The Washington Post Magazine’s cover article is titled “Their War“, referencing the disconnect between the military and the civilian population in this Long War. There’s no denying the simple fact that a smaller percentage of the US population is actually fighting this war than in any previous war I can find stats to describe. I have no doubts that this fact is bothersome to many in the military, even as they hold to their position that a draft would be a serious mistake. I’m actually in the middle of the article right now but there’s been some things said in it that I simply have to expound on right now.
I do not believe that the author of the article, nor her editors, are to be considered authoritative enough to describe the feelings the average American has toward the military. The article paints a picture of a civilian populace that has no ability and no desire to connect with our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines.
In the outside world, civilians tend to use the word “warriors” only when they’re describing the fighting men of ancient or primitive cultures. But within the U.S. military establishment, “warriors” is a common form of address, even an e-mail salutation, as in this automatic message sent by a Marine public affairs officer: “Warriors, I will be out of the office until Monday.”
The difference in the way the two groups, military and civilian, use this word reflects the growing gulf that yawns between them.
The civilian world, according to the WashPoMag, has decided to forget that our military’s primary mission is to defeat the enemy, either by killing him outright or convincing him that it’s about to do so.
But these days, that part of the job apparently makes America’s civilians uneasy. World War II headlines celebrated accomplished military killers and called them heroes. Second Lt. Audie Murphy mowed down dozens of attacking German soldiers, won the Medal of Honor and went on to become a movie star. Today, U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who win medals for successfully doing their jobs while obeying the laws of war might get local coverage. But the brightest national spotlight is reserved for killers who are war criminals, such as the alleged perpetrators of the Haditha massacre, or heroes who are victims, such as prisoners of war. American civilians no longer seem comfortable labeling a soldier as both a killer and a hero.
In fact, they’re not particularly comfortable with the military in general.
First of all, whose fault is it that bona fide war heroes like Army Sgt. Paul Ray Smith, awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in 2003 wherein he saved the lives of over 100 of his fellow soldiers at the cost of his own life, are ignored by our media? The author of this piece, Kristin Henderson, and her editors need look no further than the closest mirror to determine why such heroes only get local coverage. They only get local coverage because our media chooses to ignore them and engage in hyper-coverage of war criminals, as though they are truly representative of our military men and women.
Secondly, says who that we civilians aren’t particularly comfortable with the military? Au contraire, madam and sirs. According the 2006 Harris Poll of such attitudes among Americans, the military was the most admired institution in America with 47% of us saying we have a “great deal” of confidence in them. Comparing that to “the press” which held such status with only 14% of us, and I find it hard to credit the conclusion that the public has trouble trusting the military.
I also have trouble with such sweeping inaccuracies as saying, “In the six years since [9-11], with America’s wars dragging on overseas, the military services have struggled to meet recruiting goals.” Put this way, it sounds like recruiting has been a problem for each of the past 6 years and that’s just not true. Last year the military met their recruiting goals for the year with 2 months to spare. They’ve had slow months, yes, but you can’t translate that into an implication that they’ve had trouble for 6 years, not if you want to be objective.
Which is the lurking suspicion I have with stories like these. Read it for yourself, and decide.
Update: I was under the impression that the author of the piece, Kristin Henderson, was an employee of the Post. That’s incorrect; she’s an author in her own right and is most certainly not a journalist of the kind I was blaming for the lack of coverage of true American military heroes. My apologies for lumping her in with them like that.
On the front page of this morning’s Washington Post a local blogger and his efforts are detailed in a story titled, “Muscling a Web Site Into a Social Movement.” (The author is Nick Miroff.)
While it’s pretty plain that the author and his editors don’t care much for Greg Leticq I can’t help but provide some mild applause for their handling of the topic of Greg and his Blog, Black Velvet Bruce Li. For the most part, they report accurately on BVBL and the topics presented there. I did have a few items of minor complaint:
First, as Greg himself mentioned on BVBL this morning, Greg has never actually called Faisal Gill a terrorist. You can read Greg’s clarification directly, and I suggest you go do that.
Second, I just love the Post making a condescending remark about a blog “making up in passion what it lacks in proof.” That’s said as if the Post weren’t guilty of the same behavior. (Pot, meet kettle.)
Third, and most importantly, I don’t agree with or approve of the Post’s attempts to conflate the issues people have with illegal “immigrants” with “a general unease about the large influx of Hispanic residents who have moved to the region in the past decade…” I’ve said repeatedly and so have most of the rest of the conservative blogosphere that I don’t have any issue at all with legal immigrants. I have a problem with illegals – Hispanic or otherwise – who “reside” here. Those issues are not interchangeable. I’d like to see our legal aliens make more efforts at assimilating into American culture, yes. I don’t have a “general unease” about them, so long as they adhere to the law.
All of that said, I want to be sure my assessment about this article isn’t lost or overlooked. If the Post’s treatment of him seemed a little slanted, it was only a teeny bit slanted. Any bias in this article was extremely mild and I found it close enough to being completely objective that it’s hardly worth arguing over. In fact, this is some of the best objective reporting I’ve read in a long time when the subject was something the Post normally treats with disdain. Well done, Mr. Miroff.
And well done, too, to Mr. Letiecq. I’m glad you’re here doing what you do. The community needs you.
It’s my sister’s birthday today. She’s *cough* years old now and I’ll be taking up my younger-brotherly duty of razzing the crap out of her later in the day. I just couldn’t let the day pass without commemorating it here for the ‘sphere.
Happy birthday, sis.
Via Instapundit, we have this wonderful tale of a group of less-than-brilliant crooks who decided to try to burglarize a police K-9 training facility. And when discovered on premise, in the act, by the entire K-9 unit and their dogs, these mental giants decided to run.
One of the crooks got to have an ambulance ride to the hospital to get treated for, “a superficial dog bite just below the buttocks.”
Good going, folks.