Saturday, September 23, 2006
The national media has made light of the death toll of American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq recently surpassing the number of deaths that occurred in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. My question is why? Why is that a story? Why does that matter? Is the media trying to tell us that somehow this means these military actions are more of a failure or all these young men and women dying more of a tragedy?
Whether they are or not is not the issue. The issue is that this is exactly what it looks like the media is doing. Motives mean little in this area. Whether it is shortsighted and irresponsibly journalism or an elaborate plot does not matter. The media should be going out of its way to avoid even the appearance of spinning military death tolls for political gain. I can understand addressing the milestones (for lack of a better word) of one thousand dead or two thousand dead, but 2,974 is not a story.
Before you accuse me of defending the second gulf war or the Bush Administration, I want to make it clear I'm not a big fan of either. Anyone who knows me would tell you that. 2,973 terrorist attack deaths in one day is a tragedy and 2,974 military conflict deaths over five years is a tragedy, but these numbers miss the greater point. I find it disrespectful to simply reduce the men and women who died on 9/11 and the American soldiers who died giving what Abraham Lincoln said was the "last full measure of devotion" to parts of a simple math problem--2,974>2,973.
Too often we forget the dead soldiers, the victims of 9/11, and their families. However, the greater wrong is that when we are reminded of them and their sacrifice it is often for the wrong reasons.