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The New Ordinary

At the Plank, Michael Crowley notes the violence mentioned in yesterday's New York Times dispatch from Iraq, calling the litany "as astonishing as it is soul-crushing."

You can click through to read the long excerpt. Here are some snippets:

"two pedestrians wearing vests made of explosives blew themselves up"
"a hidden bomb was detonated nearby, adding to the carnage"
"gunmen ambushed a bus carrying Shiite mourners"
"The gunmen pulled 10 people from the bus and executed them"
"gunmen ambushed another bus, killing one person and wounding five"
"Two mortar grenades hit a Shiite mosque in Dawra, killing 9 and wounding 11 civilians"
"a family of five--a father, mother, grown daughter and two teenage sons--were found beheaded"
"four car bombs around Baghdad killed at least 7 people and wounded at least 18"
"Gunmen raided a company's offices…killing three employees and wounding three"
"five bodies were discovered early Tuesday in Jihad"
"a time bomb exploded in the clinic of Ameera al-Rubaie"
"Dr. Rubaie, a gynecologist, was killed and four of her patients were wounded"
"the mayor of the Um Al Nawa district was assassinated by gunmen"
"In the Shiite holy city of Karbala, a drive-by shooting killed two workers"
"An engineer and his bodyguard were assassinated on their way to work"
"A car bomb in Mosul killed two people and wounded four"

The list above paints a stark picture of the widespread, and horrific, violence that continues in Iraq. The war certainly continues to get media coverage, but rarely do we see the horror of the situation on the ground in such detail. Often we don't get much more than passing mentions akin to the headline on the Times piece – "Wave of Violence in Baghdad Puts 3-Day Death Toll Past 100" – and big, broad stories that skip over details. We know things are bad, sure, but the stories don't make all that much of an impact. It's hard not to wonder if we've reached a point of "Iraq fatigue" where it takes acts of massive destruction or U.S. casualties to garner serious media attention. Especially when these horrific acts are happening in a country in which the security situation directly impacts when and whether American troops will be able to come home.

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There is another point to consider here. The bombing in Mumbai, to take but one example, has not gotten much coverage in the US media beyond the initial flurry, despite its significance. Can we now say that the growing list of terrorist acts in recent years -- 9/11, Madrid, London, to name but a few – have blurred into normalcy? Such a mental shift may be inevitable in light of the horror and war that the world has faced in recent years. But it's worth pausing to consider that we seem to be moving towards a situation in which we view world events as we might a violent movie – dimly aware of each individual death, but not terribly affected, thanks to the desensitizing regularity with which we absorb them.

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