Editorial Roundup for Monday — November 14, 2005

• The flu; war in Iraq

The flu; war in Iraq

The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Nov. 1

Iowans shouldn’t be paying such close attention to news about avian flu that they forget about the flu that hits closer to home every year.

The specter of avian flu hovers over the entire planet, and the threat of a pandemic is very real. … Iowans should take comfort in the fact that health officials, both in the state and nationally, are closely monitoring developments associated with the disease, which has killed about 60 people in Asia since 2003. Though those officials disagree over how well they are prepared to deal with an outbreak, the state has established a pandemic flu plan that will soon be made public.

In the meantime, Iowans need to remember that, nationally, seasonal flu and flu-related pneumonia put about 200,000 people in the hospital and kill about 36,000 each year. In Iowa, flu and flu-related illnesses kill about 1,200 a year.

And there is something you can do to help protect your-self from it. Flu shots are readily available this year. Iowans, particularly those at greatest risk such as children and the elderly, should get them. …

Flu shots are effective; depending on the match between the viruses that are circulating and those that are in the vaccine, a flu shot can be 90 percent effective in preventing the flu. Get one for yourself, and make sure any children or elderly people for whom you are responsible get a shot, too.

The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun, Nov. 6

Two thousand Americans dead, countless dead Arabs. The war is far away, the casualty count is an abstraction.

We don’t want to see the pictures of the dead and wounded. The pictures make it real, make it personal, make it hurtful. Mostly kids in their 20s — they had not yet begun to live, and now they are dead.

Where is their memorial? Our national ritual calls for our elected leaders to call them heroes and venerate their “ultimate sacrifice.”

And we will collude in this exercise of national justification, as we always have, in the name of patriotism and honoring the courage of the dead, and in a well-meant desire to shield their survivors the pain of considering that their loved one’s sacrifice could have been avoided. With the ritual completed, we will accept the death of our young as the costs of furthering our current policies and give little or no thought to the matter again until the next war.

Let us honor our dead for their sacrifice in a just cause; overthrowing a ruthless dictator and freeing an oppressed people. Let us also, however, acknowledge our responsibility for their deaths in as much as we failed to elect leaders who could promote both peace and justice.

If we must wage war, let us do so quickly and decisively, and let us acknowledge, first and foremost, that war is not a demonstration of strength, but a failure of vision.


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