Monday, May 31, 2004


i was surprised to see the headline of this article. "4 Afghan Soldiers Killed in Taliban Attack on Government Offices" it reads. my surprise is not because it is about fighting in afghanistan (which usually takes more searching to find), but rather because of what it says in the first paragraph of the article:

Hours after an explosive device killed four American soldiers in Zabul Province in this country's south on Saturday, a convoy of Taliban fighters killed four Afghan soldiers in an attack on government offices in Helmand, another southern province.

so four americans died and four afghans died, but only the afghan deaths got mention in the headline. it's precisely the opposite of the usual pattern of the american press. usually the american deaths are in the headline, you have to read the article to learn that others were killed too (often, at least when the others are iraqis, in greater numbers than the americans). personally, i think it's wrong to value any life or death more than another, regardless of nationality. if news sources really want to be objective that is the only way to really approach it. but on a practical level, i recognize that realistically american news sources are going to care more about americans than non-americans. without a clue again.

so why is today's headline counter to the usual pattern? i haven't a clue. i'm sure some will think that it's a plot to obscure the number of american dead in the country, but i doubt its anything that sinister. after all, the text of the article itself mentions that may has had "one of the highest one-month combat death tolls [for Americans] in Afghanistan in two years." they didn't have to mention that statistic and i'm sure they wouldn't have if anyone at the times were making a conscious effort to hide american casualties from the public. so i'm back to the beginning of this paragraph.