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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Mourning Michael Jackson, Ignoring the Afghan Dead

You'd have to make a desperate effort not to know that Michael Jackson (until recently excoriated by the media) had died, and you'd have to make a similarly desperate effort to know that we've knocked off one wedding party after another these last years in Afghanistan. One of these deaths – Jackson's – really has little to do with us; the others are, or should be, our responsibility, part of an endless war the American people have either supported or not stopped from continuing. And yet one is a screaming global headline; the others go unnoticed.

You'd think there might, in fact, be room for a small headline somewhere. Didn't those brides, grooms, relatives, and revelers deserve at least one modest, collective corner of some front-page or a story on some prime-time news show in return for their needless suffering? You'd think that some president or high official in Washington might have sent a note of condolence to someone, that there might have been a rising tide of criticism about the slow response here in expressing regrets to the families of Afghans who died under our bombs and missiles.

Here's the truth of it, though: When it comes to Afghan lives – especially if we think, correctly or not, that our safety is involved – it doesn't matter whether five wedding parties or 50 go down, two funerals or 25. Our media isn't about to focus real attention on the particular form of barbarity involved – the American air war over Afghanistan which has been a war of and for, not on, terror.
-- from "Are Afghan Lives Worth Anything?" by Tom Engelhardt


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