Geography and Justice

He was not famous. He never invented anything. He never created a great work of art. He never composed a symphony. But there was something special about him. He had lived a life of moral perfection. He never told a lie. Never disappointed a friend. Never disrespected his parents.

On March 21, 2013, while sleeping in his stroller, someone fired a bullet into his head. In an instant Antonio Santiago was dead…just six weeks after his first birthday. One more dead child in America’s war with itself. Another dead baby in a nation that celebrates violence.

Every human being has equal value, but somehow it seems different when it is a child who is murdered. Maybe it is the absolute innocence of children that makes any harm to them so extremely painful to all of us.

But wait a minute – the USA has an official policy of killing children with Drones. This happens on a regular basis. Then we claim it was an accident – an unintended consequence – collateral damage. The claim is that this war on everyone, everywhere is justified because on 9/11 the US was a victim. Maybe as the Trial of the accused murderer of Antonio gets underway, the Defense can use that same strategy. Will the Defense claim that the shooter was a victim. He had a hard life. Bad things happened to him. The fact is that he did grow up in a culture saturated in violence.

De’Marquise Elkins has been charged with the murder. The Trial will take place in Cobb County Court in Marietta, Georgia. Superior Court Judge Stephen Kelley presides. Elkins will not face the death penalty, because at the time of the crime he was only 17. If convicted, he could be sentenced to Life in prison.

In this case there is no silver lining. There is nothing of redeeming value. Nothing that can sooth the anguish. Even if the accused is guilty and even if the jury convicts the accused, that does not compensate for the loss.

But wait another minute…when the US kills those in other countries with Drones, a few thousand dollars of compensation is sometimes given to the family. If that is Justice, maybe the accused should offer monetary compensation to the family of Antonio. Justice served? Most in the US would not find that acceptable, so why is it an acceptable US policy? Why do we accept the killing of children in other countries? Are their lives less precious?

The killer of Antonio is no more innocent and no more guilty than those who kill unarmed civilians in other countries. US citizens who support and enable the Drone killings are every bit as guilty as whoever murdered Antonio Santiago. That includes voters, taxpayers, and those who design, manufacture, and operate the Drones.

Justice should not be doled out by geography. The Drone killings in Afghanistan are crying out for Justice. Murder is murder.

Rosemarie Jackowski is an advocacy journalist living in Vermont. Read other articles by Rosemarie.