Friday, April 20, 2007

Planet Media

[posted by Callimachus]

Count me among the people revolted by certain other people whose reaction to the Virginia Tech shooting included, in the first half hour, the need to write, "but what we're doing to Iraq is much worse. Look! 200 dead there!"

I didn't find a single post or comment thread from the center to the far left that failed to go there in an hour or less. It hardly was a case of "forgotten Iraq".

Is it right to compare Iraq and Virginia Tech? Perhaps not. But the juxtaposition — and specifically the juxtaposition of media coverage — is nonetheless deeply troubling. (This is Marsh’s point.) There has been so much concentrated coverage of what happened in Virginia (and, to an extent, rightly so), but there has been, overall, gross indifference to what is happening in Iraq each and every day. It takes a massive death toll for Iraqi violence to register — like today’s, but, even then, nothing like there should be. And not just Iraqi violence. Stuck in perpetual therapy, Americans don’t want to know much about anywhere else, either.

The last sentence is the only one I fully agree with. Only because it's the four fingers that point back at the pointer when you point your finger at someone else.

Look: Remember all those mass graves dug up all over Iraq in the years since 2003? Each a field in the sand holding grease smears and bones (and in some cases rotted hijabs and baby dolls) that used to be people. From a few dozen to a few hundred. Well, maybe you don't remember them if you read only anti-war sites, unless they brought them up in the context of blaming it all on Rumsfeld's handshake.

Each of those represents an event. There was a day when the sun came up and Saddam's killers marched those people out to that place and mowed them down with gunfire.

And the next day, there was nothing about it in your newspaper. Nor on CNN. Nor on PBS. Nor in "The Nation" or "Newsweek." Al-Jazeera's camera crews were not there.

And are you unwilling to beieve that, on this certain Monday in April, in Myanmar or Cuba or Colombia or Waziristan or the West Bank, a government or a rogue militia or a fundamentalist cult didn't line up and shoot down dozens of people for no reason discoverable to human justice? But you'll never know their names. Their stories.

Where do you live? On Planet Earth or in Planet Media? Where do you fucking live?

So what are you reacting to? What drives your emotional state? The world? Or the media?

Because, believe it or not, there is a difference.