It's been done.

First of all, this post is not about the coal plant. That fact alone should be worth a sigh of relief.

I have read, usually in newspapers, that the job of a journalist is to spur discussion. That somewhat arrogant comment is most often found after the writer sticks his foot in his mouth.

Speaking of which, you really should read the column of William M. Arkin, in the Washington Post. Oh yes, he has spurred discussion alright. So much that the Washington Post website has stopped comments on his piece.

"What," you ask, "could be so horrible? Or at least interesting?" Well, Mr. Arkin used his piece as an opportunity to take a broad shot at the 'American military' whose criticism of the 'American people' apparently did not sit well with him.

I have neither the inclination nor the time to deconstruct his piece line by line. And, as the title of this piece states, one need only follow the link and read a small percentage of the 900+ comments to see that others have done it for me.

I want, instead, to focus on a couple of points that I believe can be gleaned from his writing. First, while he makes the superficial point of supporting their right to speak, it is clear that 'Mr.' Arkin does not think much of the First Amendment rights of those in the military with whom he disagrees:

I'm all for everyone expressing their opinion, even those who wear the uniform of the United States Army. But I also hope that military commanders took the soldiers aside after the story and explained to them why it wasn't for them to disapprove of the American people.
What? It's not "for them" to disapprove of contrary opinions? Why not, 'Mr.' Arkin, why isn't it "for them?' Are you so cozy in your righteous cocoon that you need brook no disagreement with what you, after all, know the American people believe?

Then he drifts into some imagined parable where the American military conducts a coup to, apparently, finish the war on terror over the objections of the pacifist American public:
I can imagine some post-9/11 moment, when the American people say enough already with the wars against terrorism and those in the national security establishment feel these same frustrations. In my little parable, those in leadership positions shake their heads that the people don't get it, that they don't understand that the threat from terrorism, while difficult to defeat, demands commitment and sacrifice and is very real because it is so shadowy, that the very survival of the United States is at stake. Those Hoovers and Nixons will use these kids in uniform as their soldiers. If it weren't about the United States, I'd say the story would end with a military coup where those in the know, and those with fire in their bellies, would save the nation from the people.
Obviously, the Iraq war is a source of legitimate discussion and debate, but to suggest that our young soldiers in the Middle East should shut up and be thankful they're not "spit upon" is really somewhat depraved. Are the soldiers entitled to some reverence in our society even if we disagree with the conflict in which they are engaged?

Yes. They are.


The Raving Norseman said...

I marvel at the approach of the anti-war intelligentsia: spend a couple of years declaring that pro-war folks who aren't actually over there serving should shut their yaps, then switch gears and start declaring that those who are over there and support the war should shut their yaps. In the end, they're really saying you should only speak up if you agree with them.

Big Sky Husker said...

Another left wing stooge with crayons.