May 12, 2005
How many dead? Never mind, "American Idol's on"
My days begin early, at 5 a.m., even on weekends. Very strong coffee set to brewing, first of two morning papers bought in, television turned to CNN's American Morning. Lately, another routine seems to have been added: Arriving in the middle of the latest Iraq death toll from roadside and suicide bombs 69 Wednesday, another 24 today.
Over the last two weeks, insurgents have killed more than 400 people and the rate at which the attacks have been going, scores a day, that toll might easily reach beyond 500 by the weekend. Iraqi civilian casualties haven't been talked of much until this recent spate of bombing. The full toll of ordinary Iraqis killed since the U.S. invaded Iraq in March 2003 has been estimated at between 6,000 and nearly 100,000, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Coverage of the daily bombings has been unrelenting, but less well covered has been the mounting toll of American military forces. As of today (Thursday, May 12), 1,613 have died since the start of the war, according to The Associated Press, 1,475 since the end of major combat was declared by President Bush in May 2003. The U.S. death rate so far this year has been 283, which means the mounting casualty rate is on track to top 2,000 by year's end.
In addition, another 176 coalition troops have been killed. And, according to the Iraq Coalition Casualties Web site, 234 civilian contractors have died. Coupled with U.S. military deaths, deaths from the war have topped 2,000 and that doesn't count other civilians like Nick Berg who was kidnapped and beheaded about the time the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison were revealed.
It makes me wonder if the American public is taking for granted those killed in the unnecessary war in Iraq. No, not the Americans who have lost loved ones, but the rest of us, especially politicians in Congress and the Bush administration. Whether demand drives the media or media drive the demand, people have been fed and look to be fed a diet of pure pap: Michael Jackson's molestation trial, Texas trying to clamp down on what some lawmakers call cheerleading routines too-sexually suggestive, trying to uncover the real details why Jennifer Wilbanks, of George, faked a story of abduction and sexual assault several days before her wedding and which young entertainer who wants stardom handed on a plate rather than earning it will become the next American idol.
If people in this nation and that especially means those who placed our troops in harm's way for false and misleading reasons truly cared about the hardships our troops are enduring in Iraq, about the devotion to duty these troops unselfishly give, about the mounting death toll among all who fight and live in Iraq, they wouldn't be elevating debate over the filibuster to the level of constitutional crisis; they wouldn't have been massing in Florida, turning a woman who most likely should have died a decade ago into a political football for selfish partisan gains; they wouldn't be so worried about Janet Jackson's breast, naughty words spoken in "Saving Private Ryan" and whether Howard Stern says the word "ass" or just makes himself out to be one. They would be demanding this government and those who started this war do what is necessary to bring the war to its speediest conclusion. As it is, indications are this war will likely last at least another two years.
By the same token, media outlets would be keeping the faces of war in the forefront. Television news outlets would show the daily toll the war in Iraq is taking on American troops and Iraqi civilians with a box ever-present on the screen. And newspapers would be doing the same with a box prominently displayed on the front page.