Earlier today I linked to a column by Glenn Greenwald that decried the antipathy and callousness most Americans, in particular, feel whenever there is a news report that one of our bomb or drone attacks ends up killing Muslim or Arab children. We treat such news as little more than the most ephemeral ho-hum.
To be fair, this attitude is not just shared by America and her allies. I'm sure many Muslim and/or Arab families react much the same way to attacks on Western targets that end up killing and maiming children. When it's your kids, it is an unmitigated outrage; when it's their kids...well, accidents happen (sorry)!
Interestingly enough, these unsympathetic attitudes melt away when the cause of the deaths of innocent children do not come directly from human hands or, at least, not from malevolent human intent. Regardless of religious, nationalist or ideological persuasion, people from all over the world mourn the deaths of children when the cause is a climactic event or some sort of tragic accident.
If a volcano explodes, an earthquake shatters or a typhoon sweeps away scores of villages, nations are there to offer all sorts of assistance...even to their sworn enemies. It is in these situations that we are able to put aside time-honored animosities to mourn the senseless loss of life.
Why are we able to offer heartfelt compassion under one set of circumstances and yet show supreme disinterest in another?
It is a question for our times that is rarely broached.