Thursday, July 14, 2005

"Digitized extras in a Hollywood epic"

James Wolcott in Vanity Fair:
But of the liberated, occupied, afflicted, battered-to-despair Iraqi people, Americans see and hear and, worst of all, care almost nothing. The Iraqis might as well be digitized extras in a Hollywood epic, scurrying in the wide-screen background and being massacred en masse as some tanned specimen of all-American man-steak is heroically positioned in the foreground, giving orders to the lesser-paid stars in his squad as if he had just teleported in from the Battle of Thermopylae. Apart from an occasional dispatch (such as a CNN report on May 13), the ongoing agony of the Iraqi people is the huge, tragic unmentionable in the televised war coverage. Sydney Schanberg again: "Can you recall the last time your hometown newspaper ran a picture spread of these human beings lying crumpled at the scene of the slaughter?" It doesn't seem to dawn on our pundits and leaders that when two dozen Iraqi police recruits are murdered by a car bomb it sends a shock wave through entire communities, leaving untold grieving widows, parents, siblings, children, friends, and co-workers behind to nurse their pain and rage. Imagine the impact it would have if 50 police or army recruits were wiped out over the course of a week in this country. Now imagine 50 dying every single week with no relief in sight and tell me the U.S. wouldn't be suffering a national nervous breakdown. But the Iraqi dead are discounted as the Price of Democracy. If Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice harbored any semblance of shame beneath their aluminum-foil Vulcan armor, they would fall to their knees to express sorrow and beg forgiveness from the Iraqi people, even though Cheney might need help rising to his feet again. But of course they never will. They will continue to brazen it out, abetted by a milquetoast Mr. Media.

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