Bad craziness

From Andrew Sullivan

There is so much we don’t yet know about the Virginia Tech massacre, so much that keeps changing, so much to be angry about, and to be terribly sad about, that catching up, let alone opining, seems simply inappropriate. I know it’s my job, but blogging breaking news like this is something I don’t want to do.

Slaughters like this happen every day in Iraq. For the traumatized family and friends of those killed both here and there, may they have someone who can pick them up and carry them when they think they can’t go on.


  1. To give some sense of the Iraqi disaster, let’s try translating this tragedy into numbers.

    The Iraqis have these many dead by similar means each day (actually more, but we’ll get there). Using the raw numbers of 33 dead, and extrapolating it out to a year, I get just over 12,000 deaths, almost 4 times the number of deaths from 9/11/2001. (For those of us who witnessed the Pinochet years in Chile, 9/11 has a rather different meaning, since it was the day of the coup that overthrew the Allende government.)

    That calculation, horrifying as it is, is incomplete because (1) the number is less than the Iraqis lose each day, and (2) there is no correction for the different population sizes of the two countries.

    The US has just over 300 million people; Iraq at its best has 25 million (probably less due to the unreported out-migration of the middle-class and those who can afford it, but lets give the Bushies every numerical benefit of the doubt). That’s a 12:1 difference in population, so the violent deaths would have to be increased to 144,000 per year to get a comparable figure. That’s a lotta deaths by violence; does anybody have a figure on the yearly homicides in the US?

    Even that figure understates the deaths, since 33 is much lower than the average deaths in Iraq that get reported. My impression is that the average is about 63-67 per day, but let’s call it 50, again, so that we can understate the horror. This reduction does nothing to understate it, however, since it increases the yearly number of deaths to 219,000. Could America survive such a wave of killings? It certainly places the resiliency of the poor Iraqis in perspective.

  2. According to a Justice Department table, homocides in the U.S. in 2004 totalled 16,137 (5.5 per 100,000), down from a high of 24,704 in 1991 and a high rate of 10.2 in 1980. For comparison, Joe’s numbers suggest a rate of 876 per 100,000 in Iraq.

    Could the U.S. survive such a rate? It depends on what you consider survival. Has Iraq survived such a rate?

    Also consider that during the Civil War, the U.S. incurred an average casualty rate of 500 casualties per 100,000 of population over the course of the war, by far our deadliest war. But that was pirmarily combatants; the Civil War did not produce civilian casualties in the numbers that post-modern warfare does.

  3. As offended as I am ‘ore all that now goes on, I’m having a hard time caring.

  4. […] the Bad Craziness post here on the Virginia Tech slaughter mentioned that 33 dead happens every day in Iraq. This sparked […]

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