On his News and Comment radio show this morning, ABC Radio Networks host Paul Harvey said “the media should put a stop” to labeling “women and children” killed in war as “civilians.” He said, “It was civilians, for goodness sake, who decapitated New York City.”
Dictionaries define a civilian as “one not on active duty in the armed services or not on a police or firefighting force.” Harvey disagrees. According to him, “Since the invention of the aerial bomb five wars ago, there have been no civilians.” In other words, innocent people who are killed in war are military combatants because they are victims of a military attack.
Paul Harvey News describes itself as “the largest one-man network in the world, consisting of over 1200 radio stations, 400 Armed Forces Network stations that broadcast around the world, and 300 newspapers.” President Bush gave Harvey the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.
This isn’t the first time Harvey has callously wished for more viciousness in American war fighting. In 2005, he said the United States should use nuclear weapons in Afghanistan and Iraq. After recalling the use of atomic bombs during World War II, Harvey lamented that “we sent men with rifles into Afghanistan and Iraq and kept our best weapons in their silos.”
He then warned of the dangers of “civiliz[ing]” ourselves too much that we won’t use weapons of mass destruction:
We didn’t come this far because we’re made of sugar candy. Once upon a time, we elbowed our way onto and across this continent by giving smallpox-infected blankets to Native Americans. That was biological warfare. And we used every other weapon we could get our hands on to grab this land from whomever.
And we grew prosperous. And yes, we greased the skids with the sweat of slaves. So it goes with most great nation-states, which — feeling guilty about their savage pasts — eventually civilize themselves out of business and wind up invaded and ultimately dominated by the lean, hungry up-and-coming who are not made of sugar candy.
And hear this please. In Western Afghanistan, where NATO forces are involved in some of the deadliest fighting since January, among the 136 dead this morning suspect Taliban. But there are others, 51 villagers, mostly women and children. Might not the news media put a stop to such pulled punches wars as this, if we would just desist from categorizing civilians. It was civilians, for goodness sake, who decapitated New York City. Since the invention of the aerial bomb five wars ago, there have been no civilians.