The cost of our current war on terrorism is approaching $350 billion. By comparison, the Korean War cost about $430 billion and the Vietnam War, about $600 billion in current dollars. An interesting difference is that we are financing this war with debt, much of which comes from Communist China, our enemy in the Korean War.
The motivation for this investment is the War on Terrorism with a particular focus on Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). This was brought to my rambling mind by the slaying of 5 innocent little girls yesterday just down the road from me just outside Quarryville, PA.
More perspective: over the past 10 years 72 children and adults, mostly children, have been shot to death in US schools and 101 injured. Overall, the number of people killed with handguns in 2003, the last date for which complete records are avaiilable, approached 30,000, including:
- 16,907 suicides (56% of all U.S gun deaths),
- 11,920 homicides (40% of all U.S gun deaths),
- 730 unintentional shootings (3% of all U.S gun deaths),
- 347 from legal intervention and 232 from undetermined intent (1% of all U.S gun deaths combined).
—CDC National Center for Health Statistics mortality report online, 2006.
The homicide rate alone exceeds the number of people who perished in the disasters of 9/11. Shouldn’t this count as terrorism? That would make the handgun a WMD and, considering the fact that the figures above are annual figures, should “handguns” not be included in any definition of WMD?
Couldn’t we find a billion or two somewhere—here or in China—to reduce the number of handguns floating around the US?
Of course, I am not just musing about semantic consistency. I have lived the majority of my life among the Amish and Mennonites. They have helped me build my house—in fact, they built the original structure 160 years ago. Every Satuday morning I hear the horse of one family clopping by the front of my house. They helped us raise our children, feed them, clothe them and in the history of this county (Union), none have ever spent a night in the local jail.
The Amish and Mennonites are the gentlest of creatures who take the incredibly difficult task Jesus Christ set before us, “turn the other cheek”, literally. And they have survived. Terrorism against them, I find especially heinous, and I don’t know why. My heart goes out to them and their families. It is the worst situation for a linguist: when words are useless, no matter how carefully chosen and shaped.