Friday, 3 July 2009

In death we are all equal?

The front page of the times today carried a picture of Lt Colonel Rupert Thorneloe next to the headline "British commander is killed by taliban bomb". Alongside this, every single bulletin has lead with the story of his death. Mentioned briefly as an afterthought, the simultaneous death of trooper Joshua Hammond.

It surprises even a cynic like me that the press could be so nakedly elitist in its coverage. Any journalist coming across the story must surely have been aware of the pitfalls here. Two men, one an important officer and a commanding officer, the other a regular squaddie die at the same time. They both leave behind grieving relatives and friends, to whom they are equally important. Despite their different lives and statuses they both gave their lives fighting in a war ordered by their political masters.

Yet Lt Colonel Thornoloe gets tributes from the Prince of Wales, front page newspaper coverage, lead articles of the main evening news. The death of a trooper generates just a footnote, an illustration of how littlle our country cares for its soldiers, both living and dead.

(this even before we consider the complete lack of personalisation that ever occurs when an Afghan, civilian or combatant, dies)

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