Friday, April 13, 2007

Imagine what it's like on this side of the border

This afternoon, the lead story on the websites of Canada's two largest news outlets, CBC and CTV, has been about the mental health crisis at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, where children "are on the brink of suicide."

This news is sad and disturbing, but at least it is being noted.

As a border straddler, I pay close attention to the news emanating from both sides of the 49th Parallel. I am struck by the sharp contrast between the respectful and thorough coverage that the Canadian media gives to its military's successes and losses in Afghanistan, and the relative lack of media coverage of the US military's gains and losses in Iraq and Afghanistan. Last week, eight members of the Canadian Armed Forces were killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan. Those two incidents were the leading news stories on all of the major Canadian news outlets last week. Those soldiers were acknowledged. Their names were stated. Their lives were honoured.

As of today, fifty-two American soldiers have died in Iraq since 1 April 2007. Have they been acknowledged? Honoured? Even mentioned in the national media? Nope. To be fair, who can concentrate on these details when Sanjaya is still on American Idol? Who cares about the fact that the US Army now faces 15 month tours in Iraq and Afghanistan when some mumbling old fool said some stupid shit about some basketball players? Why should anyone care about the mental health of soldiers' children when the more pressing issue of the identity of Anna Nicole's babydaddy has been announced?

Rosie O'Donnell said it best in her brilliant blog entry yesterday:

junk food
junk news
america - we r bloated

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rose: Eloquently said. The tragedy of this war, well, a tragedy among tragedies, is the shallow depth of the support for our soldiers and Marines. The display of the yellow ribbons appears to end with the purchase of the $3 magnetic sticker. Of course, some of the blame for this needs to be placed squarely on the back of the administration, which does everything in its power to keep the news of deaths and injuries from the people. Trying to drag anything but pure public relations out of Fort Drum's public information department is like trying to suck water out of a rock.
Every time I'm at the mall or the grocery store, it breaks my heart to see these young men and know the risks they face and the potential for tragedy their families must deal with.
I'm not sure there is any real way to honor them short of demanding changes in Iraq -- a recognition, for example, that the war plan has been wrong from day one and has made it more dangerous for our troops as a result.
I think Americans do a better job of supporting the soldiers than we did during the Vietnam war, but it could be better. Best, of course, would be to get the hell out of Iraq.