This year marks the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks — a nightmare that continues to haunt our country. Unfortunately, while we mourn the victims of 9/11 without question, our selective eulogizing, which has since then proliferated, silences countless Iraqi and Afghan civilians who endured an unconscionable degree of anguish throughout the past decade.
Last week, every major news outlet dedicated some kind of segment to 9/11. Mainstream journalists from top networks discussed how news gathering has changed. Other stations highlighted families who have been able to move forward since then. These selections of sources and stories have, indeed, been informative, inspiring and important in helping heal the American people.
However, the palpable exclusion of Iraqi and Afghan families from most major U.S. media coverage prevents us from coming to grips with the reality of 9/11 and its impact on global warfare, counterterrorism policies and foreign relations.
According to conservative estimates from The Associated Press, civilian causalities in the Iraq and Afghanistan military operations are at least 35 times higher than the number of Americans killed in the attacks.
Most despicably, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, neither of which the U.N. Security Council approved, illustrate the irresponsibility of Washington officials. Their “heat of the moment” strategies left behind a trail of collapsed communities and impoverished people. Yet we rarely hear about those who have suffered from our bloated defense department.
There is no excuse for little coverage of Afghan or Iraqi perspectives on the war. We need to listen to Muslim families who have experienced discrimination because of our post-9/11 tendency to associate al-Qaida with all 1.5 billion subscribers of Islam.
The news seems to have exhausted its resources in narrating how 9/11 affected our nation. But when it routinely leaves out entire populations who have lost thousands of family members, resources and credibility, critical journalists fail to truly capture the essence of violent conflict. The voices of those whose homes serve as war boundaries deserve to be heard and become part of our national political discourse.
It is our duty as proponents of democracy and freedom to value all perspectives and experiences. To ignore voices that pose the risk of painting a more disturbing picture of U.S. hegemony is to only perpetuate the negative stereotype that Americans don’t care about what their country does.
Chris Zivalich is a senior journalism major. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org