Jon Stewart, thank you
I just watched last night’s episode of The Daily Show, and an amazing thing happened. You see, I’m used to watching interviews about national and international topics covered with the reporting aptitude of a fifth grader. The questions asked and topics broached are so incredibly forseeable. So rarely does it seem that today’s news media really takes advantage of the opportunities they’re given to provide meaningful discourse – or to strike a chord that really hits home and sticks with me after I’ve gone off and resumed my day-to-day tasks.
Last night Jon Stewart interviewed Ali Allawi, former Minister of Defense in Iraq. Most of the discussion was about his book, with the usual Jon Stewart comic interjections. At the end of the interview, Stewart did something I did not expect. He made a connection that I had totally, completely missed.
He described what most of our country is going through: grieving, mourning, and trying to cope with the tragedy that occured this week at Virginia Tech. He asked Allawi what it is like to live in a country where tragic, senseless massacres happen almost every day. My heart sank. A shiver shot down my spine. 230 people died yesterday from similar attacks. Two hundred and thirty. In one day.
A hundred thoughts raced through my head. Will Iraqi news agencies investigate the backgrounds of the perpetrators? Will they analyze their psyches? Their motivations? Their upbringing? Will there be profiles of the victims? Will there be Iraqis reading through them, cursing the heavens, as I did two days ago? Will anyone ask, “How could something like this happen?”
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t know how to end the violence in Iraq. I’m not assigning blame for that violence to us or anyone else. As for the 230 dead, and the question of how and why something like that can happen in the twenty-first century… I have no answer to that question either. That shouldn’t stop each and every one of us from asking it.