Eleven years ago Tuesday, the United States experienced the first attack on its soil since the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941. As Americans awoke Wednesday to find the U.S. embassy in Libya was under siege, it almost seemed as if we were reliving the same nightmare.
But as more information surrounding the four confirmed deaths, including U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens, begins to filter into our lives through various media, it is imperative that cooler heads prevail – something our nation’s leaders and leading news outlets continue to ignore.
It is beyond the capacity of The Bulletin staff to adequately investigate the tragedy in Libya with any amount of journalistic integrity. We know what you know. But what becomes painfully obvious is that in an election year, nothing is off limits in order to garner political leverage.
The repugnant tactic used by the Mitt Romney campaign to drum up conservative support regarding President Barack Obama’s response to the attack represents the kind of opportunistic politicizing of a national tragedy that trivializes the lives lost and furthers the political divide within American politics, all for few percentage points.
Additionally, media attention on the attacks contains a dangerous lack of perspective. Photos of pro-American and anti-terrorist Benghazi citizens can be seen in less visible publications.
Largely, the angle is fear. It is the perfect storm of 9/11 fear, an election year and American culpability that drives the media to set the agenda. Any attempt at portraying Islamic culture as anything less than violent is met with resistance by editors because it simply doesn’t sell.
Perhaps this reflects more on our culture than it does on these individuals and companies. Our insatiable bloodlust thrusts news in the direction of perpetual violence that borders on disaster pornography. The public preoccupation with derisive political discourse compels candidates to proclaim and validate baseless assertions of weakness. These are nothing new and not surprising.
But it is times like these when our national identity becomes a central focus. We are projecting an image of the paranoid authority and of a leadership willing to sacrifice meaningful discussion on the altar of mudslinging. Democracy in action.
Some facts surrounding the attacks in Libya are still unclear at this point. What is clear, however, is that Americans find themselves unaware of the larger truth and more politically combative than ever before.