28 Dead, Many Kids, Where Are Reporters?

Mourning parents of the dead children
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By Mark Scheinbaum

MIAMI (May 30,)—In the aftermath of the massacre of at least 28 people (more may die from injuries), many of whom were children, one clergyman said, “Everyone is trying to identify dead and wounded. There is no time for anger yet.”

It was supposed to be an outing, a trip with friends, or family, or a teacher, or all of the above. Instead, they were targeted in what authorities feel was the latest in a stepped up series of suicide bombing attacks.

t shook me to the bone with sadness when I heard the news on radio and later saw a few seconds of a video clip on TV. As the United States returnED to work after observing the memories of deceased servicemen and women, I checked to see how the survivors were doing.

But, I found no updates since the reports in The New York Times and elsewhere were from three days before which I found unusual since most, if not all of the victims were Christians.

Then again, they were Coptic Christians, targeted by fanatics who want Christians and Jews and Moslems who do not agree with their brand of Islam, dead. The attack location was Egypt and not Manchester, England.

The contrast of Western news organizations reporting the two attacks is instructive:   wall-to-wall coverage of English-speaking middle class victims at a pop concert of a rising star from Boca Raton, Florida, versus Egyptian Christians on a pilgrimage trip being targeted by assassins. It reminded me of the worst aspects of Vietnam War news coverage.

When you read through the writings of Joe Galloway, David Halberstam, Phil Caputo, or Col. David Hackworth, one sort of gets to understand the pejorative term called by some “the Mere Gook Syndrome.”

If Vietnamese enemy soldiers could be thought of as “Gooks”, then a dead body of a foe was only a Gook, just a “mere Gook.” So, if some general in The Pentagon decided that the “proper” ratio of U.S. Dead-to-Mere Gook dead should be, say, 1:10, any Second Lieutenant worth his salt needed to make sure that if two members of his patrol were killed on patrol, the action report spread to the chain of command and to the wire services and other media bureaus “confirmed” at least 20 enemy corpses were found after the encounter.

Save your messages and emails. It is probably my own contortion and convolution of current media trends to think that the almost routine attacks on Christians in Egypt or Pakistan just three days after more than 20 concert-goers in England are murdered by a terrorist bomber, would pack equal punch on CNN, Fox, BBC or in the print media.

Yet the story of religious fanatics attacking a caravan of students, parents, clergy, and teachers of a different religions going on an annual pilgrimage to study and pray, should have “legs.”

Major coverage was warranted, particularly in the conservative media that perpetually claims solid Christian values are not properly represented (“properly” of course is defined by them) by the “liberal” press. There is actually a case to be made that a domestic-centered news media in the USA does very little to cover stories from overseas, uses a talking head in London to “report” most “breaking” stories from Istanbul, Gaza, or Mumbai, and dumbs down any foreign news which does not have a domestic “angle.”

Manchester murders had “legs”, because kids who looked like your prom date, niece, or the audience at The Voice were dragged bloody or dead from an urban arena.

Apparently it was only the sound of car engines coming down the road that prevented the killers from murdering more Coptic Christians in Egypt. Don’t expect to hear about Egyptian retaliatory attacks and air strikes inside Libya or moderate politicians who were outraged any time soon. Certainly it will not be on tonight’s evening news.–

MARK SCHEINBAUM, frequent contributor, is managing director of Shearson Financial LLC in Boca Raton, Florida, a former newsman for United Press International, and adjunct lecturer in International relations at Florida International University, Miami.   His opinions are his own and not that of his firm or its clients.

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