Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Falling off the Front Page

It´s rather disconcerting how little coverage the deaths of American soldiers are getting. Sure, the basic fact and numbers are reported, but the personal side - widely covered in the runup to the war - is gone.

Awhile back in this post, I said:

This reminded me of some passages in Christian Bauman´s excellent novel The Ice Beneath You. It´s much less of a "war novel" than one might think from the marketing, but some of the pivotal events take place in Somalia during a time when most Americans were unaware that we even had troops there. I imagine there´s something about being in a hell hole with your friends getting killed and wondering why it doesn´t even make the evening news.

Christian, whose website can be found here, was kind enough to respond:

My anger over this subject is so deep and profound I have a hard time expressing it. It's one of the things (obviously) that led directly to the writing of my book, and continues (on a somewhat smaller scale) in my next book.

Americans forget about the troops serving because the media allows them to. Because the media is scared the public will lose interest and turn the channel. It's very, very frustrating.

What's happening right now in Iraq, this constant-24/7-fear-of-being-shot-by-every-person-I-see was life as usual for American soldiers in Somalia, the beginning of Haiti, Bosnia... Half the time Americans didn't know we had troops there, and if they did, it was easily brushed off. "Well, it's not a war, right?"

No. In some ways, psychologically, it's worse.

So now here we are, "major combat over," and I fear this is happening again. Army families were fun to film 6 months ago, when they were all teary goodbyes. Now, it's just unpaid bills and small kids developing behavior problems and ulcers forming -- and none of that is very interesting to network TV news.