It will take an artist like Salvador Dalí to portray the upcoming trial of Providence resident Glendon Scott Crawford. Prosecutors say Crawford, out of hatred, built a death ray machine to kill Muslims.
If Crawford did what prosecutors allege, then Muslims and non-Muslims alike will be better off if he is locked up for a long time.
Nevertheless, it is surreal that the federal government is prosecuting a man who is, as Justin Mason’s March 20 article reported, “driven by his hatred for Muslims and relentless desires to silently harm them from afar.” Apparently, Crawford was unaware that our federal government is doing that right now with its weaponized drones assassination program, directed from the White House, killing suspected Muslim terrorists half a world away and killing hundreds of civilians in the process.
It is surreal also that Crawford is being prosecuted by a government that has gone far beyond anything Crawford ever dreamed of, and far beyond the biblical “eye for an eye,” in exacting revenge for the nearly 3,000 Americans killed on 9/11.
According to a Boston College report, “Assessing the Human Toll of the Post 9/11 Wars: The Dead and Wounded in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, 2001-2011,” (written by political science professor Neta C. Crawford) around 12,000-14,600 Afghan and about 126,000 Iraqi civilians were killed during this period. During the past 13 years we have also killed scores of Muslims in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other countries. It is hard to imagine how Glendon Crawford thought he could do a better job killing Muslims than our federal government has.
Even before 9/11, we were killing Muslims by the thousands both directly and indirectly. Our sanctions against Iraq caused the deaths of upwards of 567,000 Iraqi children, according to a New York Times article (Dec. 1, 1995) and what was our government’s response to these deaths?
On 60 Minutes in May 1996, Lesley Stahl asked then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” Albright, who did not dispute the numbers, responded, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.”
One of the charges against Crawford is “conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.” This charge is being brought by a government that has the world’s largest arsenal of WMDs.
We used weapons of mass destruction in our wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, including cluster bombs that were prohibited by the Convention on Cluster Munitions treaty in 2008, a treaty the United States refuses to sign even though most of our European allies have, as have Iraq and Afghanistan. We also used white phosphorus bombs in Iraq, which have not been outlawed. When white phosphorus gets on the skin, it burns to the bone, much like napalm. Both of these weapons are at least as cruel, if not crueler, and more deadly than Crawford’s X-ray machine, which some scientists believe would never have worked.
The United States has a long history of killing Muslims. Muslim states and terrorist cells would have to kill Americans at an unprecedented rate to overcome the imbalance of trade in corpses. For every American killed by Muslim terrorists, more than 100 Muslims have died. This killing goes back decades, to at least 1953 when the CIA helped overthrow Mohammad Mosaddegh, the first Iranian to receive a Ph.D. from a European university and the democratically elected prime minister of Iran. In a perfect example of going from the frying pan to the fire, he was replaced by the Shah, who was eventually overthrown by Islamic fundamentalists in 1979.
Former President George W. Bush had the temerity to ask a few days after 9/11, “Why do they hate us?” Osama bin Laden made it clear that U.S. interference in the Middle East and the deaths of children in Iraq were partly why he launched the attacks on 9/11. We created an atmosphere in Muslim countries which gave rise to people like the Ayatollah and bin Laden, and it may not be too much of a stretch to say we created an atmosphere where unstable people like Glendon Scott Crawford could surface in upstate New York.
That doesn’t excuse Crawford. He has to pay for his crimes, just like the perpetrators of 9/11 had to pay for theirs. But what about the real war criminals? Those in positions of authority in our country, past and the present, who have in most instances unnecessarily waged war on Muslim countries; and who have tortured, imprisoned without trial and assassinated not only combatants but thousands of noncombatants, including children. Who is going to hold them responsible?
President Obama has carried on Bush’s policies in the war on terror. While the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have wound down, Obama has ramped up the covert war in places like Yemen. Every time one of his drones kills civilians, as in the December 2013 attack on a wedding party, al-Qaeda reaps a harvest of new recruits. Bush and Obama alike have blood on their hands. Crawford should be thankful that the same government that has killed hundreds of thousands of Muslims stopped him before he, too, had blood on his hands.
Daniel T. Weaver lives in Amsterdam and is a regular contributor to the Sunday Opinion section.