Congratulations are in order to the United States military for finally crossing that all-important milestone the press has apparently been all-too-eagerly awaiting: 1,000 military personnel killed in Iraq! Judging by the likeminded headlines devoted to this phenomenon, it’s unclear which milestone was more excitedly anticipated, the one measuring the American military death toll or San Francisco Giants’ slugger Barry Bonds’ attempt to reach 700 career home runs. (Good luck, Barry, natch! We hear that one PFC Larry Gutierrez from Alameda is pulling for you from his base in Najaf.)
While cynics may charge that the idea of hyping or heavily reporting our nation’s having reached a four-figure death toll pertaining to the invasion of Iraq cheapens the equally tragic deaths of, say, numbers 997, 998, and 999, Americans can rest assured that the president is equally supportive of each and every death, or more significantly, what those deaths “represent” or “stand for.” In this vein, President Bush, noted disciple of Clement Greenberg that he is, warmly embraces symbolism by way of his henchmen. To wit, from the New York Times:
Mr. Bush never mentioned the figure on a bus tour across Missouri. But at the very moment he was criticizing Mr. Kerry as having flip-flopped on Iraq, his press secretary, Scott McClellan, told reporters that the 1,000 men and women had died “so that we defeat the ideologies of hatred and tyranny.”
For what its worth, we’re guessing that the more than 11,000 Iraqi civilians who have died in this same time period as a result of the invasion also gave their lives for such grandiose, abstract notions as “statehood” and “better prisons” and “a capital-punishment-free nation”.