The shooting last month involving Blackwater security contractors remains big news in the United States. Not here though. Soon after the story broke, it faded from the front pages.
The truth is that no one in Baghdad was very surprised to learn that on Sept. 16 innocent civilians had been killed in a hail of American gunfire. They were more likely to be thinking, “Oh, not again.” Of course some were angered, but over the past three years too many like incidents like this one have dulled people’s outrage.
Besides, they have more pressing worries: how to run a household on two hours of electricity a day; what school will keep their children safe from ethnic bullying; which route home is best for avoiding kidnap. They aren’t outraged about these things either. With weary determination, they just find ways to carry on.
Yes, and the bleeds it leads mentality of most U.S. media, formal or informal, doesn’t get it. "OH MY GOD! MERCENARIES?!" rules, leading to face time for the likes of Jeremy Scahill and Senator Hillary Clinton that take nuggets of reality and runs in the direction that sells more books, newspapers, or buys more votes.
"Oh, not again" must be understood for what it is: a seemingly daily occurrence that interferes with daily life, shaping perceptions against the U.S. and our mission locally and globally. When I put on the discussions and screening of Nick Bicanic’s Shadow Company last year, there was a short segment that (too) few of the audience latched onto: when the Blackwater Mambo driver (firm was undisclosed in the movie and, in reality, isn’t pertinent) laughed off a complaining Iraqi who said the contractor shot his radiator. What message is conveyed by the contractors response, ignoring if the act was justified or proper?
Yes, "over the past three years too many like incidents like this one have dulled people’s outrage". How do you suppose that affects our ability to be effective in the struggle in the minds and wills of men?