Today, as news organization after news organization “remembers” the September 11 attacks — and as our fellow Americans remind us not to forget September 11 — I saw something truly shocking.
It was a Facebook post by WISN 12 NEWS, Milwaukee’s ABC affiliate:
By The Numbers: Approximately 3,460 died on 9/11/01. Approximately 1,566 soldiers have died in the ensuing War on Terror.
Beneath this message was a link to a page at the WISN.com website, “September 11: By The Numbers,” featuring a slideshow of statistics and clip art.
I thought the figure of “1,566 soldiers” dying in the “ensuing War on Terror” was way, way too low — so I checked iCasualties.org, which counts 7,502 military fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan, 6,236 of them U.S. troops, and another 1,266 from coalition forces.
Why was the WISN 12 NEWS figure so far off? Looking at the slideshow, we find 1,566 given in Slide 7 as the number of “U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom as of May 2011.”
So it’s just U.S. fatalities. They’re not counting coalition forces. But isn’t something else missing as well?
I think so. I seem to remember something about a war in Iraq.
Of the 13 slides, only one mentions Iraq. Slide 8 notes the “100,598 to 109,895 recorded civilian deaths in Iraq since 2003.” These figures are a bit short of the ones at IraqBodyCount.org. Perhaps they are also from May 2011. Maybe the slideshows they feed us on September 10 are prepared four months in advance.
But wait — those 100,000 plus Iraqi civilians didn’t just drop dead, did they? Wasn’t the U.S. involved in a war in Iraq? Wasn’t that Iraq War part of the “War on Terror”?
Of course I realize that WISN 12 NEWS is just feeding a continuous stream of informational tidbits to their Facebook followers in an effort to compete with all the other “news” organizations that are feeding continuous streams of informational tidbits to their followers.
Still, this sort of omission is extremely disconcerting. That’s a lot of coffins to ignore.
You have to imagine that the families of the 4,792 military fatalities in Iraq would be troubled to know that their loved ones are no longer included in the “War on Terror.” Similarly upset might be those injured or otherwise harmed in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
At first glance, slogans like “Never forget 9/11” seem superfluous and almost silly. How could anyone forget major world events that cost Americans thousands of lives?
Apparently, though, when you’re trying to get eyeballs and page views to your 13 “By the Numbers” slides, even a TV news organization in a major U.S. city can’t be that concerned about the actual numbers.
Except –of course — for the number of Facebook “likes.”