Monday, May 7, 2007

Invisible Deaths?

I’m still puzzled by the U.S. news media’s smokescreen over the deaths of American troops in Iraq. In the past 24 hours eight U.S. soldiers were killed, six by a single bomb. That is a lot of deaths, and a very dramatic addition to the recent escalations in group military deaths. It is also a lot of bad news for the Bush administration and the members of Congress who are wiggle waggling over taking real action to end the war as mandated in the November elections. Yet not one of the wire services I follow online -- New York Times, MSNBC, AP, USAToday – or any of the headlines prominently displayed on Google News – mentioned those U.S. deaths this morning. I learned about them by skimming reports under headlines on the deaths of Iraqis, and then reading paragraphs two or three or four. I’m willing to predict that the eight (or possibly more by tonight) military deaths will also get sparse coverage on the evening television news.

We have to assume that the downplaying of military deaths is to the advantage of those Americans who support the war and consider bad news unpatriotic. Is part of “supporting our troops” not only paying the costs of getting them killed but also hiding the fact that they are getting killed? Why not report big news as big news? For one thing, we know that it is not to the advantage of a news service to alienate Congress and the administration. For another, we can be sure that the reporting of U.S. deaths brings a storm of complaints from the Unintelligent Majority.

The worst underlying general assumption in all of this is that war and support of war are patriotic, and that patriotism is not only a virtue but a virtue worth killing and dying for. This mindless human attitude is not so much a form of species-wide insanity as an evolutionary product of the hairless ape’s insatiable lust for fighting and killing, demonstrated from its earliest times. Group cohesion is necessary to survival, but in the case of humans it has taken a bizarre, proudly murderous twist which will not only breed continual war but also an early end to the species as a whole.


Daniel said...

Funny you should say that. I just wrote a post on a similar theme!

Keep up the good work.

Fleming said...

Daniel, thanks for pointing out your own post, which I just read with great appreciation.

(In case you don't know, I find that I cannot access your Profile, and so cannot access your blog, by clicking on your name.)