Anarchy is in the eye of the beholder

You only have to turn on the news, open the pages or the New York Times or attend an urban rally to know that Iraq is Hell on earth , comparable only to the Sudan or Rwanda. This is so because Iraq, which used to be such a peaceful place under Saddam Hussein, fell under George Bush's evil control In fact, as everyone knows, numbers lie — or, at least, liars use numbesr for their own ends. Victor Davis Hanson (happily recovered from a ruptured appendix that hit in Libya) makes this point by comparing Iraq and the Golden State of California:

War-torn Iraq has about 26 million residents, a peaceful California perhaps now 35 million. The former is a violent and impoverished landscape, the latter said to be paradise on Earth. But how you envision either place to some degree depends on the eye of the beholder, and is predicated on what the daily media appear to make of each.

As a fifth-generation Californian, I deeply love this state, but still imagine what the reaction would be if the world awoke each morning to be told that once again there were six more murders, 27 rapes, 38 arsons, 180 robberies, and 360 instances of assault in California—yesterday, today, tomorrow, and every day. I wonder if the headlines would scream about “Nearly 200 poor Califor­nians butchered again this month!”

How about a monthly media dose of “600 women raped in February alone!” Or try, “Over 600 violent robberies and assaults in March, with no end in sight!” Those do not even make up all of the state’s yearly 200,000 violent acts that law enforcement knows about.

Iraq’s judicial system seems a mess. On the eve of the war, Saddam let out 100,000 inmates from his vast prison archipelago. He himself still sits in the dock months after his trial began. But imagine an Iraq with a penal system like California’s with 170,000 criminals—an inmate population larger than those of Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Singapore combined.

Just to house such a shadow popula­tion costs our state nearly $7 billion a year—or about the same price of keep­ing 40,000 Army personnel per year in Iraq. What would be the image of our Golden State if we were reminded each morning, “Another $20 million spent today on housing our criminals!”

Some of California’s most recent prison scandals would be easy to sensa­tionalize: “Guards watch as inmates are raped!” Or “Correction officer accused of having sex with underaged detainee!” And apropos of Saddam’s sluggish trial, remember that our home state multiple murderer, Tookie Williams, was finally executed in December 2005—26 years after he was originally sentenced.

Much is made of the inability to patrol Iraq’s borders with Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey. But California has only a single border with a foreign nation, not six. Yet over 3 million foreigners who snuck in illegally now live in our state. Worse, there are about 15,000 convicted alien felons incarcerated in our penal system, cost­ing about $500 million a year. Imagine the potential tabloid headlines: “Illegal aliens in state comprise population larger than San Francisco!” or “Drugs, criminals, and smugglers given free pass into California!”

Every year, over 4,000 Californians die in car crashes—nearly twice the number of Americans lost so far in three years of combat operations in Iraq. In some sense, then, our badly maintained roads, and often poorly trained and sometimes intoxicated drivers, are even more lethal than Improvised Explosive Devices. Perhaps tomorrow’s headline might scream out at us: “300 Califor­nians to perish this month on state highways! Hundreds more will be maimed and crippled!”

And that's only the half of it. You should definitely read the whole thing.

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  • http://ymarsakar.blogspot.com/ Ymarsakar

    Iraq’s a rusty blade. But its steel is of a higher carbon content than California’s.