What's All This Then?

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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A theme that I have visited several times on this blog - and that I imagine I will continue to visit, is the mindset of newspaper editors in charge of the "letters to the editor" section of the paper and what possesses them to publish certain letters.

A couple of examples. On May 7, 2003, I suggested that perhaps some editors used the "letters" section as a way of "saying" things that they wouldn’t dare say in the news sections or even in the editorial and op-ed sections. However outlandish or bigoted or historically revisionist a commentary or an idea might be - it was O.K. to publish because it wasn’t the paper saying it. It was just the opinion or analysis of a reader.

On March 9, 2004, under the headline SILLY LETTERS THAT GET PUBLISHED - BUT WHY? I didn’t suggest any clandestine reasons for publishing silly letters, but I gave an example of one piece of silliness and wondered whatever would possess an editor to publish it. I speculated on some reasons but none of them very convincingly. I said then that I just couldn’t imagine why some editors publish ideas from readers that they know are just plain ridiculous - and in many cases, insulting to any reader with no more than average intelligence.

And now, here we go again. Of all days, the daily paper that I read, the Chicago Tribune, chose July 4th - Independence Day, to publish a silly letter from one Donald Froelich, that has to rank pretty high among the collection of silly letters published by that paper over the years. And the reason for this particular silly letter’s selection may well be found in the theory I advanced in my blog of May 7, 2003 referenced above. Maybe someone involved in letter selection at the Tribune actually believes that one can put the deaths of our service people in Iraq "in perspective" by comparing the numbers to other death numbers and that there is some value in doing so!!

It’s difficult to respond to anything so ridiculous in a serious manner, but I’ll try nonetheless. The letter writer’s "point" - if you can call it that, is that there are large numbers of deaths from all sorts of causes that are not highlighted by the media. He cites deaths from automobile accidents as an example and asks "where the outcry is to ban cars." He might as well have asked where is the outcry to control the price of lobster tails for all the sense his "comparison" makes. One has to wonder why he simply didn’t cite the universal death rate from all causes to put the deaths of our service personnel in Iraq "in perspective." That would surely make the point about all the belly aching over a lousy seventeen hundred Americans who happened to get killed in Iraq. Why, there are hundreds of thousands of people who die every day - so, according to Mr. Froelich, "God should bless President Bush and our military leaders for keeping the casualty rate so low in Iraq."

That’s the sort of reasoning found in the confessed murderer of his parents who asks the court for mercy because he’s an orphan. Except that there’s more to it with this letter writer. Mr. Froelich reveals himself and the philosophy behind his reasoning by comparing the mere 1700 military deaths in Iraq with the "deaths" of 1.4 million "unborn American babies" killed each year by abortion and complaining that those "deaths’ aren’t considered news. Here is the convoluted morality of the extreme right that wrings its hands and sheds tears over "killing" of the "unborn" but thinks it’s perfectly O.K. to say that because other wars and other sets of circumstances have produced large numbers of American deaths, 1,700 deaths in Iraq are somehow less tragic, less overwhelming, when considered "in perspective."

Well Mr. Froelich, here’s a "perspective" for you. Since we weren’t able to stop the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11/2001- even though we might have been able to do just that if Mr. Bush and his advisors had heeded the warnings they were given when they took over the White House - there was no way to prevent the death of close to double the number of Americans killed in Iraq. In World War ll, we were attacked by Japan and had war declared upon us by Germany. The deaths that we incurred in the battles of Iowa Jima and the Ardennes, were in a war not of our instigation. We were attacked and we responded.

But Iraq did not attack us. Iraq had nothing to do with the attack of 9/11 to which we responded slowly but at least appropriately in Afghanistan. Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction with which it was preparing to attack the United States, the United Kingdom or any other country. They weren’t ever 45 minutes away from a launch of anything against anybody. While the desire for regime change in Iraq was the stated policy of this country during the Clinton Presidency, achieving it by military intervention was not. President Bush, who is as deeply concerned over the "killing" of millions of "the unborn" as you are, had a different idea. It was an idea that he had from the moment he took office - probably even before - and the outrage of 9/11 provided him with an excuse to turn his idea into action. Encouraged and emboldened by advisors who have become loosely identified as "neocons," he sent our military forces to attack a nation that had not attacked us, killing countless thousands of Iraqis in the process, creating a battleground for terrorists that had never before existed and sacrificing the lives of over 1700 American men and women, injuring thousands more and with more being added to that death and injury casualty list every day

Here’s your perspective Mr. Froelich. There was no need for any of those young people to die or to be blinded or paralyzed or to lose limbs. The evidence is overwhelming and is still growing that Mr. Bush had made up his mind to attack and overthrow Saddam Hussein long before he sought Congressional approval to do so and that the justifications he proffered for launching the attack were without substance. That he continues to proffer them as our young continue to fall on the battlefield of his creation is beyond forgiving.

And I feel the same way about whoever at the Chicago Tribune gave the green light to publishing this piece of nonsensical non-reasoning. It’s a good paper, but when it comes to Mr. Bush and the Iraq adventure, its editors have their collective heads buried in the sand of Lake Michigan’s beaches.