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|Needless Commentary from Small-Town America|
The Weblog at The View from the Core - Fri. 04/30/04 07:22:04 AM
Fallen Warrior: Dumb Jock?
Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode CCLXXXII
Former pro-football player Pat Tillman was killed in action in Afghanistan where he was deployed as an Army Ranger. Requiescat in pace.
Some Democrats have found this to be a cause for derision.
First, Ben Shapiro reports at TownHall, Apr. 28.
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What would you call Pat Tillman, the former Arizona Cardinal football player killed in Afghanistan? A hero? An inspiring example of American military men and women? A model of principled strength?
How about a "dumb jock"? A "baby killer"? A "dumb-a--"? A victim of "brainwashing"?
If you were a regular reader of Indymedia.org, odds are that you'd put him in the latter group. You'd think that Pat Tillman was a boob, a complete dimwit at best you might even believe that Pat Tillman was an evil person and deserved what he got.
Indymedia.org has 50 local chapters in the United States. Forty-four of them made no mention of Pat Tillman's death. The other six celebrated it.
The Portland, Ore., chapter of Indymedia.org posted the news of Tillman's death accompanied by this headline: "Dumb Jock Killed in Afghanistan." Some who posted comments suggested alternate titles for the piece, like "Privileged Millionaire, Blinded by Nationalist Mythology, Pisses Away the Good Life," "Cottled Sports Star Allows Nationalism to Foster Jingoistic Irresponsibility Resulting in His Death," and "Capitalist Chooses to Kill Innocents Instead of Cashing Check."
Others made comments on the site comparing Tillman to a Nazi and accusing him of responsibility for "the deaths of hundreds, maybe thousands of Afghan civilians." "Karma sure is a b----, isn't it, Tillman?" one sneered.
The Urbana-Champaign, Ill., chapter of Indymedia.org posted two articles about Tillman. One carried the headline "Pat Tillman is gone good riddance." The other labeled all soldiers "dumb-a--(es)."
The North Carolina Indymedia chapter also posted a piece labeling soldiers like Tillman "dumb-a--(es)" and added that Tillman was killed during a "baby-killing raid." San Francisco Indymedia posted the same piece. St. Louis Indymedia stated that Tillman was "brainwashed by the 'patriotism.'"
One commenter on the Washington, D.C., Indymedia site wrote this: "I saw the Post this morning, on the front page. It was sickening. They built this guy up like he was Audie Murphy or something, publishing this foto of him in his Ranger getup, all tough-looking and stony-jawed, like a goddamn' recruiting ad ... Puke-o-rama. Cold as it may sound, 'Dumb Jock Dies for Pipeline in Afghanistan' pretty much sums it up."
What is Indymedia? According to its Web site, "Indymedia is a collective of independent media organizations and hundreds of journalists offering grass-roots, non-corporate coverage. Indymedia is a democratic media outlet for the creation of radical, accurate and passionate tellings of truth." Indymedia is made up of leaders in the anti-globalization and anti-war movement, coordinating massive protests. They revel in wild conspiracy theories. They're rabidly anti-capitalist and generally anti-American. In short, they're a bunch of left-wing nuts.
Yet the American left has neglected to excise the Indymedia cancer from its support base. In 2002, the left-leaning Ford Foundation gave Indymedia $50,000. The Tides Foundation has donated $376,000 to Indymedia, according to Frontpagemag.com. Two of the biggest donors to the Tides Foundation? George Soros, who has given over $15 million to Democratic causes during this election cycle, and Teresa Heinz Kerry. Ralph Nader is one of Indymedia's biggest supporters; his group, Public Citizen, is listed as on Indymedia.org as an "ally."
Indymedia is no small-potatoes venture. Aside from its Web sites based in 50 major American markets, it also has Web sites located in five chapters in Africa, 13 in Canada, 39 in Europe, 15 in Latin America, eight in Asia, and nine in Oceania.
The Indymedia list of allies is impressive as well. It lists groups like Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Adbusters, ZNet, the Institute for Public Accuracy, and Corporate Watch.
Largely due to an unceasing hatred for President Bush, the American political left continues to support Indymedia and its ilk. During the MoveOn.org Hitler-Bush ad scandal, liberal pundits largely refused to condemn the ads. Democratic Underground, a site linked on John Kerry's official blog, constantly pushes an extreme leftism often encroaching into paranoid territory.
This latest outrage underscores the leftist community's tolerance for an ugly, radical element. The Pat Tillman insults have been floating around the Web for days; the liberal silence is deafening. Tillman died to protect freedom of speech that doesn't mean anyone should use it to spit on his grave.
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Now, brainless ingrate Rene Gonzalez, a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts, writes at The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, Apr. 28.
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When the death of Pat Tillman occurred, I turned to my friend who was watching the news with me and said, "How much you want to bet they start talking about him as a 'hero' in about two hours?" Of course, my friend did not want to make that bet. He'd lose. In this self-critical incapable nation, nothing but a knee-jerk "He's a hero" response is to be expected.
I've been mystified at the absolute nonsense of being in "awe" of Tillman's "sacrifice" that has been the American response. Mystified, but not surprised. True, it's not everyday that you forgo a $3.6 million contract for joining the military. And, not just the regular army, but the elite Army Rangers. You know he was a real Rambo, who wanted to be in the "real" thick of things. I could tell he was that type of macho guy, from his scowling, beefy face on the CNN pictures. Well, he got his wish. Even Rambo got shot in the third movie, but in real life, you die as a result of being shot. They should call Pat Tillman's army life "Rambo 4: Rambo Attempts to Strike Back at His Former Rambo 3 Taliban Friends, and Gets Killed."
But, does that make him a hero? I guess it's a matter of perspective. For people in the United States, who seem to be unable to admit the stupidity of both the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars, such a trade-off in life standards (if not expectancy) is nothing short of heroic. Obviously, the man must be made of "stronger stuff" to have had decided to "serve" his country rather than take from it. It's the old JFK exhortation to citizen service to the nation, and it seems to strike an emotional chord. So, it's understandable why Americans automatically knee-jerk into hero worship.
However, in my neighborhood in Puerto Rico, Tillman would have been called a "pendejo," an idiot. Tillman, in the absurd belief that he was defending or serving his all-powerful country from a seventh-rate, Third World nation devastated by the previous conflicts it had endured, decided to give up a comfortable life to place himself in a combat situation that cost him his life. This was not "Ramon or Tyrone," who joined the military out of financial necessity, or to have a chance at education. This was a "G.I. Joe" guy who got what was coming to him. That was not heroism, it was prophetic idiocy.
Tillman, probably acting out his nationalist-patriotic fantasies forged in years of exposure to Clint Eastwood and Rambo movies, decided to insert himself into a conflict he didn't need to insert himself into. It wasn't like he was defending the East coast from an invasion of a foreign power. THAT would have been heroic and laudable. What he did was make himself useful to a foreign invading army, and he paid for it. It's hard to say I have any sympathy for his death because I don't feel like his "service" was necessary. He wasn't defending me, nor was he defending the Afghani people. He was acting out his macho, patriotic crap and I guess someone with a bigger gun did him in.
Perhaps it's the old, dreamy American thought process that forces them to put sports greats and "larger than life" sacrificial lambs on the pedestal of heroism, no matter what they've done. After all, the American nation has no other role to play but to be the cheerleaders of the home team; a sad role to have to play during conflicts that suffer from severe legitimacy and credibility problems.
Matters are a little clearer for those living outside the American borders. Tillman got himself killed in a country other than his own without having been forced to go over to that country to kill its people. After all, whether we like them or not, the Taliban is more Afghani than we are. Their resistance is more legitimate than our invasion, regardless of the fact that our social values are probably more enlightened than theirs. For that, he shouldn't be hailed as a hero, he should be used as a poster boy for the dangerous consequences of too much "America is #1," frat boy, propaganda bull. It might just make a regular man irrationally drop $3.6 million to go fight in a conflict that was anything but "self-defense." The same could be said of the unusual belief of 50 percent of the American nation that thinks Saddam Hussein was behind Sept. 11. One must indeed stand in awe of the amazing success of the American propaganda machine. It works wonders.
Al-Qaeda won't be defeated in Afghanistan, even if we did kill all their operatives there. Only through careful and logical changing of the underlying conditions that allow for the ideology to foster will Al-Qaeda be defeated. Ask the Israelis if 50 years of blunt force have eradicated the Palestinian resistance. For that reason, Tillman's service, along with that of thousands of American soldiers, has been wrongly utilized. He did die in vain, because in the years to come, we will realize the irrationality of the War on Terror and the American reaction to Sept. 11. The sad part is that we won't realize it before we send more people like Pat Tillman over to their deaths.
Rene Gonzalez is a UMass graduate student.
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The Blog from the Core asserts Fair Use for non-commercial, non-profit educational purposes.
Both Indymedia and Gonzalez reek of the putrid residue of four decades of Cold-War anti-American communistic agitprop.
P.S. UMass President Jack M. Wilson has responded, Apr. 29:
Thanks to Pat Tillman and the many other men and women who have fought and died for our freedom, Americans enjoy many rights, including the right to speak and write as they see fit. Because of that right, we can voice thoughtful, well-reasoned opinions, but the freedom of speech that we treasure also protects expressions that are odious, wrong-headed and vile.
While I recognize Rene Gonzalez's right of free speech, I must also assert my right of free speech to criticize what he said. The comments of Rene Gonzalez in the April 28 Daily Collegian are a disgusting, arrogant and intellectually immature attack on a human being who died in service to his country. We are fortunate that so many people like Pat Tillman have made the sacrifices necessary to protect the free speech rights of Mr. Gonzalez, myself and our fellow citizens.
It is Mr. Gonzalez's right to be wrong, as he is in this case. It is a right that Pat Tillman and many others have fought to defend. Mr. Gonzalez owes Pat Tillman a debt of gratitude and an apology to the Tillman family and friends.
Good on him.
P.P.S. Gonzalez has, apparently, replied to criticism:
Unfortunately, I cannot respond to the various emails and phone calls I've received. It has been very disconcerting to receive death threats and so much hatred. I hope this email clarifies my views better. Please take this as an honest attempt from someone trying to right a wrong misunderstanding.
Clearing up the misconceptions in the Pat Tillman Article
I wrote an article entitled "Patrick Tillman is not a hero", in which I tried to contradict the American society viewpoint that Pat Tillman was a hero for his service in Afghanistan. I disagree with the conflicts that he took place in, but that's not why I did not think he was a hero. I thought (and still think) that there is an unhealthy tendency in the American public to knee-jerk into hero worship, but instead of persuading people to look at this issue, I just inflamed the hero worship and the situation. Re-reading my words, I did come to the conclusion that my words were inflammatory and tainted the meaning of my article. I do admit I was partly sarcastic on an issue that seems to be dear to a lot of people. I did not write my words with sufficient "political correctness" to make them palatable. For the insensitivity, I apologize.
I mean no disrespect to the family of Patrick Tillman, and I would be very distraught to learn they were hurt by my comments. That was not my intent. My intent was to open up a debate on whether or not serving in the U.S. military is a de facto reason for considering someone a hero. I've been quite bothered by the continued calling of U.S. soldiers as "heroes", especially in conflicts that I find nothing to be proud of.
Regardless of that, I stated clearly that if Pat Tillman had been defending the East coast of the United States from invasion, I would have thought his service to be heroic and laudable. I think the same of soldiers who fought in conflicts like World War II. However, I'm not proud of dishonorable American interventions throughout history (Vietnam, Bay of Pigs, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Haiti, Grenada, Panama, The Phillippines, Iraq 2004), and I adamantly refuse to consider soldiers in those wars, heroes. Every American intervention and every American soldier's action is not automatically heroic, and that was my point. Each case must be examined critically, and I don't feel the American public is undertaking any critical examination of the legitimacy of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, nor the legitimacy of the actions of the troops there.
I did learn one lesson, though: there is freedom of speech in this country, but not much toleration for its expression. Freedom of speech exists only for those that parrot the "party line". For those that even peep a dissent, only scorn is awaiting them.
I hope this letter clears up the misconceptions that have arisen. My criticism was not for Patrick Tillman (who may have been the most honorable man alive) or his family, or even soldiers serving the United States today. It is to the society back home, which seems to be unable to distinguish between honorable American interventions and honorable American soldiers, and soldiers who served in dishonorable interventions and, therefore, dishonored themselves. And, for the reasons outlined above, I cannot support troops that have dishonored themselves by serving in a dishonorable war, and much less consider them heroes.
Rene L. Gonzalez Berrios, M.A.
Hey, Rene. Meet Core's Law of New Media.
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