The Shifting Standard for Indiscriminate Killing

I was struck by the contrast between two passages I came across recently:

Misurata’s population is roughly 400,000. In nearly two months of war, only 257 people–including combatants–have died there. Of the 949 wounded, only 22–less than 3 percent–are women. If Gadhafi were indiscriminately targeting civilians, women would comprise about half the casualties.

–Alan J. Kuperman (Boston Globe, 4/14/11)

In a report to be published in tomorrow’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers have concluded that air strikes [in Iraq] by U.S.-led coalition forces have killed mostly women and children. Thirty-nine percent were children, while 46 percent were women.

–Jason Ditz (, 4/15/09)

After nearly two months of NATO bombardment, the Libyan government’s warfare in Misurata may have become more indiscriminate–a reminder of the often inhumane consequences of “humanitarian intervention.” But it’s striking to see what degree of violence against civilians is treated by U.S. corporate media as a compelling reason to take military action against an official enemy–compared to the much greater level of civilian killing that passes without much notice when it is committed by the United States itself.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.