It’s not brain surgery

I’ve often drawn attention to the biomedical and surgical metaphors that have become commonplace in attempts to sanitise and legitimise later modern war.  Reading Stephen Zunes‘s chillingly helpful commentary, ‘Republican candidates defend killing civilians to fight terrorism—and so do Democrats’, I stumbled across this exchange between Hugh Hewitt and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who compares his own surgical skills to bombing (from the recent Republican Party ‘debate’ on 15 December 2015:

HUGH HEWITT: We’re talking about ruthless things tonight — carpet bombing, toughness, war. And people wonder, could you do that? Could you order air strikes that would kill innocent children by not the scores, but the hundreds and the thousands?

BEN CARSON: … have to be able to look at the big picture and understand that it’s actually merciful if you go ahead and finish the job, rather than death by 1,000 pricks.

HEWITT: So you are OK with the deaths of thousands of innocent children and civilian? It’s like…

CARSON: You got it. You got it.

A pity he didn’t stick to his day job.

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