CNN’s top-front story this morning is a disgusting video showing a dead girl from the al-Ranel neighborhood of Latakia. She was shot in the eye, and is sprawled out on the sidewalk. “Her mouth was frozen, slightly ajar. Her vacant face and lifeless head conjured the image of an alabaster bust,” the reporter described.
Left unsaid in the CNN piece is that al-Ranel hosts a large Palestinian refugee settlement, which has taken many of the hits from the Syrian navy as it shells Sunni neighborhoods. 2.5-year-old O’laa Jablawi could be one of another generation of Palestinians with less rights than even Syrians themselves, doomed to grow up in Syria as an outsider with few prospects — though they’re admittedly not as bad off as Lebanese Palestinians. They don’t have birthright citizenship in these places, of course. But I digress.
Such care to detail is taken by American reporters to describe everything down to the position of a senselessly slaughtered little girl’s hair — as long as she is the victim of an enemy dictatorship. If little O’laa had been born in, say, the West Bank with her possible kinsmen, felled by an Israeli bullet, she’d be a footnote. If she were an Afghan or Pakistani child killed by a US drone, not only would there be little evidence of her body left, we would have never known of her existence, let alone her name.
168 children have been murdered by US drones since 2004 just on the Pakistani side of the border. We have no idea how many have been killed on the Afghan side. And we don’t know the names of even one of them. Does CNN solemnly report on the shocking and revolting details of their deaths? Never.
We see this hypocrisy, this unequal view of the “other,” carried over into our own justice system. Members of the Afghan “Kill Team,” which killed innocent Afghans for sport, were given pathetically light sentences. But a US soldier who shot dead two colleagues in (possibly) self-defense was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole. The latter killed humans beings that matter. The former thugs did not.
It’s good that CNN is showing us, at least through leaked video — Assad has banned foreign journalists from Syria — the horrors of war, the terrible, heart-breaking human toll. But if American pride is on the scales opposite a gruesome truth, we can expect the Pentagon’s pet media to hold a finger on the side keeping Lady Liberty’s face unblemished.