Easier Not to Look

Posted: December 31, 2008 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

From The New York Times:

Quietly, as the United States presidential election and its aftermath have dominated the news, America’s three broadcast network news divisions have stopped sending full-time correspondents to Iraq.

“The war has gone on longer than a lot of news organizations’ ability or appetite to cover it,” said Jane Arraf, a former Baghdad bureau chief for CNN who has remained in Iraq as a contract reporter for The Christian Science Monitor.

Mike Boettcher, a Baghdad correspondent for NBC News from 2005 to 2007, said nightly news segments and embed assignments with military units occurred less frequently as the war continued.

“Americans like their wars movie length and with a happy ending,” Mr. Boettcher said. “If the war drags on and there is no happy ending, Americans start to squirm in their seats. In the case of television news, they began changing the channel when a story from Iraq appeared.”

The Iraq story soured long ago; now the American people look elsewhere, to Afghanistan, to The Good War(tm), to fields of poppies where our bad guys can be unambiguously bad and we the Sleeping Giant roused to wrath, while the illusion holds. But it will not hold forever. One day soon, we will see the images of the civilians killed by our savage pursuit of those we make it okay to hate. Then, sunk deep into the wastes of the graveyard of empires, where will we turn?

Of a Forgetful Sea

Sometimes, I forget the sun
sinking into the ocean.

Desert is only a handful of sand
held by my daughter.

In her palm,
she holds small creatures,
tracks an ant, a flea
moving over each grain.

She brings them to places
she thinks are safe:

an island of driftwood,
the knot of a blackberry bush,
a continent of grass.

Fire ants carried on sticks,
potato bugs scooped
into the crease of a newspaper.

She tries to help them
before the patterns of tides
reach their lives.

She knows about families
who fold together like hands,
a horizon of tanks moving forward.

Here war is only newsprint.

How easy it is not to think about it
as we sleep beneath our quiet sky,
slip ourselves into foam, neglectful
waves appearing endless.

–Kelli Rusell Agodon, Poets Against the War

Were Jesus walking the earth telling parables about the Kingdom of God, his modern version of Lazarus at the gate might instead be a haunted derelict of a person harmed by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; stepped over, ignored, beneath our notice.

It’s easier to ignore the suffering and lost outside the gate. But the ignored are the favored ones. We should make sure we are on their side.

If you want to keep your eyes open, you might take a look at Boettcher’s website, NoIgnoring.

  1. Sporkmaster says:

    Hold on, while far from perfect, Iraq has improved alot. Soon it will be able to defend itself without us for the most part. The comment that we are looking else where becuase Iraq has soured is not true. I have talked to many people who have been here as early as 03 and things have gotten better not worse.

    This is real life and it is easy to be a arm chair general and complain why the war is not a repeat of Desert Storm. But if we shrink back if things go wrong, all our enemies have to do is wait us out and reply on negative press to do the rest.

    Except if you know people are being threated and killed, and not helping, how is that not ignoring them? Also with that last part replace gate with wire and you may have a look at why I wanted to be here to help.

    • dcrowe says:

      Hi Sporkmaster:

      I was wondering why a post I wrote back in December was suddenly getting all this attention; looks like the comments above yours are spam. Dangit! I’ll delete them shortly.

      However, to address your point: My comment was that we’re looking elsewhere was specific to the media and the American people in general–I wasn’t commenting on the attitude of people actually in Iraq like yourself. The remark about the story “souring” had to do with people’s and networks’ fatigue with the story, as reflected in the plummeting numbers of stories dealing with Iraq and the sharply reduced network presences in the country.

  2. Sporkmaster says:

    Sorry, I just saw this on the recent comment list and assumed it was current. I can understand that logic. But it seems that the media wants “BIG” stories with a lot of dirt. I mena look at how fast they droped Iran for Micheal Jackson. It is the curse of the short attention span.

    Or my favorate; :lets have a ‘deep’ conversation in 3 mins or less. Those turn into useless shouting matches flound one the Factor and Countdown.

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