"There are only two ways of telling the complete truth—anonymously and posthumously."Thomas Sowell

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Thomas Sowell Gets It Right

Too often, when we talk about media bias we think about the way a reporter presents a story. What words are used? What ideas are emphasized? What we forget is that media bias also manifests itself as story selection. Sure, we can report casualties in Iraq, but we could also have lots of media report a village getting electricity or the changed fates of various families who were at odds with Saddam's regime. Dr. Sowell points out we could learn more about the military heroes.

Sowell thinks the press is hardly altruistic or patriotic in its attempt to focus on fallen soldiers. They aren't honored as heroes, but as martyrs to a flawed foreign policy. There's a big difference. Jay Nordlinger over at NRO said he hoped Sowell's latest piece would receive wide circulation. I'm happy to oblige. Here's a link and I'm quoting a large piece of the column below:

People have every right to be for or against this war or any other war. That is what editorial pages, newspaper columns, and radio and TV talk shows are all about. But pretending to be reporting news and "honoring" the troops is dirty business.

While our troops were willing to put their lives on the line to carry out their missions, they did not go overseas for the purpose of dying. Nor have they died without taking a lot more of the enemy with them. Every terrorist killed in Iraq is one that will never come over here to commit another 9/11.

Anyone who was serious about honoring the fallen troops would honor what they accomplished, not just the price they paid. More than 5,000 Marines died taking the one little island of Iwo Jima but they were honored for taking Iwo Jima - a wretched little island in itself, but a crucial forward base for supporting the air attacks on Japan that ended World War II.

Those who are busy "honoring" the deaths of American troops in Iraq seldom have much to say about what those troops accomplished. The restoration of electricity, the re-opening of hospitals and schools, and all the other things being done to try to restore a war-devastated country get little attention, and everything that has gone wrong makes the front pages and TV news for weeks on end.

This is the approach that gave the media their biggest triumph and ego boost - the discrediting of the war in Vietnam.

More than 50,000 Americans died trying to save that country from Communist attacks. Their achievements included victories on the battlefield that were negated politically by the way the American press reported the war.

In recent years, Vietnam's Communist leaders themselves have admitted that they lost that war on the ground but hung on because the American anti-war movement gave them hope that they could win it politically. It was a well-founded hope that the American media helped make come true when we withdrew both our troops and our financial and political backing for the Vietnamese under attack.

At that time, the media had not yet come up with the gimmick of "honoring" American war dead but they nevertheless were able to throw away the victory for which those men sacrificed their lives.

Will they repeat that heady achievement a second time in Iraq? They certainly seem to be trying. And it is no honor.


Jay D. Homnick said...

Thomas Sowell is the king of clear thinking and clean, cogent prose. (I could write that way too, but I would hate to disappoint Hunter Baker.) Speaking of required reading, every high-school student in America should read The Vision Of The Anointed, perhaps as a senior heading off to college.

Jay D. Homnick said...

And Sowell is right again - reporting by ass is a widespread phenomenon.