Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

What is the value of life?

As of April 7, the death toll in Gaza is reported to be 33,137 people. People can debate about whether this number is higher or lower than what is being reported, but honestly I couldn’t care any less about that. If we give a massive margin of error of 5,000 lives, we are still looking at the deaths of 28,137 people in the best possible scenario. And yet, despite the unthinkable amount of lives lost, there are still those who think it isn’t enough to be worried.

Republican representative of Michigan Tim Walberg was in a town hall meeting on March 25 speaking about the Israel-Hamas war when he was recorded as saying

“We shouldn’t be spending a dime on humanitarian aid. It should be like Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Get it over quick.”

I don’t need to explain why there is an absolutely massive issue with this statement. He later released a statement on Twitter (I won’t call it X) saying “the use of this metaphor, along with the removal of context, distorted my message” and that “as a child who grew up in the Cold War Era, the last thing I’d advocate for would be the use of nuclear weapons.” 

I don’t have even the slightest hope that these statements were made with saving lives in mind. His point that the quotes were taken out of context becomes more and more implausible with the continued statements that he has made in the days following the town hall.

Politicians are constantly making a choice about whose lives are worth more than others. If you pay attention, you can constantly see the moral scale of the value of lives teetering back and forth in the minds of U.S. government officials. 

In the Twitter statement, Walberg does not address that he was recorded saying there should be no humanitarian aid sent to Gaza. He also completely ignored the fact that he is a part of a subset of House Republicans who have and are still planning on actively voting against calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. While his words imply that he cares for the lives of innocent people, neither of these actions promote human life in any sense.

Walberg tries to claim his argument was that the sooner the war ends, the less innocent lives get caught in the crossfire. Yet he proceeds to double down later in the statement and “fully stand by these beliefs and stand by our allies.”

Again, in the same social media statement, he goes on to say that both Ukraine and Israel must “win their wars as swiftly as possible, without putting American troops in harm’s way.”

The lives that this man cares about are not the innocent people living in Gaza, the doctors and humanitarian workers or the silenced journalists who are being bombed by an indiscriminate IDF. The only people who he thinks are worth saving are the lives of Americans caught in the crossfire. He cannot and will not see the difference between Hamas and the innocent Gazan civilians who have been massacred for the last seven months. He is colorblind except for the red-white-and-blue.

In fact, his statement on saving American lives pushes me to believe that he did in fact promote the idea of nuclear weaponry being used in Gaza. During WWII, the United States saw American troops as having a higher value of life than the civilians in Japan. So, rather than losing the lives of Americans in a full-scale invasion of Japan, they opted to drop two atomic bombs on highly populated civilian cities, leading to the deaths of anywhere from 110,000 at low estimates to 210,000 at high estimates.

Walberg’s emphasis on protecting American lives promotes this same line of thinking, implying even further that sacrifice of other lives is worth it to save American lives.

In the eyes of many across America, the lives of innocent Israeli or American people on one side of a conflict are worth more than the equally innocent Gazan people who must fear for their lives each day. All life has intrinsic value, but to those with the power to affect each individual life, the values of them often vary greatly.

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