Last Wednesday, these three events took place at the same time:
President Obama released his birth certificate to quell a fringe conspiracy theory–never supported by any facts–that he was not born in this country. Fans of Sony PlayStation were complaining because their network was down. And eight U.S. Air Force members, along with a civilian contractor, were shot to death by an Afghan pilot who opened fire during a meeting at the Kabul airport.
Guess which story got the least media attention.
The deaths of these nine Americans in Afghanistan received so little coverage that some of my wife’s coworkers at the Pentagon didn’t know about it. Sadly, military deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq happen on a regular basis, and reporters cannot make each one a lead story. But the incident in Kabul was far from ordinary: an ally turning on advisers who were there to help rebuild his country. A workplace shooting superimposed over a war.
Similar workplace violence in the U.S. would have led the news that day, or at least received more air time. Perhaps people have become numb to the war. Perhaps there’s an unspoken notion that troops are supposed to die in Afghanistan. Or perhaps people just don’t want to hear it. Not when their PlayStation is down.
The general population has not been asked to make sacrifices in our current wars. But the one percent of Americans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan would at least like the other ninety-nine percent to pay attention. The events of this week, and the coverage each received, serves as a harsh reminder that to most civilians, Call of Duty means a computer game.