We are all Joe Paterno

In State College, Pennsylvania, a dozen children, maybe more, were sexually abused and at least some of those kids could have been protected had the president of Penn State University and others, including Joe Paterno, not obfuscated the truth. We are rightly saddened and outraged by this. So why are we not more angry when the president of the United States lies us into a war in which thousands, probably tens of thousands of children are killed?

I ask this question not to diminish the terrible thing done at Penn State. I want to know why American citizens were willing accomplices to George Bush’s fraudulent war in Iraq. In this we were all Joe Paterno while women and children (and a lot of male civilians) were slaughtered by U.S. bombs. The mainstream news media, which is all over the Paterno story, was mostly silent during the lead up to the Iraq war, afraid of appearing biased if they reported the truth. It is as if they stayed quiet about Paterno because they didn’t want to offend any fans of Penn State football.

Presidents do sometimes have to make horrible decisions in order to protect the nation, trading civilian lives for national security. I would hope that this is an agonizing choice to make, one that a decent person would avoid whenever possible. I can’t understand how a president can justify manufacturing a rationale for bombing civilian neighborhoods.

Joe Paterno and the leadership of Penn State thought they were protecting the university when they decided to cover up Sandusky’s sexual abuse of children. Perhaps George Bush thought he was protecting the United States when he and his administration lied to the world about weapons of mass destruction. More likely he duped himself along with the rest of us, because he needed an excuse to attack Iraq and oust Saddam Hussein. Tragically, both cases led to harm of children. At least in the Penn State case, the victims have a chance at some restitution and the knowledge that the perpetrator is being punished. There is no one speaking for the thousands of dead children of Iraq.

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