All Are Responsible

04/17/2007 10:49 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

All America is in shock and tears -- and should be -- over the murder of 33 students at Virginia Tech.

How much of America is in shock and tears at the report from Afghanistan that American marines used "excessive force" last month, in a machine-gun rampage that covered 10 miles of highway and left 12 civilians dead, including an infant and three elderly men? One 16-year-old newly married girl was cut down while she was carrying a bundle of grass to her family's farmhouse. A 75-year-old man walking to his shop was hit by so many bullets that his son did not recognize the body when he came to the scene.

This was not just "excessive force." In international and US domestic law, it was murder, as were the killings in Virginia.

Both events are disgusting. Neither is surprising. We have a government of old men who turn guns and bombs into Idols for the worship of their own power. Is it surprising when young men in Afghanistan or Virginia use such guns to worship their own power?

Certainly these killers bear personal responsibility for their actions. Whatever nightmares, fears, and rage haunted the Virginia or the Afghanistan killers are not excuses for their murders. Neither is the official arrogance that for no legitimate reason sent armies to shatter Iraq, or the official arrogance that turns ownership of assault weapons into a Constitutional right.

If the President is serious about being horrified by the Virginia killings, let him KNOW, TODAY -- ask Congress to outlaw assault weapons and announce NOW, TODAY, the beginning of a commitment to a swift completion for bringing safely home US soldiers from the US occupation of Iraq -- an occupation as criminal, and as rooted in the worship of violence, as the murders in Virginia.

And as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel taught,: In a free society, when officials commit crimes, some are guilty; all are responsible.


That means all of us.