We Are All “Collateral”

By Marne Kilates

Friends, I feel compelled to repeat what I’ve said about two things that are either so blithely name-dropped all around, or ridiculed and laughed at even by our friends. The first is “collateral damage,” and the second, of course, is that funny concept called “human rights.” (“Inalienable” is the adjective Secretary Yasay used to describe the latter in a recent speech in New York, the same word our Constitution or every other government that calls itself a “Government of Laws” uses, I suppose.)

I feel compelled to repeat because I am a bit tired talking about this. Well, just a bit. I guess I’ll never stop because these are things that cannot be ignored. No, I did not expect you to read everything I write (“Who is he!”), only because either you ignored or missed them (which is really okay), but sometimes you ask questions that I thought I’ve already answered. This is all for a fair exchange of ideas, of course, if that is still possible under the circumstances. I will not repeat what I posted although you can hunt for my previous posts on this page if you’re interested. So this is just what I have to say (not as lawyer or expert, because I am neither; but as a discerning human being and non-lawyer who feels it is important to know these things):

In a nation of laws, all citizens are protected from the harm that may be done to them by criminals or by their own government. One citizen’s fundamental rights, apart from the right to life and peace of mind, is the right to trial, to a fair hearing in court if ever one is accused of a crime. So many people have died, executed without arrest, warrant of arrest, never accused but executed outright. This is lawlessness. These people are not the “collateral damage” of any war. Only the American military industrial complex, which manufactures wars, calls them “collateral.”

But under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all people, you and me, have inalienable (there goes that word again) rights that must be protected by their/our own governments. Human Rights are for the protection of the innocent, not the criminals (who are also firstly ‘innocent’ until proven guilty). This is called due process, which we all want to give the president because he is being accused of so many bad things. (Meanwhile, those who never enjoyed due process — user or pusher or drugs, sometimes both victims, or innocent bystander — are dead.)

When our government abjures its obligation to protect us, drug war or no drug war (or because “drug users and pushers are not human therefore they have no human rights”), then it is a free-for-all: You and me and the government against each other. You and me and your friend or cousin or brother or sister, can become the “collateral damage” we talk so blithely about. When the government cannot protect us (because everyone else is cheering it on in its “drug war,”), it is as good as no-government. All of us are “collateral.”

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