War on Wogs
August 13, 2002
Back in the days of the British Empire, the Brits
had a rude word for the natives of the countries they ruled: wogs.
It was said to be a derisive abbreviation of the phrase worthy Oriental
gentlemen. Later an anonymous wag observed, Wogs start at
Calais that is, right across the English Channel. Even the
French were wogs!
dont call people wogs we prefer to speak of
denizens of the Third World but is our attitude so
different? When 3,000 innocent Americans are murdered, its an
inexpressible horror, to be commemorated and avenged. And if a few
innocent wogs get killed in the process, who cares?
How many innocent
Afghan wogs have been killed by U.S. firepower? Nobody seems to be
counting. How many Iraqi wogs were killed in the 1991 Gulf War? How
many died of disease and malnutrition because of the destruction of the
infrastructure, the pollution of waterways, and the subsequent
sanctions? By some estimates, hundreds of thousands, most
of them children. Thats a lot of wogs. But then, wogs are the sort
of people we dont keep statistics on. A wog is nothing if not
How many wogs will
be killed in the coming war? Many times 3,000, its safe to say. Our
government will seek to avoid civilian casualties, but there
will inevitably be collateral damage, even in a just
cause. Do wogs feel anything like the horror we felt last
September 11 when our planes and missiles rain death on their cities? We
most non-Westerners, but its not exactly a racial term because it
embraces many races. It really means people we dont quite
consider human. And there are areas of ambiguity. Black Africans are
human when they suffer at the hands of white rulers. But after the whites
are overthrown or driven out, and the blacks slaughter each other in huge
numbers, as in Rwanda, they become wogs again.
As for the
remaining whites in South Africa and Zimbabwe, who are now being robbed
and murdered with the approval and even incitement of the new black
tyrants, well, dont ask.
arent wogs, but Palestinian Arabs are. Our media mourn dead
Israelis (meaning Jews no Arab is ever called an
Israeli). Dead Arabs are ignored. You could get the impression that only
Jews die violently in Israel and the occupied lands; the truth is that far
more Arabs do.
Life is cheap to
those people, we say; what we really mean is that the lives of
those people are cheap to us. Of course we are also
those people to those people. If the situation were
reversed, they might treat us with contempt too. We would become the
ago noticed that all races have difficulty seeing other races as fully
human. The ancient Greeks notoriously considered all non-Greeks
barbarians, babbling animal noises. The fancy name for this attitude is
Ethnocentrism is only
natural. We sympathize most easily with people like ourselves. We regard
our own customs as superior to customs we dont understand.
But we cross a moral
line when we treat people as wogs, without rights and
feelings like our own. In fact we treat the designated wogs worse than
animals. If President Bush announced that he intended to kill every dog and
cat in Baghdad, animal lovers would be outraged. It would cause more
indignation than making war on the wogs. Just as a rule of thumb,
dont do to a wog what you wouldnt do to a pet.
The people we think of
as wogs, even if we dont put it that way, are quite intelligent.
They know perfectly well we would never bomb London or Paris or, no
matter how outrageously the Israelis behaved, Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.
We are uneasy at the
prospect of wog countries getting weapons of mass
destruction. But we should also be uneasy about our own. Mass
destruction is a euphemism for mass murder. Our reasoning seems to
be that only we are civilized enough to be entrusted with
such supremely uncivilized weapons.
True, the United States
is also the only country that has ever used those weapons. But after all,
we had to use them. We were dealing with wogs.