The 9-11 anniversary has come and gone, and the deluge of mainstream media coverage has been, to say the least, disappointing. Alarming, even.
One could expect a swarm of attention 10 years after the 2001 terrorist attacks. It was a life-shattering, game-changing event.
But the nature of that coverage was gravely misfocused.
Between the human interest stories and the solemn memorials, the airwaves were mercilessly filled with repeated images of planes hitting buildings, and the mayhem that ensued.
It was uncalled for.
As The Telegram’s Russell Wangersky pointed out Tuesday, repeated images of ferry passengers drowning in the surf would shed little light on the causes and implications of the vessel’s sinking.
Even more disappointing were the shallow perspectives on how
9-11 affected others around the world, especially those living in the regions where the plot was hatched — and in one place the plot definitely wasn’t hatched: Iraq.
With few exceptions — such as CNN host Fareed Zakaria’s grilling of former war secretary Donald Rumsfeld — these elements were ignored.
Hundreds of thousands were killed in the years that followed
9-11, not only by western invaders but at the hands of those whose sole focus is to visit death upon all infidels.
Where were the prayers for these victims, whose fate was equally sealed by the deeds of 9-11 terrorists?
From the ashes of 9-11, the U.S. had an opportunity to foster greater global awareness. In that moment of worldwide sympathy, a fresh, multilateral approach was possible.
Instead, it squandered that moral capital.
Not long after the towers fell, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly had one of his famous meltdowns while interviewing the son of a victim.
Jeremy Glick tried to argue that U.S. foreign policy played a role in the attacks. O’Reilly told him to shut up, then cut his microphone and kicked him out of the studio.
Glick’s morality lesson was a little ill-timed. The horror was still fresh, the anger still palpable.
But 10 years later, little has changed.
Countless more lives have been lost, and the conditions that feed fanaticism still exist.
In the Baltimore Sun this past weekend, columnist Dan Rodricks highlighted how Americans remain blind to the impact the Iraq war had on the civilian population.
Three years after the war began, the White House estimated civilian casualties in Iraq at 35,000.
But an independent study out of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found the number of war-related deaths to be almost 20 times that number. That included those killed in sectarian violence during the post-invasion power vacuum.
Yet, few media outlets reported any numbers with regularity. Instead, such talk was usually greeted with anger and derision. (The American death toll, on the other hand, has been meticulously tallied.)
“We wanted revenge, and the Bush administration knew Americans would appreciate and support some old-fashioned frontier justice,” wrote Rodricks.
It’s a familiar story.
Consider the deadly bombing campaigns in Vietnam and Cambodia. And in the wake of the only other significant attack on American soil — Pearl Harbour — the U.S. unleashed a nuclear attack on Japan that killed, by conservative estimates, 225,000 people.
Author John Tirman addresses American indifference to collateral damage in his book “The Deaths of Others.” Rodricks cites him in his column.
“There is little evidence that the American public cares what happens to people who live where our interventions are conducted,” Tirman wrote.
Plus ça change …
Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s
commentary editor. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.