Monday, May 31, 2010

Servile Journalism for Memorial Day

John V Walsh -

Sunday’s New York Times, gearing up for Memorial Day, carries a leading front-page story direct from the Afghan front, complete with photos. Does it tell of the 1,000 Americans who have perished there in America’s longest war, or the unknown number of innocent Afghans to fall, or the many more on both sides gruesomely injured, or the devastation visited on the poor and backward regions of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan by the firepower of the mightiest war machine the world has yet to produce? Absolutely not.

Instead, readers are treated to a feel-good story about female Marines “bonding” with their Afghan sisters, under the headline “In Camouflage or Veil, a Fragile Bond.” Did a Times writer dream up that sappy headline, or did it come from a basement office in the Pentagon or Langley where pro-war psyops against the U.S. citizenry are concocted? Or can such a distinction even be drawn, with journalistic ambition and careerism run wild? In my edition of the paper of record the story is adorned with a photo of a young Marine woman holding an Afghan toddler. How nice these warriors are. No killing for them. Just handing out ibuprofen, “giggling” (sic) with Afghan women, and playing with kids.

Moreover, the women have done this in the face of skepticism from some of the male commanding officers! Not only are the Marines’ fearless females helping the benighted Afghan women and providing fine examples of women imperial warriors, they are striking a blow against male chauvinism in the imperial forces. These humanitarian wars are almost too good to be true. No wonder Medea Benjamin disclosed a soft spot in her very Democratic heart for Obama’s wars.

The New York Times is not alone. Not to be outdone, the Washington Post has a piece under the title “Life Lessons the Afghanistan War Taught Me,” full of the usual clichés about war’s pinup girls, rough weather, and Army food. But the writer reminds us forcefully that “American soldiers are here by choice. They want to make a difference for Afghans and provide security for the folks back home.” How lucky that the Post did not find one of the many soldiers who hate the wars and got trapped into them with multiple tours of duty. Just the luck of the draw, one might guess.

Read all of it.