Pavlov rang the bell, the dogs drooled. The media directs, we mourn or we scorn -- we rage, we mock, we believe, we vote, we ignore.
At last, at least for a while yesterday, our media circus was forced to notice that there's a world outside the Seminole county Courthouse and took some time out from endless speculation and pointless discussion of the George Zimmerman trial to obsess about the Asiana airliner that landed short in San Fransisco. In fact as of Monday Morning, it's still "Breaking News" long after the wreckage has gone cold and the survivors taken to hospitals or released.
Yes, two people died, as did many others in transportation related incidents over the weekend. 67 people were murdered in Chicago, one of the gun control capitols of our nation. 10 people died horribly when their plane caught fire in Alaska but I didn't hear a thing about it on CNN, nor about the runaway train explosion that killed 5 with 40 still missing.as the maudlin dirge droned and the newsreaders groaned on and on speculating and conjecturing and playing the same interviews and showing the same pictures of a California runway until I gave up and turned it off.
Oh, the humanity.
Yes, people who still read news heard about those other things and more, but I suspect they're in the minority. We get angry, we get upset; we mourn and we get indignant according to what we're given to pay attention to by others who profit by it and through it.
Last Saturday, driving home, I was astonished to see an ocean of flags huge and small on Route 1 as it passes through this tiny burg. Dozens of police motorcycles, black limos, police cars and a hearse followed by hundreds of cars carrying flags; motorcycles with flags down a highway lined with mourners waving flags in the 86 degree heat. The President had a far smaller motorcade when he came through town last year.
A local sergeant killed in Afghanistan was being brought home for burial. It's not that many people knew him. It's not that his death was more or less tragic than all the others in all our needless wars. It's not that he was more or less a hero than anyone else in uniform and it's certainly not as though his loss and his family's grief had anything to do with a sacrifice for "our freedom." But that's how it was sold by the papers, or rather by the corporate owners answerable to people who want to promote war and acceptance of war and the glorification of war. All those thousands, all these years, but this, now.
As with all parts of America, friends, neighbors, sons and daughters
have been lost in this longest and most expensive of American wars. For a
long time after we blew Baghdad halfway to hell, the dead were brought home in secret, the media bullied into
not printing or reading lists of the casualties lest we seem to
disapprove of it all, like those hippies in the 70's. but it's not about America mourning the loss of its volunteer soldiers, it's about entertainment, about deluding ourselves that we don't respond to the ringmaster like circus performers -- to the conductor like an orchestra playing this great emotional symphony while the grip tightens on our lives.