TV news sure makes wars comfortable spectator sports. On-the-spot reporters break in to elaborate on nighttime flashes and siren wails. Speculating pundits, laden with biases, are able to maneuver every new factoid into their preconceived situation synthesis.
Not to worry, though, the news network format is not stretched. Commercials are still running. The anchors are still fluffing the hair (CNN) or twitching their jowls (FOX).
The mid-East horrors are being played like a expandable — but fungible — disaster piece for our schadenfreude entertainment. “Israeli Missile Strikes Gaza” follows “San Bernardino Declared Disaster”, and then the hunt for the hit-and-run driver that killed the jogger in the park is thrown in for emotional relief before the next flare up from one desert or the other.
True war, crushing city war has been sanitized as routine entertainment with an extra mention on the business report as the cause of the stock market drop.
No wonder. President Bush has been hyping the all-out War on Terror (Condition ORANGE! Wolf! Wolf!! WOLF!!!) for several years. Yet, there has been no war on terror. The United States hasn’t pulled together for the common good, suspended the Good Life, gone on a war footing where pleasure is postponed to defeat a truly deadly enemy. We haven’t even been asked to do this. No, The War on Terror has been a war in slogan only, good for casting political opponents as unpatriotic, but not real enough to inconvenience daily life or commerce.
The language has been debased so thoroughly that we seem not to understand what real war is. We’ve heard “war” used as a synonym for “effort”, “important effort”, and “effort so important that you cannot question what I do”.
I have no quick solution to the slick grimness packaged on the cable media.
I just have anger, sadness,… and hope.