After NATO Strike Kills 8 Afghan Women, Pundits Still Wonder: Why Do They Hate Us?

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Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)

After NATO Strike Kills 8 Afghan Women, Pundits Still Wonder: Why Do They Hate Us?

The protests and violence in Egypt, Libya and Yemen have caused a notable uptick in media discussions about, as Newsweek's cover puts it, "Muslim Rage."

Part of the corporate media's job is to make sure real political grievances are mostly kept out of the discussion. It's a lot easier to talk about angry mobs and their peculiar religion than it is to acknowledge that maybe some of the anger has little to do with religion at all.

Take the news out of Afghanistan yesterday: A NATO airstrike killed eight women in the eastern province of Laghman who were out collecting firewood. This has happened before. And attacks that kill a lot of Afghans–whether accidental or not–tend to be covered the same way–quietly, and with a focus not on the killing but on the ramifications.

So yesterday if you logged into CommonDreams, you may have seen this headline:

NATO Airstrike in Afghanistan Kills 8 Women

Now look for the same news in the New York Times today (9/17/12). It's there–but the headline is this:

Karzai Denounces Coalition Over Airstrikes

The Times gave a clear sense of what was important: "Mr. Karzai’s condemnation was likely to rankle some Western officials…" the paper's Matthew Rosenberg explained, who went on to explain that

the confrontational tone of the statement was a sharp reminder of the acrimony that has often characterized relations between Mr. Karzai and his American benefactors.

In the Washington Post, the NATO airstrikes made the front page–sort of. Readers saw this headline at the website:

4 troops killed in southern Afghanistan insider attack

As you might have already guessed, the killings of Afghan women are a secondary news event:

Four U.S. troops were killed Sunday at a remote checkpoint in southern Afghanistan when a member of the Afghan security forces opened fire on them, military officials said. The attack brought to 51 the number of international troops shot dead by their Afghan partners this year. The insider attack came on the same day that NATO warplanes killed nine women gathering firewood in the mountains outside their village in an eastern province, according to local officials.

One has to wonder whether, absent the deaths of U.S. troops, the airstrike would have made the news at all.

Peter Hart

Peter Hart is the activism director at FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting). He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra, and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly" (Seven Stories Press, 2003).

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