For the People Who Died

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The Palm Beach Post has created a nifty death-map of the United States, showing the hometowns of servicemen and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Scroll and zoom for more detail. Another reminder (to me, at least) that the next time some never-served tenured ponce writes a drum-rattling screed about the "decadent coastal enclaves," he should be sent on the next plane to a military funeral in Southern California. (Link via Drudge.)

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  1. the next time some never-served tenured ponce writes a drum-rattling screed about the “decadent coastal enclaves,”

    To be entirely fair to the ponce, many coastal enclaves seem under-represented proportional to their population on this map, while the Ohio Valley seems over-represented. Still, without some kind of correction for total population, its hard to say.

  2. “decadent coastal enclaves”? I don’t think that I get the reference.

  3. Clarification: I get what a ‘decadent coastal enclave’ is, I don’t know who said it or when

  4. blg — I’ve read variations on that theme (the unmartial wussiness of the coast-dwellers) by dozens of hawkish war-supporters over the last four years, including many professors. If you do Google searches on “decadent coastal,” or “coastal elite,” you’ll probably turn up a few.

  5. Well said, RDean. I’m really surprised, Matt, that you would be taken in by the visual. Notable is New York City, one of the huge red spots, which reports 29 deaths. Remember that NYC has a population of roughly 8 million…far more than most entire states. Not that it deserves to be called a “decadent coastal enclave,” mind you: I rather like my home town.

  6. blg: Try here. Fifth paragraph from the end.

    NB: He’s far from perfect, but I do read Sullivan daily.

  7. Looks to me like a pretty accurate map of the population distribution of the United States, i.e. there are more deaths in the bigger population centers than elsewhere. I don’t get the “Coastal Elite” slam either.

  8. I’d like to see nifty map showing towns in Iraq where U.S. soldiers have killed Iraqis.

  9. Call me irritable, but my only point is that my part of the country, which is routinely slandered for being some kind of pansy factory, certainly offers its fair share of Service. Maps like this don’t show that we’re special, but simply that we’re *not*. That’s all. Now, go play with the map, which was the only point of bringing this up.

  10. certainly offers its fair share of Service.

    Call me pedantic, but my only point was that the map shows no such thing, as it does not correct for total population.

    It sure looks to me like the coasts come in a little light, and what used to be called the heartland but is now more fashionably referred to as “flyover country” comes in a little heavy, but we can’t tell from this map.

  11. Fair point. The “Left Coast” is certainly not left out when it comes to lives given.

    On the other point, I should note that “decadent” is a word dull people use to describe interesting people. Therefore, I really take it as a compliment.

  12. Nah, looks like all those racist bastards in fly over country are both sucking us dry of government pork as well as letting the smart city folks in the US do all the dying for them.

  13. wow. Someone finally visualized whirled peas.

  14. I was going to offer a snarky defense of the heartland, but I remembered that I live next door to Kansas, the apotheosis of every negative red-state stereotype out there.

    BTW-When I was on active duty, Pennsylvanians made up the largest geographical group, followed by New Yorkers. Next was the Southern boys, and finally the Midwesterners. Since we were on the East Coast, there weren’t many Californians around.

  15. I’m with Dean, it’s hard to interpret. My town of Phoenix at 3.5 million looks like it’s contributed as much as LA. Meanwhile compare SF and Seattle. And Texas weighs in heavy.

    I’m not sure this map shows what you think it shows Matt, but of course calling SoCal a pansy factory (nice phrase though) would be pretty silly in any case.

  16. Here’s a map of the 2000 census, and it looks, to my eye, like deaths are evenly distributed relative to population, just as Matt suggested.

  17. Anyone care to take the time to figure the deaths by state, expressed as a percentage of total state population? There do appear to be some distortions here. E.G., Los Angeles: 20 deaths out of, what, 3.5 million (?) people vs. New York City: 29 deaths out of 8 million.

  18. I wrote about it here:

    http://crookedtimber.org/2005/07/01/not-so-different/

    In short, I found no significant relationship between a state’s Bush vote and its casualties in Iraq per capita. The state with the most casualties per capita was actually Vermont.

  19. Wow, 3 guys from my hometown of Anaheim. Granted, it’s got a pretty hefty population, but still sad to read.

    [sarcasm]At least I have that to throw in the faces of people when they call Southern Californians soft and self absorbed[/sarcasm].

    Question on methodology: What is considered someone’s “hometown”? Is mine Cairo (where I was born), Garden Grove (where I lived through 5th grade), Anaheim (where I lived after GG through the end of high school) or LA (where I live now)? People usually say their hometown is the city they lived in when they were 13 (forgot who said that), so I wonder what they picked for that.

  20. I hate to bring up all of the obvious problems with trying to attach anything approaching significance to this but I feel compelled to point out a few…

    1. With a population of roughly 293,000,000 people (Time Almanac for 2005), the distribution of some 1600 people is about 1 half of 1 millionth of a percent.

    Unlike an opinion poll, distribution of dead people from a larger population of say, all servicepersons serving in Iraq is statistically meaningless as it fails to acknowledge the larger set (of servicepersons) or any other factors.

    i.e.,

    a) is the larger set of servicepersons serving in Iraq distributed in a similar pattern.

    b) does the current distribution corelate to hazardous jobs taken by those people.

    c) does anything indicate educational, cultural or intelligence factors?

    d) is training a factor?

    If it says anything at all, it says exactly what it should say…that the cost of this war is spread out across this country – by a lot of different types of folks.

    And if you’re the type of person to worry that your region is more patriotic (or other’s less patriotic) because more folks from your area are dead, well, you’ve got a pretty sad view of things from this Florida redneck’s perspective.

    This isn’t a football game. There’s a tragic irony here, when the United States trades the “United” part for a sick sort of regional one-upmanship.

  21. Just for fun, I did Wyoming and Nebraska to compare with my beloved decadent enclaves of NYC & LA. Assuming I didn’t count dots wrong…

    Wyoming: 7 deaths @ .5 mln pop = 14 dead/mln
    Nebraska: 17 @ 1.7 mln pop = 10 dead/mln
    Los Angeles: 20 @ 3.5 mln pop = 5.7 dead/mln
    New York City: 29 @ 8 mln pop = 3.6 dead/mln

    Also assuming my math & pop figures are right!

  22. Some of you make it sound like visual representations of data are inherently deceptive. …As if most of us don’t already have a pretty clear picture of how our population is distributed.

    …If Matt’s point was that deaths appear to be distributed relative to population rather than geography, well, I think he made that point with the first map. …Now that I think of it, I wish I hadn’t linked to that Census Bureau map–it’s superfluous.

    Don’t believe the hype. Most Californians aren’t anything like the stereotypes–that’s just political propaganda. …So tonight, when you’re ‘possum eatin’, baby-makin’ or ridin’ around drunk in a pick-up truck, instead of hatin’ on lattes, think about that.

  23. This isn’t a football game. There’s a tragic irony here, when the United States trades the “United” part for a sick sort of regional one-upmanship.

    Well said, madpad! The key word in my last post is “dead.” Taking into account your criticisms, and great closing observation, one wonders why the author of this graphic created it, unless fostering regional one-upmanship was his goal all along.

  24. Most Californians aren’t anything like the stereotypes–that’s just political propaganda

    Ken,
    From my experience, the people that act the most like stereotypical Californians are the transplants (note: I am not hating on all transplants, but this is an observation). My current working theory is that assholes in other parts of the country have a idea of what a Californian is like and they think, “Hey, I can go out there, be a superficial asshole and I’ll fit right in,” or “I’m exceedingly wierd and freakish, I’ll go to California with my fellow freaks,” or (my favorite) “I won my county beauty pagaent and was in the school play, now I can be the next Katie Holmes (and ends up waiting tables, tending bar or stripping).” Most of us locals are perfectly normal Americans.

    [irony]Damn immigrants, ruining it for all the rest of us[/irony]

  25. Take a look at Tracy, California (I used to live there). There have been 4 deaths in Iraq, from a town of 70,000. To use JMoore’s metric, that’s 57 deaths per million, or about 10 times as many as L.A.

    What does it all mean? I have no idea. But it’s interesting.

  26. What a great song, though.

  27. Thanx for the support, JMoore.

    As for the goal of the map in the first place, I don’t know.

    I can think of plenty of reasons for this info if for no other purpose than to illuminate the cost of the war. The editors did a good job of making those little dots very human by including a lot of little things. Taken at face value, the map is probably a useful – if not noble – thing.

    Info is simply info and since the Editor’s note gives no indication of the motive, I don’t want to assume anything.

    But it is perhaps inevitable that someone will use the info to try to draw some crass (but utterly meaningless) point one way or another.

    And THAT’S the guy we should all pounce on.

  28. There are probably a couple of things at work here.

    For one, it’s the old, “The Asian population of Lost Holler, West Virginia was up 300% last year!” phenomenon. …which means that the divorced Asian in Lost Holler reunited with his wife and two kids.

    …If two fewer people in Wyoming had died, the death rate there would have dropped a whopping 40%!

    The second factor may be that people in Los Angeles, when they hit the typical recruitment age, tend to find that they have more and better opportunities than people in Wyoming and Nebraska.

    Does any of this change the fact that the map Matt pointed us to shows that the number of dead has been a function of population more so than geography?

    …No, it doesn’t.

  29. You’re absolutely dead on Mo.

    The AYSO started in LA’s South Bay, and I suspect its strongest cells are still located here. That’s right, it’s Soccer/Security Mom Central.

    If we compared the results of a political survey of AYSO active parents in Los Angeles to the results of the same questionnaire given to people in the Bible Belt, I’d be they’d be virtually indistinguishable.

  30. Question on methodology: What is considered someone’s “hometown”?

    I assume (yeah, yeah, I know), due to my service, that they used the servicemembers’ “home of record” which they are required to put down on entry into the Armed Forces. It can be changed mind you, and I have known some servicemembers to do so for various reasons, but most use the town they left to join the service.

    As for the rest of it, I agree with Matt’s larger point, that CA & NY aren’t pansy mills, as I agree that AL & TN don’t have lots of sibling weddings either (although it’s always good for a joke).

  31. One additional thing noticable on the map – some of the towns with higher numbers are close or on top of Army Bases (Colorado Springs, CO, El Paso, TX) possibly attributed to soliders changing “home of record.”

  32. Matt et. al.: Thanks for the clarification … that helped.

    In terms of statistics, I’ve heard other numbers-based discussions regarding the war with Iraq. I won’t call them justifications, but, maybe, pacifications … or marginalizations. My most (i.e. least) favorite runs something like this: ‘I don’t know why people are so wound up about the 1700 soldiers that have died in Iraq. Heck, more people than that die in Detroit in the same amount of time.’ To this argument, I can only respond ‘huh?’. I suppose the gist of this is that the American deaths caused by our war are ‘in the noise’, as they say. Not to mention the number of widows, widowers, orphans and grieving parents left behind, because, heck, I can find number even more disgusting than the war death figures (and only the AMERICAN dead figures, thank you, because everyone else, including dead the Iraqi civilians, apparently just don’t count).

    In the end, all I can say is that this war is not about numbers or figures or percentages or ratios or any other method of reducing raw unadulterated human absolutes down to dehumanized relatives. It’s about people getting dead (lots and lots of people) for a cause that you either stand up for or do not stand up for. I for one (you may be able to tell this) do not stand up for this cause because I can find no reason TO stand up for it. No security reason, no ethical reason, no moral reason, and certainly no constitutional reason, and no amount of data manipulation is going to change that. As for me, I say 1 part in 6 billion is too many.

  33. This site has far more information on this subject and is update quickly:

    http://icasualties.org/oif/default.aspx

  34. I’m with madpad. 1600 deaths over 50 states is too small a sample to draw meaningful conclusions about, well, anything regarding those states.

    Let’s hope that the number of deaths doesn’t reach the point where we might actually be able to draw statistically significant conclusions. Because if the body count does reach that point, well, let’s be honest: One-upmanship will be the least of our worries. There will be enough tragedy to go around. Hell, there already is.

    (And that isn’t a comment on the merits of the war, just a comment on the sad loss of life.)

  35. Oh, as long as we’re talking about regional comparisons:

    Having arrived in MD a few days ago, I find myself saying “This isn’t like Santa Barbara. That isn’t like Santa Barbara.” It used to be “This isn’t like Milwaukee. That isn’t like Milwaukee.”

    One thing I notice is that customer service isn’t as good out here. I wouldn’t say it’s bad, but there is a noticeable difference. Whether you think that reflects negatively on the service here or positively on the service in CA, there is most definitely a difference. Even Enterprise Rent A Car is less friendly out here, and I thought their whole schtick was their service.

    Also, you’ll be relieved to know that, to protect our national security, my Leatherman Tool was kept in a guard’s custody while I obtained my NIH ID badge. Once I left the administrative building I was allowed to take my weapon with me, to do whatever I might wish in the research laboratories.

    Great scientists here, but the administrative system is what you’d expect, more or less.

    And they assure me that my badge should work in the electronic reader that admits me into the building in, oh, a week or so.

  36. thoreau,

    I grew up just outside of Laurel, and I went to grade school in Beltsville.

    …My folks moved to San Diego while I was in boarding school, and when I followed them out after graduation, I couldn’t believe how rude people were, relatively speaking. People don’t expect a culture shock moving from California to the Mid-Atlantic (You’ll be callin’ it the South soon enough.) or vice versa, but it’s huge!

    Of course, I’m probably comparing the service to what I get in LA, where I am now–where they put up bullet proof glass ostensibly to protect the people that work there but really to protect the customers from the staff. I’m sure things were better in Santa Barbara.

    You’ll love it in Maryland and D.C. …eventually. It’s supposed to take about a year.

    P.S. …And I thought NIH was supposed to be the best run agency of the federal government! I suppose the security department in any building, public or private, only gets so efficient. I wouldn’t expect much more out of some of the guys in some of the buildings I’ve worked in.

  37. Thoreau, you should come down to Richmond, we’ve got alot of history, and the crack, oh the crack. Best on the east coast.

  38. Thoreau, you need to spend your free time on the other side of the river, over here in Northern Virginia. It’s like a blue-state oasis in an otherwise red state in terms of culture, but it’s also not burdened by as many nanny-stateisms as Maryland. (Not only can you carry concealed in Va., you can carry open.)

    You’ll never, never, never get used to the traffic, though. I’ve been down here 5 years now (from Cleveland), and I still curse it with every breath. Thursday night, we went to see the Indians play Baltimore. We left NoVa to make the 40-mile trip at 4:15, and just made first pitch at 7:05. Insane.

  39. Where does Andrew Sullivan have tenure?

  40. people^Wlibertarians are so nationalistic^Wterritorial!

  41. some of the towns with higher numbers are close or on top of Army Bases (Colorado Springs, CO, El Paso, TX) possibly attributed to soliders changing “home of record.”

    Thanks SixSigma. That was actually why I was wondering what the home of record was based off of. That the hometown isn’t something like high school, but rather last or base address makes this less meaningful. Not that it matters because madpad is right, on all counts.

  42. Mo,

    You are so right about the transplants. I’ve lived in California my entire life, and I’m pleading with the rest of America: Keep your assholes at home! I prefer the Mexican immigrants to the transplants by far. I so hate the “Oh, I hated Ohio, so I came to San Francisco” types. They often have a fake California accent and are so freaking lame. (Of course, I know some good transplants, but they’ve been here so long that they’ve become real Californians.)

  43. I swear 3/4 of the Air Force is from Ohio and Pennsylvania.

    And the entire DC Metro Area can collapse into a sinkhole to be forgotten, as far as I’m concerned. Southeastern Virginia’s the only area worth living in.

    Also, your home of record is based off the town you left prior to joining the service. I don’t know whether this map uses that data or the person’s legal residence. Most people don’t bother changing their home of record unless they’re getting out and want their stuff shipped for free to a different address. If you retire, you get a free shipment to any place of your choosing. Most people are more concerned with changing their State residency to a State with no (or low) income taxes.

  44. For each and every “decadent coastal enclaves” comment I ever read, I always seemed to hear the opposite “US Soldiers are nothing but a buncha gun-nut, HS-dropout, hicks anyways”. Guess this puts a damper on both sides.

  45. http://www.legacy.com/palmbeachpost/Soldiers.asp

    is a nice tribute site where you can remember those soldiers who have fallen.

  46. How about doing Ted Barlow’s comparison again, but by county, instead of state?

    Illinois is a Blue state, but looking at the lists of deaths, it looks like the deaths in Iraq have hit the (mostly-Republican) suburbs harder than the city.

    I was surprised to see that Naperville, a farily well-off area, has has almost as many people killed as Chicago.

  47. The map is pretty worthless because it doesn’t reflect the populations of the states versus numbers of casualties. I would guess that there are more people in the tri-state area of NY, NJ and Conn, than in all of the Rocky Mountain states combined. Just because a thinly populated state like Nevada or Utah has fewer deaths doesn’t mean that the people there are not voulunteering in higher proportions than New Yorkers.

  48. Really, Ironchef? That’s terrible.

    Matt Welch, and others, have provided numerous examples of people referring to “decadent coastal enclaves” in some fairly well respected conservative outlets.

    No doubt, you will provide us with similar examples of liberal media describing American troops in the terms you describe.

    Or maybe the handful of idiots you “hear” saying such things aren’t actually the equivalent of well known writers and editors publishing them in the national media.

  49. RE: California transplants – the real downside is that while SoCal is boot camp for californicated assholes, they get deployed to Arizona.

  50. Did we really need a fuckin’ “nifty map” to tell us that, yes, people on the coasts fight and die right along side with everyone else? Seriously, what kind of mental midget actually needs this sort of quasi-evidence?

    Goddamn, but sometimes a few of you people can be some of the most pedantic, ridiculous, obnoxiously holier-than-thou painsintheass.

    Perhaps I’m getting way too emotional here (I suspect there’s an excellent chance of that, BTW), but … fuck it.

  51. I have a hard time understanding the sense of tragedy in the death of American soldiers. What do you expect when you invade and occupy a country? They’re killers, pure and simple. Killers often get killed.

  52. Jeremy —

    Someday you’re going to die.

    This will be neither unusual nor unexpected. But it will probably make someone sad anyway. Probably.

  53. I’ll be sad for Jeremy.

    …Heck, I’m sad for him already!

  54. Are you sad for all the Iraqis American soldiers have killed?

  55. My understanding is that improved field medicine has heavily altered the ratio of dead to wounded. To see actual casualties (what about the soldiers who are now crippled for life?) represented on a map might be more informative, providing a more statistically useful sample, if we’re really talking about this war’s true cost in American blood.

    Iraqi blood’s cheaper, of course.

  56. They often have a fake California accent and are so freaking lame.

    What does a fake (or real, for that matter) California accent sound like?

  57. I wonder how the map corresponds to average wealth of a place.

    Do proportionally fewer soldiers die from wealthier areas? Perhaps death distribution is more correlated with money than with redness or blueness of a region.

  58. I’m not buying it. I don’t think the map does anything to disprove the obvious fact that the coasts are decadent enclaves. Just like it doesn’t disprove the fact that more siblings in Alabama marry than in California. Of course, that just might be because a higher percentage of people born in decadent California are bastards, so the birth cirtificates don’t identify them as half-siblings when the marry.

    Hard to tell.

    *joking all you uptight Californians trying to prove you have some morals and a few patriots — always about self image with you isn’t it*

  59. “Did we really need a fuckin’ “nifty map” to tell us that, yes, people on the coasts fight and die right along side with everyone else?”

    Sadly, yes. Real red state Americans like, um, Jonah Goldbern and Rich Lowry have spent the years since September 11 accusing people from states that vote for Democrats of being cowardly, unpatriotic, and letting their “flyover country” countrymen do their working, fighting, and dying for them.

  60. It’s not normal for me, but I’m really OK with the deaths of Iraqi’s like Uday and Qusay Hussein. Not depressing at all.

  61. Is there one of these fancy maps for US combat deaths from WWII?

  62. Something that struck me as odd – the green 1-person dots in my area are mostly pegged to affluent suburbs (with only the very large cities having more than 1 death). Some of the less-affluent towns of comparable size to the wealthier suburbs surrounding the major cities are not on the map at all. This is pretty much the opposite of what I would have expected – does this hold true for anybody else’s metro area? BTW, I’m in the DFW Texas area.

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