Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Phony Soldier" Debate Ignores Service, Disguises Other Problems

A soldier I know who served in Iraq, and remains quite indifferent to the war, asked me one day, “have you ever noticed how those vets now opposed to the war never left the base they were on, they were some clerk or something, but never left their base?”

I didn’t think it was a fair statement, and have ruminated over it on several occasions.

He made that comment long before the whole “Phony Soldier, Rush Limbaugh” thing blew up.

I should ask him what he thinks now, because the soldier who is on the television ads calling out Rush, the one who suffered traumatic brain injury, is evidence that not all vets against the war stayed behind a desk in Iraq.

The reality is, all of us who’ve served have earned the right to take a stand on the war: for, against, or indifferent. All who served have earned the right of respect from that service. Whether we agree or disagree with each other matters not, because all of us have “been there, done that.”

Every American has the right to their opinion on the war as well. All of us, for and against and indifferent to the war, fight to insure our fellow citizens retain that right, whether we agree with their opinions or not. We serve unconditionally.

Jesse MacBeth, whom Rush referred to, who couldn’t even make it through boot camp, but then had the audacity to belittle the service of others through horrific tall tales, also has the right to an opinion (not to contrive stories), but should know he’s on very thin ice when sharing it.

His tales of atrocities not only demean the service of all, but they also make the jobs of those still fighting even more difficult. His stories help fuel the fire for Islamic Jihadists. They are a recruiting tool, encouraging others to kill America’s finest.

He is worthy of the title “phony soldier” and all the shame, venom, and disrespect the label is intended to carry.

Those who willingly prop he and his stories up in their deliberate attempts to attack, conspicuously or inconspicuously, the service of our troops are only one rung up the ladder of disgust from him. They are complicit in making the jobs of our troops more difficult.

Sadly, while the national debate rages about what was said or not said, several things have been lost along the way.

First, we stopped talking about the war and the best ways to move forward against terrorists. There are still extremists who want all of us, regardless of status or opinion, dead. There is still a war to be won; something much more important than discussing those sitting on the sidelines.

Second, we continued to ignore the valiant efforts of those who’ve fought for us. Instead of talking about true heroes, we were talking about a phony soldier.

More than 180 of our troops have earned our nation’s highest commendations for valor in the fight against terrorists. There are countless others who have made a difference to those they served alongside, to the Iraqi and Afghani peoples, and the security of this nation. We should be talking about them.

Third, our Senate took yet another step away from the great body it once was. Instead of acting as the greatest deliberative body in the world, the Senate continued its descent toward becoming a debilitated body. Only the Nebraska Cornhusker football team is falling farther and faster than they.

Officially attacking the cloudy comments of a citizen, albeit one with a large audience, and demanding action against him, is so very far from what our founders intended and from what this country needs from our Senate.

Lastly, the credibility of our national media eroded even further after taking up the spin and talking points of a group designated specifically to the task of contorting the media to its agenda, reporting it as hard news.

Our national media was gullible and biased enough to take a direct feed from one of several incredibly biased, far-left attack groups and run with it: hook, line, and sinker. No apparent research, no balance, no debate, no objectivity, just plain and simple ideology and incompetence.

To see this cornerstone of democracy crumbling as it is, is truly disconcerting.

Although we all serve unconditionally, isn’t it right for us to ask, “Are these crumbling, eroding pillars of our government, national identity, and democracy what we fight for?”

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