chiming in on the virginia tech issue...
yes, i know i'm a little late on this, but a conversation with my friend kelly the other day got me thinking...
did you guys know that only two days after the tragic shooting spree at virginia tech, five bombings in baghdad killed about 170 people??? i sure as hell didn't know until my conversation with kelly, and she didn't know until a friend of hers who lives in europe pointed it out to her.
i have two primary and related thoughts about this. you may not like what i'm saying in this post. but i'm okay with that.
1. is the american news media so sensationalist that it becomes consumed and obsessed with mass tragedy when it happens on US soil?
2. are we so desensitized to violence in the middle east that we no longer consider it violent?
forgive the geek reference, but the american news machine is like the eye of sauron -- it's incapable of focusing on more than one thing. as soon as something awful happens on home turf, any other bad stuff that happens elsewhere no longer matters. and the media circus moves at breakneck speed to broadcast every single detail -- public and private -- about the lives involved. it's like those gaudy human-interest segments of the olympics -- a hundred million media hands grasping for the heartstrings of the folks huddled around their television sets. why? what purpose does this serve?
lots of things happened that week -- the senate judiciary committee made mincemeat of alberto gonzales, for example. is this less newsworthy than the virginia tech massacre? oh, and the supreme court upheld a late-term abortion ban in gonzales v. carhart. are the ramifications of this not enough to stop the presses???
the sad thing is that i just listed the significant stories, the ones that did make the news alongside the coverage of virginia tech. but the number of stories and articles and soundbytes devoted to seung-hui cho's mental state and his "multimedia manifesto" seemed to far outweigh any other current event of the time.
america is not immortal. america is not above brutality and terrorism. i truly do not mean to be incendiary by saying this, but it seems to me to be incredibly naive to think that the events of 9/11 were not in some way inevitable. by that i don't mean that the united states had it coming -- i'm not THAT cynical. what i mean is that horrible horrible things happen every day all over the world. it was only a matter of time before it happened here, too.
you know what the virginia tech massacre makes me think? it makes me think that we're damn fortunate. we live in a world where things like this generate so much attention because they just don't happen. we should thank our lucky stars.
but you know what the 170 deaths in baghdad make me think? it makes me incredibly sad and outraged that we've become so accustomed to stories about suicide bombings and civilian deaths in iraq that we no longer bat an eye.
i wonder, would we have cared as much about what happened at virginia tech if it had taken place in afghanistan?
one hundred seventy people. that's almost my whole law school class. that's bigger than my entire high school. imagine if my law school class or the student body of my high school got obliterated by four car bombs and another explosion. now imagine that in the ensuing chaos, a crazy sniper took out somebody else and wounded two others. because that's what happened last week in baghdad.
please don't misconstrue these thoughts as belittling the horror and devastation of what happened to those 32 students at virginia tech -- i would never want to suggest that those lives aren't worth recognition or attention. but i only ask that we put it in perspective. 32 deaths. 33, including the gunman. this was the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. well, today alone, nine iraqi soldiers were killed and fifteen other people were wounded in another baghdad car bombing. are those nine lives, or the 170 that were lost last week, any less valuable than the 33 in blacksburg?
we should all be outraged. we should all pay closer attention. just because it doesn't happen in our own backyards doesn't make it any less wrong.