Those Who Live In Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones

News & SocietyPolitics

  • Author Larry Farmer
  • Published August 3, 2022
  • Word count 578

Those Who Live In Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones

Since the Syrian Civil War and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, I’ve noticed Americans of all political persuasions suddenly talking about war crimes, generally inhumane methods of warfare and crimes against humanity, unprovoked invasions, and violations of the territorial integrity or national sovereignty of others. What short memories we have; do we not understand our own history? My mother used to call this ‘the pot calling the kettle black.’

Several years ago, Shepherd Smith of Fox News condemned Bashar al-Assad of Syria as a ruler who was killing his own people. What did he think Abraham Lincoln did? Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin have been roundly criticized in the media for inhumane methods of warfare. The criticisms generally revolve around the indiscriminate killing of civilians and the massive destruction of whole cities. A response to this is almost endless. Here are just a few examples: Sherman’s March to the Sea, Sheridan’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign, the 1945 fire bombing of Tokyo, the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima, and the atomic bomb being dropped on Nagasaki.

Even worse than inhumane methods of war is what is referred to as war crimes. War crimes are defined as the torture and/or execution of helpless civilians or unarmed soldiers. When the Russians withdrew from the Ukrainian capital of Kiev and surrounding areas, Ukrainian officials discovered possible war crimes that had been committed. Most of the offenses took place in the town of Bucha. There was evidence of civilians being summarily executed with their hands being tied behind their backs.

Assuming the reports are true, who are we to judge? Lieutenant William Calley and a platoon of American soldiers committed a similar atrocity in My Lai, South Vietnam. Going back even further, there was the Sand Creek massacre of Indians by the Colorado militia under the command of Colonel John Chivington. Virtually all of the Indians killed at Sand Creek were old men, women, and children. Later, Colonel George Armstrong Custer defeated a Cheyenne force under the command of Chief Black Kettle at the Battle of Washita River. Custer did face warriors, but many women and children were also killed. Finally, who could forget the Battle of Wounded Knee when a group of defenseless Indians were wiped out for straying off the Reservation? In more modern times, we are still trying to live down the stain of Abu Ghraib, a detention facility where Iraqi prisoners were systemically tortured by the American military and intelligence officers. And, of course, there are the water boarding and enhanced interrogation techniques that occurred at Gitmo.

Russia has been scorned by Americans for an unjustified invasion of Ukraine. Leaving aside all the complexities of Russia-Ukraine relationship, do we know why the United States invaded Iraq in 2003? Iraq had no involvement in the 9/11 attack on the United States. President George W. Bush said it was because Saddam Huessin, the dictator of Iraq, possessed weapons of mass destruction. After the dust had settled in Iraq, we found no evidence of such a capability. In fact, the intelligence reports that indicated otherwise have basically been proven to be bogus.

Needless to say, war and its consequences are terrible. General William Tecumseh Sherman labeled war as Hell. He was right, and we should work overtime to try and prevent such occurrences. However, we defeat the purpose of avoiding such catastrophes by casting stones, especially with our checkered history.

I received a bachelors degree in 1967 and a masters degree in 1971 from Western Kentucky University. I taught school for 44 years. One year was spent at Fordsville High School, 17 at Ohio County High School, and 26 at Trinity High School in Whitesville. The subjects I taught were government, history, and English. At Trinity I also served as coach, athletic director, and dean of students. I fancy myself a fairly good writer, and my main interests are sports and politics.

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