Iraq, the Media, and Shannon’s Dad by Andrew Meyer
September 19, 2007
We hear it on the news almost everyday.
“At least 18 people were killed when two car bombs exploded in a busy market…”
It happens so frequently at this point that we have become desensitized to the message.
“Eleven more died when a minibus blew up in the Karrada district, while a suicide attack…”
Iraq is thousands of miles away from the United States. When a suicide bomber strikes in the middle of a crowded Baghdad street, leaving mayhem and carnage in his wake, America is largely unaffected. The only thing we hear in the States is the same tired story. Yeah, yeah, suicide bomber, 20-something dead, we’ve heard this one before. But in Baghdad, no one is “over” these attacks. Every new bombing is a deadly and frightening jolt, a senseless thunderbolt of destruction bringing the city to its knees and death to its inhabitants. Yet we in America are so far removed from Iraq, so jaded to the tales of violence in its streets, perhaps the only time we truly feel the human cost of the War in Iraq is when it hits close to home.
Shannon Timmann is a friend of mine. On January 7, 2006, her father was killed outside of Mosul, the biggest city in northern Iraq. He was in one of two Black Hawk helicopters that lost contact with base. “Human error in a storm,” they called it. They don’t know what happened. The helicopters just went down. They just crashed.
In exchange for the life of her husband, Shannon’s mom received this letter from the government:
“Dear Mrs. Timmann:
I extend my heartfelt condolences on the death of your husband. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I am grateful for Robert’s service to our nation and to the Department of State. His dedication and bravery should serve as an example to us all.
Nice words from our Secretary of State. But that is all they are. Words. Nothing can bring back Shannon’s father, nor the 3,566 other Americans who have died in Iraq to date.
I asked Shannon what she thought of the letter sent from our government. She said it was nice, but, “I mean ….but how many of those do they send a week? It’s just copy.”
Shannon had another letter, sent to her from the Iraqi chief of police. It was heartfelt, and genuinely saddened for the loss that Shannon and the world would feel from Bob’s death.
I watched a video that Bob Timmann filmed in Iraq before he died. He was a good man, and he believed that America was doing good work in Iraq. But what exactly are we accomplishing over there? America invaded Iraq on false pretenses, bogus intelligence that Saddam had WMDs and links to al-Qaeda.
When Cho Seung-Hui killed 32 people on the Virginia Tech campus, it was like a knee to the stomach of Americans across the country. It was the only story on the news for days, and everyone felt affected, whether they had family or friends at Virginia Tech or not.
If 32 Americans died in a bombing in Iraq today, would the media give the story the full-court press that Virginia Tech got? Would every kid on facebook change his or her picture to a ribbon with the message “We support our troops”?
The story would get lumped in with every other Iraq story, mentioned for a day, and then swept under the rug and forgotten.
Virginia Tech was a tragedy, but you can see that death toll almost everyday in Iraq. And for what? For democracy in Iraq? As if anyone in the U.S. government really cares about the Iraqi people? We are there to make money for Vice President Cheney’s corporation, Halliburton. We are there for oil. When insurgents or terrorists or whatever you want to call them blow something up in Iraq, and kill Americans, its not big news – for a reason. The powers that be do not want a true audit of the War in Iraq, and the cowed American media is more than happy to accommodate them. More than anything, the mainstream media is part of the problem. Now here’s a real tragedy – what it takes to get play in the mainstream media. Billions of dollars are missing from the department of defense, eight U.S. attorney generals were fired in an unprecedented political coup, and the biggest news stories of the year are Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith.
It’s enough to make you think about what the real goal of the news is. Is it to keep the populace as educated and up-to-date on America and world affairs as possible, or is the news like any other business, with the chief goal to make money. The news is designed to keep viewers watching and sedated and not thinking bad thoughts about America, because that would be bad for the economy. Stories about a severely unbalanced budget are out, train wrecks like Paris and Anna are in. A train wreck may be senseless and pointless, but Americans sure do love to watch.
Is it “news” when a toddler accidentally drowns in Lake Michigan? It’s a tragedy, to be sure, but does it affect the world as much as, say, the decisions of the U.S. Federal Reserve, which drastically affects the value of money? The news is a crock of spit, mostly of the bull variety. People need to stop assaulting their brains with garbage, and start educating themselves with books.
If you truly want knowledge on the world around you, try picking up a book. The great thing about books? They have authors who have to do months of research, and actually know exactly what they are talking about. (Unless the author is Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity, in which case they can say whatever they want because their audience is a bunch of self-deluded ignoramuses who want to be told what they think they already know.)
Do you care about what’s going on in Iraq? Do you want to know the truth? Start reading. Just now, I typed “Iraq Book” into google and found this: Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn’t Tell You. Without even reading this book, I can all but guarantee you that this book has more information than every news story NBC, ABC, and CBS did in 2003, when invading Iraq was still up for debate.
“Deftly separating truth from propaganda, Target Iraq is a hard-hitting expose of the harsh realities and consequences of the pending war and the media’s failure to present the full spectrum of issues to the public.”
Why wasn’t this stuff on the news? It isn’t necessarily corporate malfeasance hiding facts. Maybe they just think critical reasoning and big words and knowledge will drive away viewers. Whatever the case, the war in Iraq is still going on, and most of America still doesn’t know why we went there in the first place, or what we’re doing now to get out.
Americans might not care, like when they hear about “just another bombing” in Baghdad, but I’ll bet you a Prius that if Iraq was negatively affecting the price of gas, people would start to give a damn. Maybe they’ll care next time around, when Bush starts talking about “consequences” for Iran. You know, one of two “Axis of Evil” countries that actually has nukes? The one that’s secretly funding the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip? Maybe Iran should start getting some attention. If only they were run by a millionaire debutante famous for nipple slips and a sex tape. Then they might even be news-worthy.
Source: The Andrew Meyer