August 17, 2004

Corporal!!!...Do You Need A Time Out?

Ken sent me an article that he thought would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, I don't have an alley. It's more like a grassy path, but still--this article is right up it.

It's a piece from the NY Daily News about one of the soldiers featured in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. Sgt. Peter Damon says he feels "violated in some way" at being used as fodder for Moore's political agenda.
Damon said he has no regrets about his service with the Army National Guard or doubts about the U.S. mission in Iraq and resents his unwanted link with a film offering a contrary view.
"I'd like to go to the Republican National Convention and speak out about it," Damon said. "I agree with the President 100%. A lot of the guys down at Walter Reed feel the same
way."


Spokespeople for Moore said they had no intention of demeaning U.S. Soldiers in the film. (This, despite some of Moore's earlier comments that seem to imply differently.)

But there's lots of ways to demean. Listen to what Sgt. Damon has to say:
"The whole movie makes soldiers look like a bunch of idiots," Damon said. "I'm not a child. We sent ourselves over there" as volunteers for a cause, he said. "It was all our own doing. I don't appreciate him calling us children."

This is something that I haven't seen many people discuss. This treatment of the soldiers in the film. The idea that they are mindless, that they have no will of their own. That they are "children." That, my friends, is demeaning. Sgt. Damon is 31 years old. Sgt. Michael Pederson--the son of Lila Lipscomb, the mother Moore interviews--is 26. These are men, not children. Moore makes a point of asking congressmen: would you send your child over there? But these are men who make their own decisions. Post 9/11, would you ask the parent of a twenty-something why he let his child live in New York City, when there's a possibility he might be attacked by terrorists there? How about asking a fire chief whether or not he'd "let" his 31 year old son join the department, knowing that the job consists of running into burning buildings? "After all," Moore could say, "this isn't really your fight. Your house isn't the one on fire; there's no threat to you."

Men like Damon have every right to resent the way Moore presents them in the film. He presents them as victims, and uses them like pawns. Think about that for a second. Are there really that many soldiers out there who thought the idea of actual combat was inconceivable when they signed up? Remember what these men and women have to do to get where they are: the exhausting runs, the gruelling physical conditioning, the live fire exercises, the jumping from planes, the survival training, the combat training, over and over until it's instinctual. Hell, these "children" could chew Moore's head off like so much beef jerky.

Moore needs them to appear helpless victims. Reason one is that if they don't, then they must be there because they made up their own minds that it's the right thing to do, and Moore can't have that. The other reason is that he wants to further the Vietnam comparison--It's another quagmire, and young kids are dying. (of course, making no mention that many of those soldiers did not serve voluntarily.) That's it, Mike...take away any meaning their sacrifices had by making them look like sheep. And whatever you do, for God's sake don't tell them that we've overthrown two oppressive regimes in a remarkably short time with a remarkably low casualty rate, and are in the process of making that part of the world a better place--all the kids will want to do it.

2 comments:

  1. “Moore needs them to appear helpless victims. Reason one is that if they don&rsqul;t, then they must be there because they made up their own minds that it’s the right thing to do, and Moore can&rsuo;t have that.”

    It’s very true — but also, I think, a typical denial on the part of many Democrats. Last night I was hanging out with another virulently anti-Bush friend who made some remark about all the people who voted for Bush because they “weren’t thinking,” “didn’t care,” or didn’t know anything about the candidates.

    Sometimes I just want to shake people like her and say, “Do you know how many Americans out there sincerely disagree with you? You don’t even know your countrymen and women that well!”

    I have three siblings in the military, three. They could all to go to Iraq because I’m not in the service and therefore my parents would be guaranteed a sole surviving child. Did they understand what they were getting themselves into? Yes. Did they realize there was a risk of going overseas? Yes. One brother had been considering the military off and on for quite some time; it was just a matter of timing that his commitment only slightly preceded Sept. 11. But the other brother joined up after all of that. My sister doesn’t even completely agree with all the decisions made by Bush as commander-in-chief, but she still fully understands what it is she has committed to, and is incredibly passionate about being a Marine. She takes her responsibilities — as a Marine officer — more seriously and thoughtfully than almost anyone I know.

    But there is a strange mindset about Democrats these days (at least in New York). It has the quality of a religious commitment more fierce than I’ve seen paraded in the public square in a long time. Were Republicans really this mad — and this vocal about it, this scornful of the opposition — when Clinton was in office?

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  2. I think there was quite a bit of Clinton-hating going on, but it never seemed quite as vehement as the anti-Bush crowd seems to be as of late. But I think you're right about the almost-religious fervor that the left has adopted. It's one of the things that has driven me towards the right side of center. The party once so concerned with ideas of freedom and tolerance now protests the removal of one of the most terrible dictators of our time, and has become most intolerant. Just look at the different reactions to the conventions. Where were the massive protests against the Democrats? Why are the Democrats so afraid of what the Republicans have to say that they feel they have to shut the city down? They talk about their right to free speech, and to peaceful assembly, yet their purpose seems to be to keep others from doing that very thing. (And some groups out there have made it all too clear that they don't care if the protests aren't peaceful.) Why are the swift boat veterans consistantly portrayed as tools of the Bush camp while groups like moveon.org are simply concerned citizens, despite direct appeals for their help by John Kerry, somehting Bush has never done with the swifties? I've seen a number of different explanations. One was that the Democrats hate Bush because he stole their issues (millions more no longer pay taxes, education and healthcare legislation have been passed) and they have nothing left. The most they can come up with is the old "Well, we have healthcare/jobs/etc., but it's not 'good' healthcare/jobs/etc." I've read suggestions that the left has such a sense of moral and intelectual superiority that they see any disagreement as a result of someone simply being uninformed, or possibly dumb. It's inconceivable to them that any reasonable person could see the world any other way than the way they (the left) do. Bernard(?) Goldberg touches on that explanation for media bias in his book, Bias, if I'm not mistaken. Whatever the reason, it doesn't come across well.

    Thank you for such a heartfelt and candid post. I wish your siblings the best of luck and a safe return home.

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