Monday, July 08, 2013

The mourning will begin shortly, after this commercial announcement.

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 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.


Frank Moraes said...

I totally agree. It is very much like a 1984, "two minute hate" kind of thing. We must all sit together and care about this particular tragedy. The fact that much worse things are happening even at the same time doesn't matter. This is on TV!

I got in a bit of twitter fight this weekend about it where I was deemed "idiotic":

On Being an Asshole and Possibly Right

I still don't get it. It seems to me that they are the people who only care about things when they are led by the nose. Yet they take the high moral ground arguing that we are evil who aren't obsessed with the current media focus.

Capt. Fogg said...

Too many things are reminding me of Orwell these days. Being deemed an idiot is almost a badge of honor in America and the more you know the more likely it is -- or so I'm told.

But that one can write: "A plane crashed, lots of people impacted" without humorous comment says much about the American dialect. These people doubtless got better grades in High School English than I did. But then at least she didn't say it was awesome.