“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Tuesday, June 24, 2003


It is Jessica Lynch's fate to be a poster-girl -- first for American heroism, then for the lies of the Pentagon, and now for the rightwing accusation that criticizing her "myth" is akin to hatin' America.

While we were surfing rightwing blog sites, it occured to us that Jessica Lynch should properly be a poster girl for the ambiguity of the term "accident" in a combat zone. This blogger, Omnibus Bill, dramatizes the accident that sprained her spine and takes out his ire on various leftwingers. The leftwinger part we don't care about -- but we did find that the dramatization makes a simple point: we have no idea how the military classifies 'accident.' The papers regularly report a very high number of fatalities due to accidents in Iraq -- 41 to 51. Since one of LI's monomaniacal points for the last couple of weeks has been that the media is consistently underplaying our casualties in Iraq in order not to undermine our Commander in Chief's foolish declaration that the hostility was over, we have been wondering whether Omnibus Bill's description doesn't apply to other wounded and dead soldiers.

Our friend, T., in New York City, writes:

"I once used to drink with a guy occasionally who was in the marines for a time (he was quite proud of his time in "service" to his country). He was a very sad man (as many of the people one drinks with occasionally often are): amongst a host of other complaints, he felt he was double damned to ridicule - while participating in the "war" in Grenada, his leg was badly messed-up in a jeep accident. Thus, for too many barflys, he wasn't a real soldier because he wasn't in a real war and he didn't suffer any real harm because he didn't suffer a real wound. He felt quite the contrary - whatever the boys in DC might have called it, from where he was it was a war and during that war his leg was mangled - by jeep or by bullet was an academic difference."

The Dod website offers very laconic notices of what it calls "cases of mishap." Here's one, for instance:


The Department of Defense today identified the four Marines killed on May 19 in the CH-46 Sea-Knight helicopter that went down shortly after take-off in the Shatt Al Hillah Canal, in Iraq. The helicopter was conducting a resupply mission in support of civil military operations. They are:
Capt. Andrew David LaMont, 31, of Eureka, Calif.
Lance Cpl. Jason William Moore, 21, of San Marcos, Calif.
1st Lt. Timothy Louis Ryan, 30, of Aurora, Ill.
Staff Sgt. Aaron Dean White, 27, of Shawnee, Okla.

There's no explanation of the cause of the helicopter crash; everywhere we searched, the same story was repeated. They simply crashed. Were they under enemy fire? No clue. Was it a misfunction of the helicopter? No clue. As we know, supporting soldiers only counts when the country needs a little tv entertainment -- but not when the deaths get to be annoying.

As Jessica Lynch's injury, capture and rescue gets the magnifying glass treatment, it becomes obvious that certain words -- crash, conducting a resupply mission, etc. -- seem to nail down facts that are really fluid -- quicksilver, full of nuances that the media, sated with their successful war, are unwilling to investigate. It will happen, though. There will be plenty of time. We seem to be in the first phase of a long guerilla war. As the accidents mount into the hundreds, one of them, at least, will attract some reporter's interest.

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