Comforting the Comfortable

Much hay has been made over the weekend about how Bush’s fantasy world contrasts with reality; how he’s constructed an entire place where everything is as he says it is, and any contrasting statement, however mild, constitutes an attack not only on the facts but on the foundation of that reality.

But guys, seriously, it’s not just Bush:

It’s just a statistic, but it carries deep emotions for some readers. The Times-Union has been running the total number of deaths of the U.S. military in the Iraq war. The box runs inside the paper, about A-11, on days that a U.S. military death occurs. Not included are Iraqi deaths or civilian deaths or the deaths in the war in Afghanistan.


So I asked our E-Mail Interactive Group for their comments. The thoughtfulness of the nearly 300 responses was impressive, coming in the middle of a tropical storm. I have included a few comments in this column, which don’t do justice to the sophistication of the responses. For longer excerpts, go to and insert keyword, Reader Mall.


“We, the public, have no reason to know the daily death tolls. It is demoralizing and anti-American. If anything is reported about a war, it should be positive information, not negative.” — Verne Foster, Oceanway.

Read all those comments, though they’ll make you want to scream. Read them and sit back in absolute disgust, as I did, at the attitude that “I don’t want reality.” These people would literally rather have a lie than the truth if the lie makes them happier.

And until lately, nobody’s been willing to say to them what they desperately need to hear:

Guess what, Mr. Foster?

I don’t care if the story of the dead doesn’t make you happy.

It’s true.

And you need to know it.

I don’t care if the pictures of the president scowling and stammering and screwing up don’t make you happy.

They’re real.

And you need to see them.

We live in a representative democracy and part of your responsibility is to seek out truth and knowledge and apply them to the world around you. That you don’ wanna is not a reason, and it’s barely even an excuse. You want to call yourself an American? You know what that means? It means you don’t get to close your eyes and stuff your head up your own arse and hum so that you can’t hear what’s going on around you. You don’t get to make a story go away because you don’t like the story. The story’s fucking true, and in the fight between what you want and what is true, what is true has to, simply has to win.

There has got to be a point in this country where we stop this nonsense. Where we give people what they need to hear, not what they want. There has got to be some point where we say, the overwhelming evidence of reality trumps your need to be cosseted and comfortable.

And as a side note, how thin are the threads that suspend your belief in the justice of this war if they cannot hold up a simple number, in the back of the paper, once each day?

From the reaction the Florida paper’s getting, you would think its writers asked people to be part of that number, instead of just looking at it.

What a miserable country we are, when we ask others to sacrifice, but not to tell us about it, because that would upset us too much.