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I Lost My Brother On 9-11;

by By David Potorti Friday, Oct. 12, 2001 at 12:32 PM

The author's brother died at the World Trade Center on 9-11 and reviewing coverage in the mainstream media, he finds that how a topic is framed decides everything...

I Lost My Brother On 9-11;

Does He Matter?

By David Potorti


Article Dated 10/10/2001

[Ed's note: On Tuesday, September 11, the

writer lost his brother, James Potorti, at the

World Trade Center. James worked on the

96th Floor of the first tower for a company

called Marsh & McLennan.]

On October 8th, as most Americans rose

concerned and curious about the military

action taking place on the other side of the

globe, NPR's Morning Edition host

Bob Edwards asked Cokie Roberts to

weigh in. "Leaders of Congress were

quick to issue a statement in support of

the military action in Afghanistan," he said.

"Were there any dissenters?" "None that

matter," she replied.

It's a jaw-dropping statement when you think

about it, one that says nothing and yet says

everything. There was opposition to the

bombing. But how much? From whom?

But before you go demanding simple facts

or objective reportage, let's cut to the chase:

it doesn't matter.

It's an opinion unlikely to be shared by

California Representative Barbara Lee, the

only member of Congress brave enough to

vote her conscience in declining to authorize

the use of military force. Or to other members

of Congress who expressed similar concerns.

Do they matter? To countless Americans who

share their concerns, they do. But in a larger

sense, of course, Roberts is right.

In a media universe where you're as likely to

find right-wing conservatives like Roberts

(or Juan Williams, or Maura Liasson, or...)

on ABC, Fox, or NPR, the facts don't matter;

only the framing. And in the hands of biased

pundits posing as objective journalists, the

framing is always going to be the same:

pro-military, pro-government, and pro-war.

Still, Roberts may have done us a favor with

her comment. Those three little words tell us

worlds about the values informing the

operation of U.S. intelligence, the

State Department, and the Pentagon.

Understanding those words may bring us

some much-needed clarity on U.S. policies

seemingly at odds with U.S. values.

Have sanctions against Iraq have killed

more than 500,000 innocent children?

None that matter. Did bombing Yugoslavia

kill more civilians than soldiers? None that

matter. Did lobbing cruise missiles at a

Sudanese pharmaceutical factory result in

the deaths of medicine-starved civilians?

None that matter.

The phrase is useful for understanding

domestic policies as well. At the Koyoto

summit, did any significant criticisms of

U.S. energy policies emerge? None that

matter. Has the U.S. stance on eliminating

the ABM treaty produced any significant

concerns from the rest of the civilized

world? None that matter. Has U.S. reliance

on the death penalty inflicted any damages

on our moral authority? None that matter.

It's equally handy at explaining our current

crisis. Are the militaristic responses to the

terrorist attacks likely to endanger the lives

of more American civilians? None that matter.

Will the war on terrorism endanger the civil

liberties of Americans at home? None that

matter. Will bombing Afghanistan cause any

significant improvements in the lot of the

innocent Afghan people? None that matter.

And let's not forget: it's a handy phrase you

can use at home as well. Will network news

divisions, owned by defense contractors,

give us any useful insights into the workings

of the U.S. military? None that matter. Will you

hear any coherent news reports from outside

of a narrow, statist perspective? None that

matter. And are there any mainstream media

outlets willing to criticize U.S. foreign policy?

None that matter.

Thanks, Cokie. By telling us it doesn't matter,

you've done more than express your biased

political opinion. You've explained the arrogant,

provincial, and value-free attitudes at work

behind American foreign policy. And you've

also given us valuable insight into the mindset

of the terrorists behind the events of September 11.

Won't innocent American civilians die in the

attacks? None that matter. Won't Islam be

defamed in the eyes of other nations? None

that matter. And, in the end, are the attacks

likely to achieve much-needed changes in

U.S. foreign policy? None that matter.

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