In the last few days, reports appeared about how the Pulitzer committee awarded their prestigious prize to topics like the luxury bordello scandals involving elected officials, Thomas Jefferson's various mistresses, and international sex trafficking, among others. No doubt these subjects are important and sizzle in the public mind, yet something feels missing--a shoe lace untied, a hole worn through a pocket by a house key, or that war lasting more than 7 years now.
The Pulitzer committee grants awards for socially redeeming art, beautiful music, or fine writing that pierces the veil of deception in high places. Plenty of journalists and writers have accomplished this on the subject of Operation Iraqi Freedom, focusing not on the sizzling sex scandals but on the more primitive forms of brutality and rape in the chaos of a destroyed country. Does this explain why the war topic was passed over this year, the seventh of a long war?
The Pulitzer was founded on values of professional journalism and artistic merit. Has it turned its eyes to new, more important subjects than the U.S. invasion of another country? If you consider how mainstream media and journalism have botched so many opportunities to pierce the veil of high-power deception, you'll not be surprised that a prestigious prize for journalism shows a lack of interest in Iraq, war, soldiers and civilians dying. After all, how many newspapers, or congressmen for that matter, risked dissent from the W administration during the wake of the hyped-up, politically exploited, hysterical 9/11 reaction? Plenty of novels and nonfiction books criticized the war and risked public outrage and the lethal label of "un-American" during the period when the native authority of W and Cheney commanded support for their own cleverly crafted, massive destruction and public deception.
In this sense, the Iraq war took place more right here in the U.S. than in the bombing missions and in the Humvees where blood spills out to this day. Perhaps Americans at home just don't have the stomach to think of the war anymore--though the war was, and still is, fundamentally right here at home. The battleground is in the American political arena. Now more than ever, this becomes clear as the reports pile up to prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that the war was planned long before the causus belli--the justification and the opportunity that presented itself in the form of the 9/11 attack.
America's political system failed--and so did its journalism. Collectively, reflecting our country's culture, we Americans wanted to find a fast solution to an otherwise complicated situation. Suddenly faced with difficult decisions and questions, we clung tightly to our Bibles, searching for quick answers and whispering curses to the Muslims in a "crusade," as W often called it. We did not want to analyze the facts before we reacted. We wanted to follow a leader, regardless of how nefarious and duplicitous the power brokers played their hand in a twisted plan. Ironically, these officials, W and Cheney, were not even elected officials, rather just appointed hastily by a small group of extremists at the Supreme Court. This is why the real battleground has always been right here at home.
It began as a struggle for the power to impose an ideological belief on a democracy. By grasping the power to command, the extreme American ideologues overreacted, waged a war of political passion, and thus fulfilled the greatest wishes, plans, and prayers of the likes of Osama bin Laden. So, a nonfiction book, and especially a novel about the war, might best be situated at home, not in the smoking battlegrounds where the bombs explode. This war is all about political ideology that affects every aspect of American culture and economics. This war is not about WMDs, not about a brutal tryant, not about evil terrorists, and not about the security of our nation.