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Archive for Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Military service warrants simple respect

July 2, 2008

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I have no idea when reverence fled these shores. That it did, however, seems obvious.

What else can you conclude when the service of military men becomes a routine object of mockery and misinformation in the name of politics? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you John McCain: traitor.

In most quarters, of course, the senator is regarded as anything but. In those quarters, he is a war hero, having survived over five years of beatings, solitary confinement and deprivation in a Vietnamese prison camp, even refusing an offer of early release because it meant leaving fellow prisoners behind.

But John Aravosis, who blogs on Americablog.com, has a different take. In a posting Sunday, he accused McCain of "disloyalty" because at one point, his captors tortured him into reading a propaganda statement.

I submit that John Aravosis would read a statement denouncing his own mother if you beat him long enough. Most of us would. We would trust mom to understand that we acted under duress, that we did what we needed to survive. We would trust that 40 years later, no one would raise this as proof of "disloyalty."

That Aravosis has done precisely that is bizarre, shameful and crude - but not unprecedented.

Indeed, if you were making a movie out of this, you'd call it "Swift Boat II: The Revenge," after the equally bizarre, equally shameful and equally crude 2004 attacks on John Kerry, another senator who was regarded as a war hero. Kerry was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for braving enemy fire while wounded to rescue a Special Forces officer. But that heroism was slimed (Kerry was never under fire, they claim) by people working for the re-election of a president who served in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War and a vice president who dodged service altogether. Delegates at the GOP convention even mocked Kerry's wounds, sporting bandages bearing purple hearts.

Some may feel McCain is simply the gander being served a sauce first tasted by the goose. But it seems to me that something has gone haywire in a nation that forgets how to revere the service of military men and women, political expediencies and affiliations be damned, a nation where a Max Cleland can leave three limbs in Vietnam, yet have his patriotism questioned or a John Murtha can serve as a Marine for 37 years, yet be called a coward.

I make no case for sainthood for those or any other military personnel. I make no case that military service exempts you from criticism, however vigorous and sharp. No, the case I make is for simple respect.

Maybe I am hypersensitive, maybe just old-fashioned by the standards of an era that regards earnestness as a character flaw. Still, it strikes me as viscerally wrong, offensive at the mitochondrial level, to trivialize, demean or diminish, particularly for political gain, a man's service and sacrifice on behalf of his country.

Am I dreaming, or wasn't there once a time that did not need to be said? Where did reverence go? Was it voted off the island on "Survivor"? Did it fail its audition to be the next "American Idol"? Was it not sexy enough for "America's Next Top Model," or ruthless enough for "The Apprentice"? Maybe it just lacked the zazz to survive an era where irony is the preferred prism, irreverence the preferred pose and our lives are so self-referential, so much me me me, that for entertainment we watch ourselves watching ourselves.

We pin flags to our lapels, tack ribbons to our bumpers, and yes, some of us do so in earnestness. But for many of us, I think these are simply props, a means to display what we are supposed to feel but, as children of a shallow, glittery time, are no longer able to. After all, feeling implies reverence.

And reverence doesn't live here anymore.

- Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald.

Comments

repaste 6 years, 7 months ago

" Do not ever try to match wits with a half- wit" Some smart guy wrote that.

repaste 6 years, 7 months ago

scarey people. Watch the name calling RR, kinda third grade. I may be a "little girl" for all you know. Fox news doesnt know that.

dirkleisure 6 years, 7 months ago

Plenty of Republicans have argued that John McCain dishonored his service by his actions once he was out of uniform. He, according to Republican opponents, participated in the denigration of military service, which is very sad. What is more saddening, to those Republicans, is he did it for blatant political purposes.

BigAl 6 years, 7 months ago

RR: You wear your blinders very, very well.

repaste 6 years, 7 months ago

War almost allways = few rich folk and a lotta dead folk. Maybe some wars needed - normal people will never now what really goes on, we only guess.

Satirical 6 years, 7 months ago

Logicsound04..."The difference being that the liberals you name probably weren't championing the war (Vietnam) like a squawking chickenhawk"Yes, it would be in your interest if everyone ignored the fact that JFK got us into Vietnam.

jackie 6 years, 7 months ago

Jon McCain was a Naval aviator flying missions against a country we invaded that had no air force. He cried to Admiral Granddaddy and Vice Admiral Daddy to get him into the Naval Academy to fly jets while men from my background and economic status were being FORCED to endure several weeks of screaming at bootcamp and then given a rifle to fight in some of the worst jungle warfare in US history. Mr. McCain did serve honorably. However, it was by choice and he selected to bomb a country that had no real means of defense against fighter plans. It seems Mr. Mccain chose his poison and suffered the consequences of this choice. at least he had a choice.

BigAl 6 years, 7 months ago

RR: You are correct in that I typed Vietnam as Viet Nam. For some reason I do that all the time. But, I really don't care if you believe me or not but I definitely served. I was active in running medical evacuations primarily out of the Qua Viet River area. Now you sound like others: but, but Clinton!!!I wasn't happy with Clinton's record either but that still doesn't excuse the right wing chickenhawks of today.As far as the loud mouth conservatives vs the loud mouthed liberals, the biggest difference is that these modern day conservatives are much more willing to send in our sons and daughters. I am not much of an Al Franken supporter but at least he isn't selling out our youth. As far as Sean Hannity, Vietnam or not, he well could have enlisted. Just because there isn't a draft, doesn't mean he can't serve our country. As far as that goes, RR, how about yourself? There is no doubt in my mind that Karl Rove was doing his best to smear John McCain. Unless it was Bush himself but I highly doubt that. I also remember Limbaugh absolutely making fun of John McCain. but, but, Clinton.......

repaste 6 years, 7 months ago

Sometimes Mr. pitts is right on, we have no reverence today, . . .

Ann Hamil 6 years, 7 months ago

Wow BK are the whites of your eyes brown? Did you even read this incredibly well written essay? Pitts was making your exact point about the "propaganda film". Turn off Fox, you sound like Hannity on Kerry's record....it would be laughable (reads like satire)if it weren't so darn up is down scarry. Since you know everything, did they put bactine on Max Cleland's severed limbs too?

repaste 6 years, 7 months ago

very special soul, very special! Now the Koreans are terrorists? "initiated the gunfight", our guys were 4,000 miles from home to get some sun?

sfjayhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

RR - what did bush do to during Vietnam?

BigAl 6 years, 7 months ago

By the way, why isn't the so-called liberal media showing returning soldiers that are wounded or worse, KIA?Surely not because the Bush Administration is controlling the media?

dirkleisure 6 years, 7 months ago

How extraordinary.A call for respect for military service is immediately met with two posts ridiculing the military service of a pair of Democrats.The real message is, if you serve in the military and hope for a career in public service you should join the Republican Party.

repaste 6 years, 7 months ago

Restore, you are a very special soul.

Robert bickers 6 years, 7 months ago

"Where did reverence go?" Ask the media. Other than that, I can't really put it any better than those above me.

repaste 6 years, 7 months ago

GW worked on a friend of his dads re-election to the senate. He also had a few beers anddid a little coke. Did Kerry enlist, or get drafted? Chaney? Rumsfeld? He plays basketball 2 times a week, what was his reason for staying home? Well accepted fact, people with money did not go to Vietnam agaist there will. Even Powel called it "shamefull" I think without drugged up Rush or Fox "news" many would not have a word to say.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 7 months ago

"Seems reasonable to believe that the details reviewed have led our military tribunals, which have exonerated those charged, to come to the conclusion that what occurred was NOT a massacre."The dead women, children and elderly are all the evidence needed to know that there was a massacre. In the fog of a war zone, finding evidence required for a prosecution are difficult at best, but somebody did it, and there is plenty of evidence that it was US troops who were responsible. Ultimately, it's the leaders of BushCo, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al, who are guilty of these war crimes."And explain how this is an oil grab when we haven't exported a drop of Iraqi oil? I'm new here, but I'm hoping this type of ignorant posting is not the norm."It would appear to be you who is bringing on yet another dose of willful ignorance.

Jcjayhawk1 6 years, 7 months ago

"........which is why war should always be a last resort, not an ego-stroking grab for oil by a bunch of chicken hawks."When can we expect to see the benefits of the oil we paid such a high price for? (high price being human lives)

Jcjayhawk1 6 years, 7 months ago

If we are to lambast Bush for his mild service during the Vietnam war are the current national guards men valued in the same lack luster way? It just seems that the devaluation of Bush's service may contradict how National Guard is valued today.What is the difference between the two?

Satirical 6 years, 7 months ago

logicsound04...My comments were in reference to tweedle dee and tweedle dumb, not to the author of this article.

repaste 6 years, 7 months ago

Pitts was not picking sides, he say they all deserve respect. Great article.

jaywalker 6 years, 7 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says: The massacre at Haditha can't just be swept under a rug. It happened, even though the details will probably never be fully known. But incidents such as this ALWAYS happen during war, which is why war should always be a last resort, not an ego-stroking grab for oil by a bunch of chicken hawks.Please explain how YOU know the massacre happened even after admitting that the 'details will never be known'? Seems reasonable to believe that the details reviewed have led our military tribunals, which have exonerated those charged, to come to the conclusion that what occurred was NOT a massacre.And explain how this is an oil grab when we haven't exported a drop of Iraqi oil? I'm new here, but I'm hoping this type of ignorant posting is not the norm.

BigAl 6 years, 7 months ago

RR: How is it that you know that Kerry volunteering for swift boats was because he wouldn't see action? I couldn't disagree more. I served in Viet Nam and everyone I know, knows that swift boat duty was definitely combat duty. Period.I totally 100% respect John McCain and his service. He is a true American hero.Karl Rove definitely began a smear campaign against John McCain. Where was the right-wing outrage then?Where is the outrage over Dick (5 deferment) Cheney? The non-service of the loud mouth talking Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, Sean Hannity? I actually heard Bill O'Reilly talk as if his press correspondence service was almost equal to serving in Viet Nam. What a joke.

Rex Russell 6 years, 7 months ago

As a request to all posters: Let's take a different tack here. RestoreReason gets his jollies stirring the pot, insulting people who he disagrees with, and attacking the credibility of anyone who dares to try to discuss a topic civily. He rarely adds anything of quality other than picking a verbal fight. Until his new persona has been booted, let's turn our backs and discuss amoungst ourselves and ignore the postings of the loon in the room.

Satirical 6 years, 7 months ago

All the talk about the value and validity of war records, but the liberals seem to forget that it would in their interest to not discuss this topic since their man for president has no military service. The fact that we are debating McCain's service record trumps having no service record at all.

Brent Garner 6 years, 7 months ago

An interesting editorial, Mr. Pitts. However, you have engaged in an interesting tactic. McCain is being accosted by one who was never there and who has never served. Kerry was accused, whether acurately or not may be open to debate, by some who said they were actually there when the alleged events occurred. Murtha served as a Marine many years ago and, no doubt, served well. However, then he turns around and, for political reasons, calls fellow Marines cold-blooded murderers for their actions at Haditha. It is curious to note that all of the Marines so accused have been cleared. Yes, one Marine futher up the chain is still under scrutiny, but those who were actually on the ground there that day have been cleared. So the question becomes, does military service permit one later to make whatever outrageous claim one wants? I don't think so. As for the accusation of McCain being a traitor for the propaganda film let me share this little tidbit I was taught while a military member and undergoing resistence training in case I was ever captured. I was taught the following: Resist as long as you can, then tell as little as you can, then reset the clock and go again. I think McCain clearly did the best he could under those circumstances and criticism for that event is uncalled for. Now, if you want to go after him over his immigration policies, energy policies, tax policies please feel free.

jaywalker 6 years, 7 months ago

just another idiot says:"The dead women, children and elderly are all the evidence needed to know that there was a massacre. In the fog of a war zone, finding evidence required for a prosecution are difficult at best, but somebody did it, and there is plenty of evidence that it was US troops who were responsible. "Answer the original question. How do YOU know? It is not uncommon for the extreme jihadists to slaughter innocents and then get Al-Jazeera to propagandize the horror as the work of the opposition. It is also a common practice for such cowards to hide behind innocents while attacking, or that such 'innocents' are actually part of the attack, including women, children, and the elderly. The fact is that YOU know nothing about it. And yet you spout that 'there is plenty of evidence that the U.S. military was responsible', even though it's been PROVEN there is not. Are you a savant, clairvoyant, or a child who regurgitates his Gerber mashed peas and calls it apple pie?" It would appear to be you who is bringing on yet another dose of willful ignorance."Again, answer the question. Not much of an 'oil grab' when we've never taken any oil. I think it would be the definition of ignorance to claim this conflict was wholly about oil when all evidence is to the contrary.With that being said, I certainly hope we do get some oil in the future, but it will never come close to equaling the amounts we've spent waging this battle. So if you think we went to war just for oil, sorry to say, you are a moron. Let's see....we can spend billions to fight a war and get pennies on the dollar worth of oil out of it! Fantastic idea! No matter what your view of the current administration, noone is that naive and ignorant, present company excluded.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 7 months ago

The massacre at Haditha can't just be swept under a rug. It happened, even though the details will probably never be fully known. But incidents such as this ALWAYS happen during war, which is why war should always be a last resort, not an ego-stroking grab for oil by a bunch of chicken hawks.

jaywalker 6 years, 7 months ago

Got side-tracked over the idiotic postings of some clown, but I do agree with Pitts on this one. I never could get behind the real truth over Kerry way back when, but I find it disgusting when someone's service is questioned for purely political reasons. Case in point: two days ago Gen.(ret.) Wes Clark belittled McCain's service. Nothing worse when military men attack their own, particularly when this man, Clark, moaned and wailed 4 years ago about the attacks on Kerry's service. Doesn't matter which side of the fence you prefer, hypocrisy is alive and well on both fronts.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 7 months ago

spiderham, Bush was in the Texas Air National Guard, not the Air Force Reserve. But don't let facts get in the way of a cool rant.

BigAl 6 years, 7 months ago

RR: Thank you for your service and I hope the American Legion is doing well. I neglected to point out one other factor. While I was being asked to leave the Legion clubhouse, my brother-in-law was with me. It was around August of 1971 and he still wore bandages from wounds received in Vietnam. He proudly displays a "Wounded in Combat" tag today. I guess we just weren't good enough for the Legion. (by the way, it wasn't a post anywhere in eastern Kansas)As far as proof about Rove vs McCain, the proof is in the fact that it happened. Keep them blinders cinched up tight. but, but Clinton.....

beatrice 6 years, 7 months ago

RR: "Democrats, who may have complete power soon ... Once America gets a good serving of it, Dems will be out again for a decade or two."Funny, since you just described exactly what is happening to the Republicans in the coming election. Let us hope that they remain gone for a decade or two. From the looks of this thread, John Kerry is now running against John McCain for President. I wonder which traitor will win.

Kontum1972 6 years, 7 months ago

JFK was a war hero with PT 109, Roger Donlon was a war hero (RVN). Getting shot down does not make u a war hero,....and being captured does not make u a war hero, escaping with your fellow POWs would make u a hero.I was shot down 3 times...with my aircrew..and we avoided capture, but i am not a hero...the real heroes are on "The Wall" in Washington DC., and the Iwo Jima Marines, and the D-Day guys...who are still buried in Normandy....those are the real heroes. The first priority of a POW --escape!

beatrice 6 years, 7 months ago

Sorry about the incorrect attribution RR. It was Mr.Nancy who wrote that. Republicans (many of whom never served in the military) wore pink band-aids at the Republican National Convention in 2004 in mockery of soldiers wounded while in service. That was disgusting. Now, some goofball is attacking McCain for his having been tortured while serving in the military. That, too, is disgusting. Where I see the difference is that many, many Republicans supported the pink band-aid campaign, while very few Democrats will support this singular loon, John Aravosis. Seriously, has anyone ever heard of Aravosis before this? I certainly haven't. Now that I have, I wish I hadn't. He is a Karl Rove type who will say anything and do anything in an attempt to have his "side" win, forgetting, of course, that the "side" in question should be "our side," meaning America.

BigAl 6 years, 7 months ago

And while I am at it, RestoreReason, I became a Democrat when I returned from Vietnam. I was sitting at an American Legion clubhouse and was told by a rightwing Republican that I wasn't wanted in their little organization.Just one of the many indiginities we put up with.

Brent Garner 6 years, 7 months ago

goodcitizen It is apparent that you did not accurately read my posting. I did not accuse Mr. Kerry of anything. I said:"Kerry was accused, whether acurately or not may be open to debate, by some who said they were actually there when the alleged events occurred."If you had read that carefully you would have seen that I was not attacking Mr. Kerry but pointing out the background of his accusers. Yes, I did take a shot at Mr. Murtha, but so has a military court by using the term "command influence" in reference to the investigations into the Haditha situation. That term means that the investigation was contaminated by a person or persons who sought to influence the outcome of the investigation. In court papers filed in the Haditha Marine trials, Murtha, as an elected member of the House, was accused of "command influence" in the investigations. For the record, at least one of the now exonerated Haditha Marines is exploring legal action against Murtha for his defamatory comments. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.As for Max Cleland, since I know nothing about that individual I specifically avoided referencing him, so your defamatory accusation against me is baseless.Finally, my objection to Mr. Pitts is that he is attempting to assign moral equivalence between various examples of military service. While military service should be respected, it cannot be argued that miltary service grants one a blanket exemption for ever having that service and subsequent actions re-examined. Mr. Kerry and Mr. Murtha dishonored their service by their actions once they were out of uniform. They, in essence, participated in the denigration of military service, which is very sad. What is more saddening is that they did it for blatant political purposes.

Rex Russell 6 years, 7 months ago

I grew up a Navy brat in the 60's-70's. Newport News, Va., Corpus Christi, Tx, San Diego. My father was stationed on a carrier . He took many a 18-20 year over to combat. Took way to many of them home back to San Diego in a body bag. Many of the guys who saw too much, questioned the logic of what happened there. Same as today. Didn't make them cowards or thier service less honorable. I honor and respect the job my father did. I honor and respect the job the current soldiers are doing. It's a tough job. I can also disagree with the reasons they have to be there doing that job. I can easily separate the two. Sometimes, some peoples' distaste for the war in Iraq and thier personal / political feelings spill over to the service people. Unfortunate. Come home soon.

Satirical 6 years, 7 months ago

logicsound....This article, and subsequent discussion were about the use of one's military service, specifically in the context of a Presidential race. His examples were of two Presidential candidates (McCain and Kerry), and the attacks on service record of each (however he "somehow" failed to include that partisan attacks on Bush's military record).

Satirical 6 years, 7 months ago

One thing I really like is when people choose to comment on the tail end of a discussion and make a counter argument to a point that you are not arguing, in a belief they have refuted your original argument.

Satirical 6 years, 7 months ago

Max1:By stating JKF got us into Vietnam I was not claiming that he was the first U.S. President to have any connection the Vietnam war. What I meant by "got us into" is that he was the first President to significantly escalate U.S. involvement in Vietnam. See "John F. Kennedy's Escalation of the War, 19601963"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_... for clarification my original post was in reference to logicsound04's argument that liberals weren't championing the Vietnam War "like a squawking chickenhawk", which JKF clearly did. He was also involved in the Pay of Bigs fiasco if you remember.

Satirical 6 years, 7 months ago

Logicsound:"Having a hard time seeing how that makes any sense."Let me make it simple for you; I was questioning why liberals on this post would want to discuss McCain's war record, and any Presidential candidate's war record for that matter, when their nominee for President never served in the military. The fact the McCain served and Obama didn't is a plus for McCain, regardless of how significant his service to our country was. So if you want to continue to discuss something is a perceived advantage for McCain, then by all means. I realize Obama, was never part of the discussion which is why I chose to include him in it; since the Presidential election certainly was part of the discussion it seems only fair to discuss both candidates.

Jason Bowers-Chaika 6 years, 7 months ago

What else can you conclude when the service of military men becomes a routine object of mockery and misinformation in the name of politics? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you John McCain: traitor.The continuation of Don't Ask Don't Tell also is accurately discribed by the quote above.www.KansasEqualityCoalition.org

Rationalanimal 6 years, 7 months ago

re the 11:33 p.m. postso much for leaving politics out of the military.

RobertMarble 6 years, 7 months ago

If Pitts or anyone else isn't a veteran- then they've got no legitimate input here.

Bob Harvey 6 years, 7 months ago

Big Al, my political leanings have no relevance to this post. So just let me say to you what should have been said when we came back..."Welcome Home".

Satirical 6 years, 7 months ago

logicsound..."So you're saying Aravosis is an idiot for bringing up McCain at all, even if it was to trash his service to our country?"Exactly

Brent Garner 6 years, 7 months ago

dirkleisureOK. You can cut and paste and even do some editing. Would you now care to elaborate on the allegation you raise that Republicans claim John McCain dishonored his service? This is one I have not heard before.

Satirical 6 years, 7 months ago

Logicsound:You are absolutely right. Simply because someone starts an article discussing the recent attacks on McCain's service records, and continues this context of attacks on Presidential candidates' service record for over half the article, is insignificant compared to the single sentence mentioning Max Cleland and John Murtha. The presidential race is much more than background; it is a context and an emphasis that these attacks against McCain should stop (even if you are a democrat). I realize and agree with you what his overall message was in reference to politics in general, but his focus was clearly on the Presidential election not in emphasizing Cleland or Murtha, as illustrated by the majority of the article. He uses Cleland and Murtha simply to demonstrate that this general rule doesn't only apply to Presidential politics; but again Presidential politics is clearly what he focused much of his article on.Regardless, my main point, which you ignore, still holds true; the dems would be better off not discussing military service at all since their candidate is seriously lacking in that resume feature (and many others).

Orwell 6 years, 7 months ago

Jaywalker:Please provide us the quote in which "Gen.(ret.) Wes Clark belittled McCain's service."In the interview I watched, Clark answered a direct question by saying just getting shot down doesn't qualify one to be President of the United States. Are you saying getting shot down IS sufficient qualification to be President, and that thinking otherwise is inherently "belittling [someone's] service?"

Rationalanimal 6 years, 7 months ago

"And reverence doesn't live here anymore."Thanks to members of a systematic and conserted media effort to chip, chip, chip, chip away at heart of America. Pitts is no dumby here. After he and others that hate traditional America have been cutting at the heart of traditional America for 50 years, his next move is to champion the patriotism of Barrack Milhous Hussein Obama. After creating a vacuum of patriotism, Pitts and others like him wish to fill the void they have created with Marxism. Cause the people to forget and write on a fresh slate.There are those of us who haven't forgotten Pitts, and you are no Norman Rockwell on Americana.

Satirical 6 years, 7 months ago

Max1:Are you seriously denying that JFK played a major role in getting us into Vietnam?

Satirical 6 years, 7 months ago

"How much have you had to drink this morning, satirical?"Beore I got to work or since I arrived?I am not stating your particular argument hurt's Obama. I am saying any argument in the context of the Presidential election discussing McCain's service does not help Obama, because he lacks said service.

TopJayhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

Welcome aboard Jaywalker. Yes, sadly this is typical.. It does not matter what the subject. Within twenty posts it is liberal vs. conservative. You will hear the "progressive" say a lot of sadly funny things that border on the absurd. My all time favorite so far read on this blog. Is..."Iran was not even a problem untill GWB became president." I'm still trying to figure that one out. But welcome.

Satirical 6 years, 7 months ago

logicsound04..."I'm not going to refrain from discussing a subject simply because it doesn't favor a political candidate that I support."I am not stating you are required to refrain, I am saying it is inconsistent to both support a candidate and take actions that would undermine his election (focusing on candidate's military records, thereby emphasizing Obama's lack of experience and ability to be Commander and Chief)

RobertMarble 6 years, 6 months ago

"gayokay (Anonymous) says: What else can you conclude when the service of military men becomes a routine object of mockery and misinformation in the name of politics?"An obvious fabrication. It's only a mockery to leftists and those with an axe to grind. To rational people, military service remains an highly respected and honorable calling.

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