Ariana Huffington asked Scott Kesterson to gather the impressions of soldiers for The Huffington Post. He did it. Personally, I wish that he hadn’t. If he had politely declined, I would have been spared discovering how what appears to be more than half of my country feels about soldiers and our political thought.
This blog has maintained a largely apolitical stance. I do not address those issues, preferring to simply address the issues that I have something unique to add to. Political campaigns have even sought my approval, but I have maintained my stance as best I can. I encourage everyone to vote. If you did not vote when you could have, shame on you. If you give up on the process, you deserve what you get.
That being said, there is a disturbing trend out there that I have addressed before, as when in February of this year Lizette Alvarez of The New York Times posted her second in a series of articles that painted returning veterans as dangerous victims of war, something that is akin to the feeling of having my teeth etched with a razor blade.
Many soldiers have expressed that we do not like being portrayed as victims. It suits a particular agenda to paint us as such. It makes for gripping theater, to be sure. There’s more to it than that, though. This nation has been trying to “support the troops” consciously; to avoid making the same horrible mistake that was made with the treatment of Viet Nam veterans. While to some supporting the troops means bringing us home as quickly as possible whether the job is done or not, there are those for whom discrediting the troops while appearing to support us is really what’s on the agenda. Why would someone do that? I think that the answer to that is complex, because I’m not sure that the motivation is the same for everyone.
For the commenters on The Huffington Post, the answer seems to be that soldiers have become a voice of dissension in the current political climate. They must be crazy, right? The explanations they come up with range from latent Nazism to the effects of military training brainwashing our minds, removing the capacity for independent thought. The vigor with which the the soldiers are attacked for their opinions was stunning.
Why the consistent art (films) portraying warriors as aberrant beings? Why are people sinking millions of dollars into cinematic depictions of soldiers as less than stellar persons?
Hey, I’m open to suggestions. How about some comments on this? What are your ideas as to what their motivations are? Another query; can anyone cite a movie that portrays veterans of the GWOT in a positive light?
What was Lizette Alvarez’s motivation in portraying, in a calculated series of articles, returning veterans as dangerous victims; a bunch of abused children who are actually hazardous to your health to be in proximity to? Her depiction was shown to be false; it turns out that you are actually less likely to be murdered by a war veteran than by a non-veteran. Still, her articles would leave you looking at your own veteran relative out of the corner of your eye, wondering what the telltale sign may be that he was going to snap and viciously attack you with murderous intent.
Some muggings are less stylish. Nick Meo’s character assassination of Easyrider was clumsy and full of easily disproven lies. The thing is that it’s not an isolated event. Meo’s screed was a symptom of a larger illness. Hey, I can recognize Information Operations when I see them. Not all propaganda is government-issue.
I’m not the only one who sees this; evidence this well-written article by Andrew Klavan which appears in City Journal. Klavan, author of several novels (at least one of which has been made into a movie,) sees things from the viewpoint of someone who has been exposed to Hollywood close-up. His point remains that even the movies of today portray soldiers in general and combat veterans in particular as either pawns victimized by a heinous conspiratorial government or as sociopathic rapist-killers (as in DePalma’s recent effort.)
Klavan did a short embed in one of my old stomping grounds; FOB Kalagush in Nuristan. He does a good job of depicting the challenges of the PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Team) in Nuristan, and how spooky Nuristan can be to operate in. This article highlights many things that I would like to address as far as helping to make progress in Afghanistan, but one thing that stands out is his refusal to take the low road dramatically.
Take the time to read his article. It’s a good snapshot of a little-known area and the struggle to make incremental progress there. If he hasn’t been replaced, I knew the Police Chief who is making the mumbled promises to investigate those who ambushed the PRT. The fact is that he hasn’t had mentorship since my team left there. There hasn’t been the manpower to provide it to him. Any progress that we ever made with his district has long since evaporated. With a hostile police chief just up the road in a neighboring district facilitating the anti-government forces, our guy is out in the breeze.
Tomorrow morning we will wake up to Veteran’s Day. I can tell you that reading the comments on HuffPo has taken any muted sense of pride in my veteran status and turned it into a smoldering sense of discontentment with my fellow citizens. The heinous remarks about the men in that little FOB near the Pakistan border, the fact that a political difference can bring out those prejudices, means that the contempt that we are held in is barely concealed.
This is a trend. It’s disturbing to see it happening; it’s sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle. It is becoming acceptable to portray us as an underclass, to hold us in contempt either as idiot victims or as sociopaths. Where is the backlash?
When IO goes uncontested, many will accept it as fact.
There will be a special Veterans Day Show on Blog Talk Radio’s You Served radio show Tuesday, November 11th from 9-11pm. Guests will include two Medal of Honor recipients and the last surviving officer from WW-II’s Marine Combat Team 28. It promises to be a very special show, with veterans of WW-II, Viet Nam, Desert Storm, and the GWOT. You can find it at Blog Talk Radio or download it later from the same site as a podcast. Go see my friend Bouhammer for more details on the guests.