Some Young Lives Matter More Than Others, Some Don’t Seem to Matter at All

Rachel ¡Presente! Image: JSC and AI Art Generator.

Perhaps I’ve become terminally jaded, but the blood-curdling bi-partisan calls from American politicians and pundits to obliterate Gaza–1.1 million children be damned–don’t surprise me much. Some young lives matter more than others. Others don’t seem to matter at all.

My mind flashes back to Rachel Corrie, who I got to know slightly through email correspondence while she was a student at Evergreen and an environmental activist, leading protests against industrial clearcuts on near verticle slopes that threatened to bury small towns in the Washington Cascades under landslides.

What does it say about the American mentality that this courageous young woman was blamed by many here for her own murder? After being crushed to death by an IDF bulldozer, while trying to keep a Palestinian family’s house from being demolished so their land could be confiscated and auctioned off to Israeli settlers, Rachel was roundly vilified instead of mourned. Political outrage was directed at her, not the regime that killed her. She had it coming, they said. She could have just gotten out of the way. She shouldn’t have been allied with “them.” She had no business being there.

What is it in the twisted American psyche that would make her own country turn on a 23-year-old woman–smart, humane, fearless, and beautiful–who was doing nothing more than protecting what we’ve been led to believe is the most sacrosanct American “right”, the right of property, the right to be secure in your home? 

It is, of course, the same mentality that pointed an accusatory finger at the Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu-Akleh for her own death, after being shot in the head by IDF snipers in Jenin, while wearing a helmet and vest emblazoned with “Press.” Some American lives matter more than others. Some don’t seem to matter at all. 

The government of these two brave and accomplished American women never pressed for answers about their killings, never demanded that anyone be held to account. If they had, perhaps, the real story about what’s been going on in Israel and the Occupied Territories might have gotten a brief airing in the American media. Instead, the money and the weapons continued to flow into the hands of a regime that had demonstrated over and over again its willingness to use them against anyone who stood in its way, even women from the country that provided them.

Now here we are again, having to ask ourselves how many children Biden’s shipment of weapons to Israel will kill? How many tiny limbs will be lost? How many small heads will be crushed in the rubble? Will we see the bodies our bombs have mutilated? Get a body count of the deaths our tax dollars have underwritten? What doctrine of just war decrees that the deaths of children justify the killing of more children? 

Where are the Rachel Corries and Shireen Abu Aklehs now, at this fraught moment? Voices who could break through the cacophony of vengeance, stand up against senseless slaughter and make the case for peace? And not just peace as a ceasefire, but a peace that rectifies the injustices of an apartheid system that has led to 75 years of dispossession, impoverishment, torture and killing. 

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents (with Alexander Cockburn). He can be reached at: or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3