It was very disheartening to read that we've already had our 91st casualty shot dead. Ninety-one people killed in cold blood, and there's not even a war going on. I can't believe that there's nothing we could have done to reduce or minimize that number. How can our government allow this to happen?
No, this isn't the number of soldiers killed in Iraq. This is the number of murders in Oakland so far this year.
Oakland isn't a war zone (though some might argue that it is), yet they have more casualties so far this year than U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq since the end of major combat. Why isn't the New York Times or CBS News doing a story every night to announce the death of yet another Oakland resident who was murdered in cold blood? Certainly ninety-one people killed in a U.S. city that isn't in the middle of a war zone is more newsworthy than announcing the death of every soldier in Iraq's dangerous military conflict.
In fact, only sixty-nine U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraqi combat since the end of major conflict was announced. And that's across the entire country of Iraq, not just within one city.
My intent is not to minimize the deaths of these brave soldiers in Iraq. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Our media has done an excellent job of creating an image of death and extreme danger in Iraq on a daily basis. Why is it necessary to create an atmosphere of extreme stress and panic for the families and friends of soldiers in Iraq?
Let's take a look at the actual numbers to see what's really happening. The U.S. had about 250,000 troops deployed in Iraq during the major combat, and there were approximately 185 combat deaths. That's a casualty rate of about .074%. Since major combat ended, the reduction of troops has been in the neighborhood of 150,000 (which was reduced last week to approximately 120,000) with 69 combat deaths. That's a casualty rate of about .046%. Oakland has an adult population of approximately 300,000. Based on murders to date in Oakland, the casualty rate is about .030%. Extrapolating the current murder rate for a full year yields a casualty rate of about .052%.
Compared to Oakland, Iraq actually appears to be relatively safe. Why could it be that the major media outlets insist on creating doom-and-gloom news stories about casualties in Iraq while ignoring Oakland? Or better yet, why hasn't the news spin been focused on how few casualties there have been in Iraq given the enormity of the task and the dangers lurking there with terrorism and Saddam's leftover loyalists? Surely these media outlets aren't trying to create failure out of success. No, that would be totally out of character.
The families and loved ones of our brave soldiers deserve better. It is disgusting how much the media focuses on creating failure in Iraq. As much as they wish this were Vietnam, it isn't. Almost 50,000 American soldiers died in combat in Vietnam. We won this war with some of the lowest casualties in the history of war, including civilian casualties. Our fallen soldiers should be held up as heroes by the media, not used as props for creating an aura of failure and endless quagmire.
The next time you see our "unbiased" media parading dead soldiers across the screen to raise the flag of failure in Iraq, just remember to keep things in perspective. Being a resident in Oakland isn't much safer than being a soldier stationed in Iraq.