1 million dead and 5 million refugees (2011)
1 Million Dead in Iraq? 6 Reasons the Media Hide the True Human Toll of War — And Why We Let Them
Most Americans turn a blind eye to the violent acts being carried out in their name.
By John Tirman / AlterNet July 19, 2011
The “tens of thousands” mantra is peculiar because even the most conservative calculation—that provided by Iraq Body Count, a British NGO—is now more than 100,000, and IBC acknowledges that their number is probably about half correct. They count only civilians killed by violence who are named in English-language news and some morgue counts. Their method is incomplete for a number of reasons—news media coverage is far from comprehensive, most obviously—and many Iraqis who are killed are not labeled by authorities as civilians. The death toll from nonviolent deaths (women dying in childbirth, for example, because the health care system has been devastated by the war) is also very high and is not included in IBC’s tally.
The more accurate figures come from household surveys and other methods, and these have much higher figures.
A half-dozen reasons explain their indifference to accurate reporting.
First, many of these news outlets had endorsed the war and never quite recanted. Even if a newspaper did admit to a mistake in judgment about the war, acknowledging that you’ve been hoodwinked by the Bush administration and then seeing that error magnified by 5 million refugees and perhaps a million dead is a hard pill to swallow.
Second, the Bush White House worked overtime to decry any of the high estimates, and the Murdoch media machine did its part in attempting to discredit the household surveys in particular.
Fourth, the political establishment, including the Democratic leadership, would not touch this issue, and the news media was left without an opposition voice.
The sixth and last explanation for indifference—and perhaps the most powerful—is a psychological one. We tend to avert our eyes from gruesome spectacle; it disrupts our sense of an orderly, just world. We want to believe that the mayhem is not happening, that in the end everything will be all right, or that the victims are to blame.