It’s no secret that
most of the mainstream US media was against the Bush administration’s invasion
of Iraq and, even during the brief combat phase, was already calling it a
“quagmire.” Since the declaration that major combat had ended in May, every
single casualty has been reported. The implied message is that we should
get out of Iraq, that our mission there is foolhardy and wasteful of our
On Saturday, October 18, when the Newark, NJ Star-Ledger, the largest
circulation daily in the State, led page one with the headline “Postwar Iraq
GI death toll passes 100,” I was reminded that, on the previous day, the
Essex County edition had a story that reported, “So far this year, 65 people
have been slain in Newark, sometimes in spurts as in the one beginning October
3 when four people were killed and eight injured by gunshots or stab wounds
during a 32-hour period.”
Does it seem to you that, statistically, your life is at greater risk in
Newark, NJ than downtown Baghdad or Basra? Now Essex is just one of twenty-one
New Jersey counties and you can be pretty sure that, in my State alone, more
people have been shot, stabbed and beaten to death than the entire US military
currently engaged in some serious fighting in Iraq. And that’s just from
January of this year.
But let’s not restrict ourselves to New Jersey. As your local newspaper or
television news reports each US combat loss in Iraq, a nation the size of
California, back in May when the major combat phase was over, the police
in Phoenix, Arizona, were puzzling over why the homicide rate there was up
67% over the previous year. By May, 105 citizens had met violent deaths.
By August, New Orleans had chalked up 150 homicides and that isn’t even counting
the rest of Louisiana. Only 146 US soldiers had died in the brief period
of combat that led to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. If the current rate
of corpses keeps piling up in the Crescent City, law enforcement authorities
there think it will be on track to become the nation’s murder capitol for
the first time since way back in 1964.
While the news media keep reminding us that we are, indeed, suffering losses
in Iraq due to cowardly and murderous former supporters of Saddam Hussein,
plus all kinds of al Qaeda riff-raff, with who-knows-how-many Iranian provocateurs,
the murder rate in Philadelphia, by early August, was up 23% with -- are
you ready for this -- 198 killed. At that pace, by the end of 2003, the city
will experience 337 murders. Across the nation in Oakland, California, that
city was marking its 76 murders as of late August.
And in Washington, DC, our nation’s capital and workplace of so many Democrat
politicians eager to denounce the President, by June the District had reclaimed
its status as the murder capital of the United States. According to FBI statistics,
the city had a higher homicide rate than any other city in the nation with
more than 500,000 residents.
Yes, dear reader, statistically you have a better chance of being shot to
death in Washington, DC than in Baghdad. So, the next time your local daily
or nightly TV news trumpets the number of US battle casualties in Iraq, you
should probably give some thought to wearing a bulletproof vest if you plan
to visit the Lincoln Memorial.
Alan Caruba is the author of Warning Signs, published by Merril Press. His weekly commentaries are posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center.