War Deaths Equal to 9/11 Casualties: Press Hits a Milestone

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Sep 22, 2006 10:34 PM

Can anyone guess how long this story's been in the can? It just showed up in my e-mail. It reminds me of when I worked at the paper. Jesse Helms' and Strom Thurmond's obituaries were always sitting on the wire, just waiting to be used, updated with their latest health status and awards.

Utilitarian, yes, but a little morbid, and I couldn't help but think they'd be less eagerly updated had they been venerable, liberal Senators' obituarties. But who knows? I reckon there's a Robert Byrd obituary floating around out there, too. It'll just be published with a lot less relish than the Thurmond one was.

Now this story? They were counting down the minutes on this one.

The lead on this is just so emotionally exploitative:

Now the death toll is 9/11 times two. U.S. military deaths from Iraq and Afghanistan now surpass those of the most devastating terrorist attack in America's history, the trigger for what came next.

The latest milestone for a country at war came Friday without commemoration. It came without the precision of knowing who was the 2,974th to die in conflict. The terrorist attacks killed 2,973 victims in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

9/11 times two. Let us not even intimate that there is a qualitative difference between losing volunteer warriors in a battle brought upon us by terrorists and losing civilians in an unprovoked attack they never signed up to face. Let us not intimate that it's taken us five years of fighting to reach the same total of casualties caused in one day by 19 evil Islamofascists with box cutters and a will to kill. Let us not intimate that of the men and women fighting this war, many believed in the cause much more than the reporters covering them ever did, and they lost their lives giving millions a right to speak and a right to vote in a country where neither had been possible for 35 years.

Nah, it's just 9/11 times two. Just another tragedy. The numbers are the same, the loss is the same. The media will tell you the loss is just as senseless as 9/11. It is not. Those lives were stolen. The lives in Afghanistan and Iraq were given, and God bless each and every one of them.

Now, writing these lines requires a phenomenal lack of self-awareness from the press:

Despite a death toll that pales next to that of the great wars, one casualty milestone after another has been observed and reflected upon this time, especially in Iraq.

There was the benchmark of seeing more U.S. troops die in the occupation than in the swift and successful invasion. And the benchmarks of 1,000 dead, 2,000, 2,500.

Now this.

God bless each and every one of them, and not just because they are a reason for another "milestone" story and an open thread of Bush hate at Kos or DU. But because they are heroes.