When Mass Killings Aren’t ‘News’

The 24/7 coverage of the San Bernardino mass killing, perpetrated by a Muslim husband and wife, has alarmed and frightened Americans, but there is next to no mainstream interest in disclosures about far worse mayhem carried out by the U.S. government’s lethal drone program, writes David Swanson.

By David Swanson

We now know this. A young man who had successfully killed on a large scale went to his religious leader with doubts and was told that mass killing was part of God’s plan. The young man continued killing until he had participated in killing sprees that took 1,626 lives — men, women, and children.

I repeat: his death count was not the 16 or 9 or 22 lives that make top news stories, but 1,626 dead and mutilated bodies. Do such things bother you?

The MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft. (Photo credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Lt Col Leslie Pratt)

The MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft. (Photo credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Lt Col Leslie Pratt)

What if you learned that this young man’s name was Brandon Bryant, and that he killed as a drone pilot for the U.S. Air Force, and that he was presented with a certificate for his 1,626 kills and congratulated on a job well done by the United States of America? What if you learned that his religious leader was a Christian chaplain? Do such things still bother you?

What if you learned that most of the people killed by U.S. drones are civilians? That the pilots “double-tap,” meaning that they send a missile into a wedding party or a house and then wait for people to try to help the injured and send a second missile into them? That as a result one hears the injured screaming for hours until they die, as no one comes to help? That a drone pilot sent a missile into a group of children from which three children survived who recognized their dead brothers but had no idea that various pieces of flesh were what was left of their Mom and Dad and consequently cried out for those now gone-forever individuals? Is this troubling?

What if President Obama’s claim of few or no civilian deaths was proven false by well-documented reporting? And by the fact that most victims are targeted without even knowing their names?

What if a leading candidate for president in the past week were to both declare that the way to win a war is to start killing whole families, and stage a public Christian prayer session in order to win over a certain demographic of voters? Is that bothering?

What if it became clear that police officers in the United States have been murdering people at a higher rate than drone pilots? Would you want to see police videos of their killings? Would you want to see drone videos of their killings? We have thus far gained limited access to the former and none to the latter.

What if it were discovered that gun murders in San Bernardino are almost routine. Would they all be equally tragic?

My point is not to cease caring about the tragedy that the television stations tell you to care about. I wish everyone would care 1,000 times more, and even better do something to take away the guns and the hatred and the culture of violence and the economic injustice and the alienation.

My point is that there are other tragedies that go unmentioned, including larger ones. And exploiting one tragedy to fuel hatred toward a large segment of the human population of earth is madness.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. You can follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook. [This article first appeared at http://warisacrime.org/content/do-mass-killings-bother-you]

4 comments for “When Mass Killings Aren’t ‘News’

  1. Michael
    December 7, 2015 at 23:59

    The author undermines the point of the article. For instance, If you read the linked article about the drone pilot you realize he killed 13 people not 1000+ as was stated. That was done by multitude of other officers and it was not just he alone that was presented certificate.

    It’s this kind of spin that makes the entire site suspect of some subtle bias. You simple cannot state falsehoods to make your argument sound better while maintaining integrity. Did the author even read the linked article or just skim it and inaccurately sum it up? Very disappointed.

  2. dahoit
    December 4, 2015 at 16:14

    An obvious terrible comment by Trump is somewhat ameliorated by the fact we have actually been doing it for years,in every modern war we’ve dropped bombs on civilian populations.And even smart bombs don’t selectively cull the terrorists(freedom fighters?) from the civilians they co-habitate with.
    After San Bernardino,his numbers are probably skyrocketing.
    These people(shooters) sure aren’t helping their fellow Muslim victims of our terror activities worldwide eh?Very confusing,trying to get US to escalate.Almost conspiratorial,ha ha.Any writings left behind about motivation?Weird..

  3. John
    December 4, 2015 at 12:22

    Sickening to read about, even if you already have a vague sense of what’s going on.

    This made me ponder the significance of the fact that the attack in San Bernardino was so visible compared to all of the other violence mentioned. It’s true that terrorist attacks like that and Paris make people distrustful and hostile towards Muslims and outsiders, so it’s sure to hit the Syrian refugees hard. So consider:

    (1) The population of Syria includes a portion of people who serve that countries interests better by staying alive than by putting their lives on the line to fight for the country. These people include doctors, engineers, etc. It threatens the interventionist warmonger narrative that they’re “helping” the Syrians, if the Syrians who need help manage to help themselves by fleeing the violence.

    (2) The bought-and-paid-for terrorists attacking Syria are stymied if many civilians leave, because first they’re less capable of exploiting civilians as a provocation to manufacture outrage, and second because they’re stuck fighting a conventional battle against a trained military.

    Therefore, there’s a motive for making life difficult for refugees trying to leave the country, and high profile terrorist attacks serve that motive.

  4. December 4, 2015 at 11:52

    Thank you Mr. Swanson for this article. In the current situation I really can hear how xhenophobia is galloping here in Europe (and perhaps not only here in Europe, you can probably tell me more about the situation in the US) it is always nice to read something I fully agree with.

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