343 and 2,000
It just struck me that the number on the fireman's helmet of my son's Halloween costume is "343". This is not just any random number. "343" happens to be the number of firemen killed at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. These brave men, along with 23 police officers and 2,457 civilians, were all murdered by Islamic terrorists that morning in New York City. Kudos to the costume manufacturer/marketer for remembering the heroes of September 11th in a respectful manner.
Russell's Halloween costume honors the 343 New York City firemen murdered by Islamic terrorists on September 11, 2001
The same cannot be said for the American press corps. Lately, the mainstream media has been obsessed with "2,000" , the number of soldiers killed in Iraq since March 2003. This "grim milestone" was covered extensively by the press, which staged a macabre countdown with the fervor of Millenium New Year's Eve partygoers. But unlike "343", the magic "2,000" number was entirely a media creation which--despite the protests of the press corps--trivializes the heroic sacrifices of our armed forces. The 2,000th death of an American hero was no different from any of the others before or after it, except that it gave the press an excuse to ignore the victories won against the terrorists and to focus on topics damaging to President Bush.
I expect to see similar exaltations from the media at the 2,500 mark (God forbid) and any other casualty figures ending in two or three zeros--nice round numbers that the press can trumpet as proof of the quagmire that is Iraq. The media insists that they are merely covering the news, unpleasant as it may be to supporters of the War on Terror. Yet the same media implemented a self-imposed blackout of images depiciting people jumping 90 stories to their deaths at the World Trade Center, but sued to photograph the flag-draped coffins of service members killed in Iraq.
In spite of the doom-and-gloom press, the Iraqi people recently ignored death threats from the terrorists and voted to approve their constitution--the first of its kind in the Arab world. In other words, the 2,000-plus deaths of American and Allied service members will not have been in vain, apart from the fact that the media will likely shy away from reporting the inevitable defeat of terrorism in Iraq. Isn't it a shame that the press cannot have the same sense of decency as a Halloween costume company?