CNN's Suzanne Malveaux wondered why there has not been more attention paid to the victims of an alleged massacre in Afghanistan by an American soldier.
Since the news of the massacre first broke last week, there has been article after article about Robert Bale, the soldier who allegedly carried out the horrific killings of 16 Afghan civilians. Reporters have combed through Bale's background, spoken to his family, and examined his mental state. But there has been nowhere near the same level of coverage of the victims or their families, even though their identities are known and some reporters have talked to their families.
On Monday, Malveaux examined this situation. "How much do we know about the 16 Afghan civilians who were massacred allegedly by a U.S. soldier?" she asked. "Not much."
She then brought on Dean Obeidallah, a writer and comedian who penned an opinion piece for CNN about the issue. "The U.S. media has treated the 16 victims as statistics, not human beings," one section read.
"Why do you suppose that the media, in general, we have not heard more about the victims in this case?" Malveaux asked him.
"We've heard them described as villagers and civilians," Obeidallah said. "But what about their names, their ages? ... Let's put a human face on this loss caused undisputedly by U.S. hands."
"Do you think it's possible that Americans see the Afghans as a whole as the enemy?" Malveaux said. "That people are not distinguishing the Afghan people from the extremists, from al Qaeda, from the Taliban?"
"I think that's one of the consequences of not learning about the other side," Obeidallah said. "It's very easy to demonize the other when they don't have a human face."
"Do you think that's racism?" Malveaux wondered. "Do you think that's just people who are focused on their own lives and they're not really paying attention to people who look different than themselves?"
"That's where we need the media to fill in that gap," Obeidallah said. "I don't think Americans are inherently racist, no,
but I think if they have no information to balance it, they're only going to see the negative."
Malveaux praised CNN's Sara Sidner for her reporting, but said, "clearly, it looks like more context and more profiles are needed."
One place that the names of all of the victims can be seen is on Al Jazeera's website, found here.
Scenes from Afghanistan in recent days. Warning: graphic images.
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