America may be broke, but Syrian dictator Bashar Assad can afford plenty of bullets. His troops had a busy weekend, according to an Associated Press report:
Syrian troops kept up attacks on the restive city of Hama Monday, the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a day after a brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters killed at least 70 and drew harsh rebukes from the U.S. and Europe.
Sunday was one of the bloodiest days since the uprising against President Bashar Assad’s authoritarian rule began in mid-March. Six Syrian rights groups said in a joint statement that 74 people were killed throughout the country, 55 of them from Hama and neighboring villages.
Hospitals around Hama are said to be packed with casualties, so the death toll is likely to rise considerably. These attacks aren’t just Assad goons picking off unarmed protesters from rooftops with sniper rifles – they’re using tanks to shell the city. It’s not much different from what Moammar Qaddafi was doing to Benghazi at the beginning of the Libyan war. (Who? Where? What war?)
Why the rush to start butchering all these people? It’s because the Muslim holy month of Ramadan just began. The government fears that extra prayer services in rebellious towns like Hama will lead to big protests. You might recall from the military operations in Iraq that Ramadan is presented to the West as the religious justification for a total cease-fire. Muslim rulers, on the other hand, don’t stop shooting during Ramadan, but they do apply a significant reduction to the rate of increase in dead bodies, the same way American politicians “cut” government spending.
The Western world sprang into action after Sunday’s bloodbaths, and began scribbling the latest round of Strongly Worded Letters:
President Barack Obama on Sunday called the reports “horrifying” and said Assad is “completely incapable and unwilling” to respond to the legitimate grievances of the Syrian people. On Monday, Britain’s foreign secretary William Hague said there is no prospect of international military intervention in Syria, despite an assault by the regime on protest strongholds.
Even by the standards of international diplo-speak, doesn’t describing the perpetrator of this weekend’s bloodbath as “completely incapable and unwilling to respond to the legitimate grievances” of the people he murdered seem a bit… weird?
Leaving aside the incoherent politicians of the Western world, who are terribly busy trying to lose a war in Libya, why haven’t we heard more outrage from the bold, irreverent, politically conscious giants of our entertainment community about the slaughter in Syria? If Bono can spare a moment, I think it might be time to release a new version of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” with updated lyrics. The original song was about a dozen people killed by government forces, a decade before the song was written, and it became a consciousness-raising global sensation. Assad does a dozen innocent people before lunch on a slow day.
How about it, rock gods? Aren’t the slain innocents of Syria worth commemorating in song? Isn’t the brutal dictator who killed them worthy of some timeless musical condemnation? Nobody can stop Assad, but why isn’t anyone mourning his victims?