I wrote this Dec. 11 but forgot to post it in my hurry to scurry to work.
“The United Church of Christ. No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here.” NBC and CBS TV both rejected this ad–which shows bouncers working a rope line in front a church turning away a gay couple, a black girl and a Hispanic man–as “too controversial.” To quote columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. of the Miami Herald, “The maggot eaters of Fear Factor are evidently OK to broadcast…but a commercial that says only that God’s love includes us all is too controversial to show?! Unbelievable.”
I second that emotion.
“Unbelievable” is the word I’ve written and uttered the most in the past four years, but I may have to add something to the lexicon that is a whole lot stronger. The example above, indicating the bankruptcy of the American monopolized media, is unfortunately just one of many assaults on my (our) sensibilities. Last night, I happened to flip on the television while I was gobbling a late supper, to see a PBS Nova segment entitled: Life and Death in the War Zone.
The program had been made over a year ago (we must now assume conditions are much worse in Iraq) about the army field hospitals set up in conjunction with the American pre-emptive war. The outpost they examined was in the desert north of Baghdad, and the subject was doctors dealing with the “guidelines” on who they could treat and who they couldn’t with their “limited resources.” All the tough decisions the head doctors had to make: A mother who brought in her 20-something son paralyzed by a missile that hit their house was a “no.” Same for the Iraqi policeman whose stomach was infected from multiple shrapnel wounds, and the badly-burned two year old girl. Not enough supplies and beds to treat everyone, and of course, the American soldiers are first priority.
The Iraqi hospitals have no supplies, and haven’t had any for 10 years due to sanctions. Iraqi doctors were interviewed. “We have the knowledge to save people’s lives, but no medicines and supplies.” The report then focused on a mother who brought to the American field hospital her 10-year-old daughter with lots of horrible burn and bomb injuries. But what was striking was how malnourished the girl was. Her arms were just bones. The report said the mother (I almost wrote “parents” but the Iraqi men are in jail or dead) hadn’t been able to get the girl to treatment because they were trapped in their house due to fighting. I don’t think a month of siege, though horrible, made that girl so agonizingly thin. Yes they tried all means to save her, were even going to fly her–the one exception that touched the young medic’s heart– out of the country, but, well, she died before they could. A nurse cried, “I can’t take this–the children!) The dead girl’s mother wept, in the arms of one of the female nurse-soldiers (her head wrapped in a scarf). The docs put up a screen for privacy.
Nova reported this field hospital had treated 30,000 casualties (this was in 2003).
Now cut to a fully-equipped field hospital in Kuwait. They had personnel sitting around reading books, hadn’t seen one casualty since they opened. Nova reported, that particular hospital was subsequently abandoned.
I’ve gone to the Nova website and read the subsequent comments of the U.S. medical personnel interviewed in the film. They are so dedicated, work so hard, suffer a lot and do a lot. They will ultimately be casualties also, their memories, their stress. They also have had the opportunity to witness courage and be courageous.
And yet, and yet, as noble as it is, it is all so expensive and unnecessary. It never had to be done, the war was based on lies and greed, and while so many Americans and Iraqis suffer, the neo-cons and their corp cohorts and families enjoy their dinners, play their golf.
(Does anyone remember that this is ongoing suffering, with our awareness –or mine–just beginning during the Gulf War in 1991. Deaths of hundreds of thousands of children Marilyn Albright said were the price to pay for undermining Saddam (but sanctions didn’t work, did they? and we had to go on in and bomb this defiant oil rich country and occupy it.)