Art of Denial
By Scott C. Smith
Since the launch of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" fourteen months
ago, over 800 American troops have been killed and thousands
more injured. Not that you'd know it from the conservative
pundits and politicians.
In their world, no one is dying, and America is building
infrastructure, schools and hospitals. Conservatives look
at Iraq through rose-colored glasses, all the while refusing
to acknowledge the reality on the ground, and blaming liberals
and Democrats for "politicizing" the war.
Conservatives have also politicized the war, but in a different
way. When the footage of Nick Berg being murdered by terrorists
was released to the world on May 11, the conservative pundits
quickly latched onto that horrible footage to justify war.
The footage was also used to minimize photographs released
from Abu Ghraib prison, photographs showing Iraqi prisoners
being sexually abused by American guards. While the photographs
from Abu Ghraib were bad, many a conservative pundit said,
they were not as bad as the footage of Nick Berg's murder.
To conservatives, the death of one American at the hands
of terrorists is bad, but the deaths of almost 800 Americans
because of war is something not to be discussed. The pro-war
conservatives know that showing any images of flag-covered
caskets returning to the United States could change public
opinion of the war. And they don't want the war to end.
Conservatives use the excuse of privacy as the reason not
to release any photographs of our war dead. They say they're
trying to maintain the privacy and dignity of family members
who have lost brothers, uncles, fathers or cousins in the
Unless the dead soldier is famous. Pat Tillman, a pro-football
player for the Arizona Cardinals, left behind millions of
dollars to enlist into the U.S. Army. He was killed last month
in Afghanistan. Suddenly conservatives were not all that concerned
over his family's privacy. They could talk about his death
because it was politically advantageous to do so.
Another subject conservatives do not talk about is the number
of injured U.S. soldiers. It's not a figure that's mentioned
often, even by the "liberal" media, due to the fact that the
data is so hard to find. In today's European Stars and Stripes,
the number of injured troops treated at Landstuhl hospital
in German was listed at over 7,000. That's just the one hospital.
Why are we ignoring the brave men and women who have sacrificed
their lives and bodies to the war in Iraq? It seems that the
conservative politicians would rather sweep the information
on our wounded under the rug, rather than honor the sacrifice
made by our dead and injured forces. To not do so because
of the possible negative political consequences is simply
"Out of sight, out of mind," is how the saying goes. And
if we're not careful, we're going to reach a point where the
general public really does forget about the men and women
fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. When that happens, their
sacrifices are rendered irrelevant.
Yes, the footage of Nick Berg being murdered is horrible
to watch, and Americans were rightly outraged by this very
public execution. But we also need to recognize and acknowledge
our men and women in uniform, whether it is good news or bad
It's time for conservatives to remove the rose-tinted spectacles
and recognize the reality of war. They wanted war more than
anyone, these conservative pundits and politicians. And it's
about time we stopped sweeping its ugly reality under the
About the author: Scott C. Smith is a freelance writer
from Beaverton, Oregon. Scott's column has been featured at
the Democratic Underground, Counter Bias, and the Smirking
Chimp web sites. In addition to his column, Scott writes for
his web site, What's
In Scott's Head.