox News, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Pat Robertson, Thomas Friedman and the New York Times, Jerry Falwell, Bill O’Reilly, James Dobson, Rush Limbaugh, the Rendon group, Clear Channel radio stations, Condi Rice and/or President George W. Bush entirely free of charge and without permission of the author.
TESS HARPER can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org