Brian Glanz » War More Perceived, War More Real

This Brian Glanz is a social entrepreneur in Seattle, as on Twitter, Flickr, LibraryThing, Seattle Net Tuesday, Slashdot, Defend Science, MSNBC,, et al.

War More Perceived, War More Real

The Count of American Iraq War Dead and Injured by Ron Richardson, as at West Seattle BlogRon Richardson of Seattle keeps counts of American war dead and injured in Iraq on a hand-written sign in his yard. As the count of U.S. Iraq war dead reached 4,000 in March 2008, the sign, Ron Richardson, the count, and the war all received more attention. Mike Lewis at the Seattle P-I picked up the story for Under The Needle, and West Seattle Blog noted the sign several times.

My first reaction was: we should be counting dead and injured people, not only dead and injured Americans.

The point of increasing our perception of war in this simple, everyday way is to make it more real. A spike in media attention for this sign and for the war will remind many of the war in Iraq, making it a little bit more real. For those who pass by Ron Richardson’s sign often, the small but repeated reminder makes the war still more real. The sign does not let them forget the war, and for that Richardson is to be commended. Richardson is a retired history teacher who himself served in the military; we are grateful for his shared wisdom.

Yet we also must not forget: Americans are not the only people being killed and injured in Iraq. Many thousands of innocent people have died, whether innocent Iraqis who are nobody’s enemy, innocent Americans who were not there to fight, or anyone from anywhere caught in the crossfire. Many innocent people have been killed by our enemies, but many innocent people have died due to mistakes made and crimes committed by Americans, too.

Even if we counted both American and innocent casualties, though, we would still not make real the whole human tragedy of war. Those who we call our enemies are not less human than we are. Our enemies, too, should be counted. Consider:

1) Who are America’s enemies in Iraq?

2) Who among our enemies is so threatening that we need to kill them, and who could we instead arrest and prosecute, or negotiate with politically, financially, or otherwise?

In much of the fighting, the answers to these simple questions have been unclear.

Tens of thousands are dead and hundreds of thousands are injured — those are the human numbers, not the American numbers. Exact numbers are controversial and even the Pentagon will avoid releasing their opinion on what the exact numbers are, but we cannot let details obscure the scale of this tragedy. Popular American media and Ron Richardson’s sign have recently featured the number 4,000 — but the real number is much larger, and more terrible.

The reasons for so much killing and injuring, like the scale of it all, are also easy to forget and important to repeat: Americans are being killed and injured because we are fighting a war that we started. Most Americans now think we should never have started this war. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Saddam Hussein posed no threat to us. It was out of our own fear, and our inability to collect or properly interpret what they call “intelligence,” that we began this war.

It should be soul-shaking to reflect on this and any war. Counting American casualties does make war a little more real, but counting only American casualties is a lie of omission. We must not pretend that only Americans suffer when America fights a war.

If humankind was mindful of the reality of war, there would be no more war. Counting only American casualties is less than the whole truth of the horror and the history we are making. To keep it real, we must know the whole human tragedy of war.

This page was published on Monday, March 31st, 2008 and is filed under Civil Society, Seattle. Follow comments on this page through its RSS feed. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

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Upcoming @ Pacific Science Center?

Joey Mornin, @joemornin on Twitter and a research assistant at the Berkman Center, had tweeted “I have seen the future, and it is a Carl Sagan/Stephen Hawking remix …” (11:24 AM Oct 2nd from TweetDeck). That I had to see, and when I saw it I had to tweet: “This Carl Sagan Stephen Hawking remix … should play on a wall @PacSci :) via @joeymornin” (11:35 AM Oct 2nd from Google Wave (Tweety)).

Pacific Science Center, @PacSci on Twitter, understands social media. As every person, business, or organization using social media ought to be, in a word they are: social. When I mention @PacSci, they watch for it and in this case their response was: “RT @brianglanz: This Carl Sagan Stephen Hawking remix … should play on a wall @PacSci :) via @joeymornin <GLORIOUS!>” (11:43 AM Oct 2nd from Seesmic). They responded quickly, giving credit to Joey Mornin and me, and added their own comment, <GLORIOUS!> — all in 140 characters. <yoda>Impressive!</yoda>

Will the “A Glorious Dawn” remix actually appear at the Pacific Science Center? Whether on a wall, at a kiosk, or on screen before IMAX films I do think this sort of “citizen media” should be displayed alongside “citizen science” in our educational and cultural institutions. This video accentuates and amplifies important parts of the messages Sagan, Hawking, and science at large have to share. In an incomplete circle, science has made possible the technology, has made possible the culture, has made possible great grassroots work like this media; science needs to close the circle and better connect with the community.

Quintin Doroquez, @quintind on Twitter chimed in, too by tweeting “@brianglanz That was brilliant!” (11:57 AM Oct 2nd from Tweetie) and I could not agree more. Thanks and congratulations to the creator of “A Glorious Dawn,” John Boswell, melodysheep on YouTube, whose video has a perfect 5 out of 5 stars after thousands of ratings and more than 600,000 views in its first two weeks.

还原真相:To Restore The Truth


Twenty years ago on June 4, 1989, thousands of pro-democracy protesters — most of them students — were killed by the Chinese government where they gathered peacefully, in Tiananmen Square.

Seattle’s Ken Judd en Montage

Update: you are seeing this message if MySpace took the video down, again; I have it coded to show if the video cannot. The audio is out of copyright due to its age, but regularly trips MySpace automatic filters. I have had it unbanned twice by people, only to be re-banned. Alas! It is a montage from my photos of the works of Seattle’s Ken Judd.

I may remaster the video — publish a higher resolution, remove the birthday reference, add a new opening and closing, etc. Generally, this is a test of displaying video on while it is hosted here by MySpace.

Remember 2009? Google Wave was 'it', good for everything from Pulitzer Prize winning journalism to Open Science Notebooks. 2009 was also the last time I updated this web site, to which you are more than welcome with that in mind.

Also 'it' in 2009, but where you can still find me: Twitter of course. I'm @brianglanz and for more about my work, see @openscience.

You can also circle me in Google+, and since that's a more thorough effort all around by the Big G, we have taken to it -- there you could also +1 and circle our Open Science Federation Page or join our new Open Science Community.