My hometown became a much safer place while I was honeymooning in Spain. Not that my violent criminal tendencies are such that their absence “moves the needle”, it just so happens that a horrific act of violence elsewhere put Springfield forward as a victim
instead of a purveyor of violence. Because one of the marines killed in the Tennessee recruiting station shooting was a native of the city, media coverage went wall to wall here from the details of the event to the arrival of the victim’s body by motorcade into the city, memorial services, and burial.
What went missing during the coverage of the aftermath of the Tennessee killings was reporting on such stories as “someone says they heard a gunshot” and “police hear loud noise while driving around and since real reporting takes time and costs money let’s say the noise was a gunshot” and “Shotspotter system activates but police find nothing during their investigation”(All actual stories which have been published in Springfield’s paper of record). After the final story on the Tennessee incident was published, about a small memorial concert at a local bar by the Dropkick Murphys, normal service resumed with a news item about a sleeping teenager found with a gun by Springfield police.
To my eyes we have two examples of systemic violence, one related to the so called war on drugs, and the other related to the so called war on terror; both misguided, both counterproductive. In the narrative on the everyday “battles” in the war on drugs there are only bad guys (unless an innocent bystander or a police officer is wounded) and so almost nothing is done to understand the motivation of the behaviors: they are evil doers who do evil because that’s what evil doers do. In the narrative of the war on terror we see the actions of the terrorists as coming from that same place of evil, and our motives, which is to say the motives of the military-industrial-complex, are examined only as far as the basic idea that “good” must stand up to “evil”.
There are 4 pages of reporting here from one news outlet on one marine who died in one incident in a struggle which has gone on for more than a dozen years and taken, at the very least, hundreds of thousands of lives around the world, and I am sure that you will not find a single word of real analysis of the root causes of the conflict. You can find hundreds upon hundreds of articles about drug wars, drug lords, and drug violence from just that one local news outlet about just one small American city, but, in much the same way, you will not find a single article on the root causes and the motivation for the violence.
I don’t find anyone in either scenario heroic. No American service member has done anything to “protect my freedom” since at least World War II, and the law enforcement officials waging the war on drugs put me more at risk with the violent response their war necessitates than the narcotics they are protecting me from ever could.