Celebratory gunfire in a war zone.
"Iraqis interviewed by Associated Press Television said revelers had fired volleys of gunfire into the air in a traditional wedding celebration just before the American attack.
"American troops have mistaken celebratory gunfire for hostile fire at least once before. In July 2002, officials in Afghanistan said that at least 48 civilians at a wedding party were killed and 117 wounded by an American airstrike in the province of Oruzgan."
—New York Times, May 20, 2004.
At the wedding feast in Cana, Mary told Jesus, "They have no wine." I can’t imagine her saying, "They’re running out of ammo."
It’s not at all funny when people die by violence in the midst of a celebration. We grieve for them and for their loved ones left behind; we grieve for the doomed wedding, and hope for the bride and groom that their ensuing marriage is not ruined by the horrible memories that attach to their wedding day.
On the other hand, while it isn’t funny at all, it is somewhat absurd to offer as an explanation, "We were just having fun, shooting our weapons into the air in a war zone. Why should anyone feel threatened by that?" I think it’s permissible to point out that firing weapons for fun, especially when hostile forces are occupying your country, is a really dumb explanation for equally dumb behavior.
As of now, Monday morning May 24, Good Morning, America is clucking its collective tongue about "yet another American public relations disaster," and American spokesmen are disputing the charge that our forces attacked a wedding party. I’ll leave the investigation of that charge to reporters on the ground. Military investigators will no doubt conclude that Our Brave Boys are Not at Fault. They will be right, if "celebratory gunfire" is the best explanation the Iraqis offer. I’ve never been in battle, but if I ever fired my weapon in a war zone, I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody fired back.
Another absurdity. Those weapons and their ammunition are expensive by any standard, even wholesale, and a short blast from one of them means ten bucks down the tube. We are constantly being told how poor the Iraqis are, so how can they afford it? Are bullets part of the wedding budget, as a substitute for booze?
If the explanation offered by the Iraqis is true, I’m still not justified in seeing myself as a wise, mature American. Graduation weekend is coming up here in the Midwest, where for decades teenagers have celebrated leaving high school with illegal and extravagant drunken parties, followed by the death of one or more classmates on the highway home. Hey, it’s a tradition!
But back in the days when Jesus provided wine at a wedding feast, there were no SUV’s driving the guests home from the party, nor were submachine guns available to enhance the celebration.