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Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Depersonalizing murder

Headline in the New York Times:
Anti-U.S. Rioting Erupts in Kabul; at Least 14 Dead
Not "killed." Just "dead." As if their demise had occured from old age, or natural causes like an earthquake.

The article does its best to reinforce the headline. The first paragraph quite literally treats the riot as if it were an earthquake or a brush fire:

A deadly traffic accident caused by a United States military convoy quickly touched off a full-blown antiAmerican riot on Monday that raged across much of the Afghan capital, leaving at least 14 people dead and scores injured.
The second paragraph provides the American cover story: "the United States military said only that warning shots had been fired in the air." Not until the sixth paragraph do we get the rebuttal to that spin, which comes from the actual facts:
It became clear the American military and the Afghan police and army had used their weapons to try to disperse the crowds. Scores of people were treated in hospitals for gunshot wounds.
But even that is quickly forgotten. The very next paragraph interviews a doctor and talks about the actual dead people, but fails to mention how they died, leaving the thought that, although "scores were treated for gunshot wounds," perhaps the actual deaths were due to being trampled by a crowd or something else.

Fourteen people didn't just "die" in Afghanistan. They were killed by U.S. and/or Afghan troops.

Meanwhile, in the actions which are actually acknowledged as "killing," yet another air strike today in southern Afghanistan killed another 50 alleged Taliban, bringing the death toll from such attacks in just the last two weeks to more than 420. How many of those were actually Taliban, and how many innocent civilians, will surely never be known.

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