Cluster Bomb Hunt Served Noble Purpose
By Brian Hennessey
Scripps Howard News Service
WASHINGTON _ Dan K. Thomasson's "Eggs, the Easter bunny and cluster bombs" Op-Ed (sent by Scripps Howard News Service on April 12) was an object lesson in abject avoidance of real issues.
As the organizer of the Cluster Bomb Hunt in front of the White House, I can assure that our object lesson was not for children but for adults. And it worked, based on Thomasson's admission that these U.S.-made ``insidious weapons ... are horrible’’ and ``ridding the world of them is a noble undertaking.’’ Would he, the Washington Post, Good Morning America, Fox News, AP and dozens of other news organizations have written about these child-killers had we not held our event?
To this end, the children in attendance were encouraged to play normally and collect brightly colored balls in baskets to win prizes. While this was happening, parents and the media were told that in many former and current conflict zones children cannot play as our children do because of American-made `bomblets’ ... numbering in the millions.
On Easter and every other day, these bombs wait in places like Vietnam (for 35 years), Lebanon (for seven months) to claim the lives and limbs of innocent children for generations to come.
Children did not make replica bombs at our teach-ins. They made toys. Why a tennis ball in a bright yellow balloon can look like a bomb is a question that should be posed to our military designers who make bombs that look like toys and attract children as victims. They should also be asked why they use the same color _ yellow _ that we tell refugees will be for food packets.
If we can agree that terrorism is the killing of innocent civilians, perhaps we can conclude that a terrorist weapon is one that kills mainly noncombatants. More than even the suicide-bomb belt, the cluster bomb kills civilians almost exclusively (98 percent according to Handicap International, one of our dozen co-sponsors) and, unlike any other weapon, disproportionately targets children who are attracted to their toy-like appearance.
In organizing our event, I received two unexpected object lessons. First, the selfish and isolationist reaction of people like Thomasson shows many are far more concerned with American children ``having the time of their lives across the avenue’’ than children across the sea being blown to pieces by shiny, round and brightly colored objects stamped "Made in the USA."
Second, the weekend before the event I was buying prizes at a toy store and struggling (for two hours!) to find toys for kids that were not war- or weapon-related. Even the blue Easter basket arrangements for boys were laden with pistols, swords and even hand grenades that were as good as replicas. Where is Thomasson's outrage about the millions of children exposed to the toy armament industry in the United States? Why is he livid that a few hundred children peacefully played with tennis balls to prevent children in other countries from playing with real armaments made in this country?
As for our heresy of conducting this exercise on, of all days, Easter Monday, we (including many Christians and even a reverend) felt there is no better day of the year to bring this needed attention to cluster bomb war crimes carried out in our name.
Jesus did not come to Earth so American kids could push eggs around George Bush's lawn while wars raged around the planet. He came for peace and his resurrection was the triumph of life and love over death. These were the values taught across from the White House in our demonstration.
And that is what will happen around the world when the White House's occupant will ban these terrorist weapons. You can be sure that, as a father, I would have never thought up such an event if I had deemed it might harm any child (least of all my two daughters who attended).
No, far from that. We conducted this event to save children from our weapons _ even if they’re ``only’’ foreign children. People like Thomasson should focus their attention on companies like Lockheed Martin that make their bombs look like toys and toy-makers who make toys like arms. And finally on Christians who forget Christ's message on Easter .... and every other day.
Brian Hennessey is vice president of the Vineeta Foundation. For more stories visit scrippsnews.com.