The killing of the U.S. consulate workers in Ciudad Juárez gave U.S. officials a chance to dust off some time worn language that gets evoked often in borderland issues--it was an "outrage."

This was how Obama was quoted in the AP story and elsewhere, for some reason the NYTimes did not run that quote. And outrage is all over the place. "President Felipe Calderon, Foreign Relations Secretary Patricia Espinosa and U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual flew together to Ciudad Juarez to express their outrage on Tuesday."

Not that these killings were anything but completely outrageous. They were insane, totally reprehensible and evil, especially given the proximity of infants and little children.

"The wife of one of the victims, a 13-year employee of the consulate named Hilda, described to a friend how she watched in horror as hit men pumped bullets into her SUV with her husband and children inside. She had been trailing her family in a second car when the attack occurred.

She leapt screaming from her car, begging the men to stop and telling them her children—ages 2, 4 and 7—were inside, the friend said. But they continued until her husband, Jorge Alberto Salcido, was covered in blood, slumped dead behind the steering wheel.

All three children in the car were treated for injuries and released—the older children grazed by bullets and the youngest hit by shards of glass, the friend said. His account differed from authorities who said two children were in the car. "

One of the consulate workers killed had the job of "helping U.S. citizens recover the remains of loved ones who had died in Mexico."

Nevertheless the official expressions of outrage can't be read unproblematically given the language of "outrage" that larded the relations since the 1870s at least. (Outrage so thoroughly lards the documents I even used the word for a chapter title.)

"Outrage" is usually used only to refer to specific acts affecting Americans. The same muderous acts, say by U.S.-taxpayer financed Blackwater security guards killing innocent Iraqi civilians for no reason (to pick an example out of the blue), are usually called "accidents" if even called anything before being dismissed from courts.

True outrage, or even the language of such outrage, has been pretty quiet despite the literal bloodbath going on on our border as a result of our insatiable desire for drugs and our decades-long failed interdiction strategy. Yes, the outrage is that the U.S. is the cause of the drug violence but cares not until something disgusting and tragic happens to Americans. But it is almost certain that by the end of the week there will be an equally horrible slaying that will make no ripples in the public consciousness.

These killings are as twisted as every other killing in Juárez, which is out of control. 500 killings so far this year, and it is mid-March. Maybe now that Homeland Security has pulled the plug on the border wall and there is this explosion of states rights movements across the country some sanity will creep into the 'drug war" and undercut the whole reason for the slaughter going on.

P.S. That American consulate in Juárez is a really inviting looking place, isn't it:


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