"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Where Have All The Heroes Gone

Why Casey Sheehan Died. Like many, we have been reluctant to write a post on the Sheehan story. Mike Hill refers to it as the Cindy Sheehan Problem. The fact that it has become the Cindy Sheehan story is instructive. The Sheehan news, as portrayed in the media, isn’t about an American soldier giving his life for his country, a bronze star winner and a hero, it’s about politics.

Don Surber wrote a post entitled Zero Heroes in response to the New York Times' piece Where Are The War Heroes?. The Times attributes the lack of well known military heroes from the war on terror to a complex set of reasons; but in the end blames President Bush and the Pentagon for the media’s “zero heroes” reporting.

The Times article, published on August 7, has a similar theme as our two postings on May 28; however, we reached a different conclusion as to why there are “zero heroes”. In our post, The Heroes of the War on Terrorism, we wrote:

What are the names of the heroes of our war on terrorism - of the wars in Iraqi and Afghanistan? Surely with news available 24/7 we should be able to rattle off a list of names…

And yet most of us can’t think of a single name of a service man or woman, connected to the war on terrorism, that hasn’t been tarnished in the media. Since the media covered the rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch and the death of Army Ranger, Pat Tillman, it’s been nothing but Lynndie England, Charles Graner and the others connected to Abu Ghraib.
Of course the Times article makes sure the names of Lynch and Tillman are tarnished as well:

After the heroic tales of Pfc. Jessica Lynch and Sgt. Pat Tillman were largely debunked - with Private Lynch shown to have never fired a shot during her capture and rescue in Iraq, and Sergeant Tillman killed accidentally by fellow Americans, not the enemy, in Afghanistan - the Pentagon may have grown cautious.
Early reports indicated Sgt. Pat Tillman was killed by enemy fire, but has his sacrifice for his country been debunked? This is how we remember Tillman’s death initially being reported in the media – from MSNBC:

Pat Tillman, who gave up the glamorous life of a professional football star to join the Army Rangers, was remembered as a role model of courage and patriotism Friday after military officials said he had been killed in action in Afghanistan.

“Pat Tillman was an inspiration on and off the football field, as with all who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror. His family is in the thoughts and prayers of President and Mrs. Bush,” Taylor Gross, a spokesman for the White House, said in a statement.
The Times mentions the Medal of Honor was awarded in a White House ceremony in April and the President’s praising of a Mexican immigrant soldier in a radio address and at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in June. Then adds, “but these citations did not occur in prime time, nor have they been repeated.”

Curiously, the media didn’t require a prime time presentation by the President or the Pentagon to tell negative military personnel stories. Again, from our May 28 post:

When the media weren’t fixated on the Abu Ghraib gang, we were blanketed with stories questioning the legitimacy of combat actions by Lt. Col. Allen B. West … and the marine filmed killing a terrorist in the battle of Fallujah; the check point shooting involving Italian reporter Giuliana Sgrena; and Lt. Ilario Pantano who shot two Iraqi terrorists in self defense.

Next we were bombarded with endless reporting and an unbelievable amount of hand wringing about a Koran that was not flushed down the toilet by an American serviceman at Guantanamo Bay.

It didn’t end there though. Sensing another opportunity to create a scandal, the media are working themselves into a lather because military personnel have touched detainee Korans…
Plenty of ink and air time for negative stories, but what about the story of the soldier awarded the Medal of Honor? We wrote:

On April 4, 2005 President Bush presented the Congressional Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the White House. Name the solider that was the recipient - the soldier cited for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty?

If you can’t remember his name, we are not surprised. Go to Time’s [Magazine] website and search their archives for Medal of Honor winner, you won’t find a single story on this hero. Enter Abu Ghraib and you’ll find 107 articles. Enter Guantanamo Bay you’ll have a choice of 148 articles. Search Newsweek’s archives – same result. Medal of Honor winner – no articles on the soldier winning the medal. Abu Ghraib - 140 matches. Guantanamo Bay – 108 articles.

The name you remember - Lynndie England: Time - 8 articles, Newsweek – 9 articles.

The Medal of Honor winner - Sergeant First Class, Paul Ray Smith. Time – 0 articles. Newsweek – 1 article, A War's Rising Toll, in which Paul R Smith was listed among those killed in action.
The New York Times article mentions Sgt Paul R. Smith received the Medial of Honor and even publishes one of the same photos we used in our post - Paul R. Smith – Medal Of Honor Recipient, but doesn’t bother to relate, as the Times would call it, his “heroic tale” or link to the U.S. Army's website devoted to the hero.

No, the media have settled on their hero for the war on terrorism – it’s Cindy Sheehan, a grieving mother who received The Call, not Casey Sheehan, the man that gave his life for his country.

(We highly recommend you read “The Call” on Verifrank, it puts the Cindy Sheehan story into perspective.)


At 10:09 PM, Blogger Sluggo said...

That the Lynch and Tillman stories are thought to be 'debunked' because they don't fit into what the Times is willing to concede is 'heroic' says so much more about the Times than about Lynch or Tillman.

I think 'echo chamber' syndrome, theoretically, should be a greater danger to bloggers than the MSM. And of course, we all surcome to it from time to time. What they don't get is the self-disciplining nature of the blogosphere and, in an increasingly partisan mediasphere, the lack of countervailing opinion. Big media has been frankly liberal for fifty years or so. That's become the baseline. Anything that threatens that is not an attack on a posited opinion or a way of looking at things; it's an attack on the truth. I'm not saying they're wrong, I'm just saying that the day is quickly coming to a close when they can be assumed to be right. That's going to take them awhile to accept.

At 10:28 PM, Blogger Sluggo said...

I meant the next to last sentence to read:

I'm not saying they're always wrong, I'm just saying that the day is quickly coming to a close when they can be assumed to be right.


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