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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Marines aren’t the only ones who need to show restraint

By Aaron Zundel

On Nov. 19, 2005, a roadside bomb detonated in the Iraqi town of Haditha, and the resulting explosion killed Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, a U.S. Marine.

While there are differing accounts as to what exactly happened afterward, we do know that there was a firefight between insurgents and the surviving Marines. There were also civilian casualties: Twenty-four civilians-men, women and children-have been confirmed dead.

What’s so interesting about all this is the rabid voracity with which people have sensationalized this story. Congressman John Murtha, D-Pa., stated that in the aftermath of the attack the Marines simply went berserk and slaughtered civilians in frustration and “cold blood”-but he’s not the only one getting way ahead of himself.

Without any real evidence at all, many have even gone so far as to draw comparisons between the still unknown events at Haditha and the bloodbath in Vietnam in 1968. Ted Rall, a syndicated liberal columnist, just printed an article claiming that Americans should “wake up and smell the butchery” in this “My Lai-style massacre.”

There is, however, one very important piece being left out of the emotionalism and rhetoric sweeping the nation: There aren’t any real facts out yet. There’s only speculation, conjecture and hearsay.

That’s not to say that the Marines are innocent. It is entirely feasible that the Marines from the 3rd Battalion stalked from building to building, pumping round after round into innocent civilians to vent their own frustrations or to slake their bloodlust. But it’s just as feasible that the civilians were killed by mistake, or even by direct conflict with the Marines.

With the investigation into the incident ongoing and the lack of concrete facts, it’s sad that there is this impulsive willingness among so many here in the United States to condemn their own military; it’s shocking that so many absolutely refuse to give any benefit of the doubt to those men in uniform who risk their lives for all of us everyday. Indeed, it’s ironic that in a country that prizes its unassuming judicial system, people have declared these men guilty until they can prove their innocence-not the other way around.

Shamefully, what’s driving all the speculation and condemnation of the Haditha incident is not a true outrage over what happened, but an excess of anti-Bush sentiment.

Many people, especially those on the left, want to believe that this incident happened because the Bush government is rotten and corrupt and that Abu Ghraib and Haditha are simply extensions of Bush policy. They want so much to believe that a “massacre” took place because it would justify their own feelings toward the war.

While this string of logic is indisputably faulty (after all, if Bush is responsible for all failures, then is he not responsible for all successes as well?), it is also dangerous.

In the end, if the official investigation finds the Marines in question to be guilty of the deaths at Haditha, the United States should serve them the same fate they doled out to their victims. It would be a strong example, both to Americans and to our enemies, showing that we are not afraid to hold anyone accountable for wrongdoing.

In the meantime, Americans should show respect toward those who risk their lives to protect us, regardless of personal feelings. Any rush to judgment or politicization of the issues is wholly inappropriate.

Aaron Zundel

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