Jewish World Review Dec. 2, 2004 / 19 Kislev, 5765
You cannot fight a war without many brave men taking risks with their lives in order to try to accomplish their mission. Yet can you name a single American hero in either of the two wars going on today in Afghanistan and Iraq?
Chances are you can't not if you rely on the mainstream media. You may be able to name someone from the little band of people involved in the prison scandal in Iraq or perhaps Jessica Lynch who was rescued, but not those who rescued her.
There are apparently no heroes among the more than 100,000 men and women fighting for us overseas only victims. At least, that is how the news gets filtered and spun in most of the media.
Any reservist whose life is disrupted by being called to active duty has a good chance of making the front page of the New York Times with his laments. But 99 fellow reservists who are focused on their duty are far less likely to be featured.
Enemy casualties, no matter how large, seldom get as much publicity as even a handful of American casualties. A whole ghoul school of journalism was preparing for the thousandth death among American troops in Iraq, so that they could run big features on it.
The New York Times covered page after page with the names of those thousand dead. The television wing of the ghoul school did similar things in their broadcasts. The rationale for this is that they are "honoring" the dead troops and perhaps showing that the media, too, are patriotically "supporting our troops."
The fraudulence of this can be seen in the fact that Ted Koppel, who sneered at those journalists who wore little American flag lapel pins after 9/11 as people who were "flag waving," has made the display of American dead a feature of "Nightline."
Why is it that the New York Times, which has been against this war from day one, and against the military for decades before that, is spearheading this way of "honoring" our troops? What they are in fact doing is rubbing our noses in the casualties at every opportunity.
People have every right to be for or against this war or any other war. That is what editorial pages, newspaper columns, and radio and TV talk shows are all about. But pretending to be reporting news and "honoring" the troops is dirty business.
While our troops were willing to put their lives on the line to carry out their missions, they did not go overseas for the purpose of dying. Nor have they died without taking a lot more of the enemy with them. Every terrorist killed in Iraq is one that will never come over here to commit another 9/11.
Anyone who was serious about honoring the fallen troops would honor what they accomplished, not just the price they paid. More than 5,000 Marines died taking the one little island of Iwo Jima but they were honored for taking Iwo Jima a wretched little island in itself, but a crucial forward base for supporting the air attacks on Japan that ended World War II.
Those who are busy "honoring" the deaths of American troops in Iraq seldom have much to say about what those troops accomplished. The restoration of electricity, the re-opening of hospitals and schools, and all the other things being done to try to restore a war-devastated country get little attention, and everything that has gone wrong makes the front pages and TV news for weeks on end.
This is the approach that gave the media their biggest triumph and ego boost the discrediting of the war in Vietnam.
More than 50,000 Americans died trying to save that country from Communist attacks. Their achievements included victories on the battlefield that were negated politically by the way the American press reported the war.
In recent years, Vietnam's Communist leaders themselves have admitted that they lost that war on the ground but hung on because the American anti-war movement gave them hope that they could win it politically. It was a well-founded hope that the American media helped make come true when we withdrew both our troops and our financial and political backing for the Vietnamese under attack.
At that time, the media had not yet come up with the gimmick of "honoring" American war dead but they were nevertheless able to throw away the victory for which those men sacrificed their lives.
Will they repeat that heady achievement a second time in Iraq? They certainly seem to be trying. And it is no honor.
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JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author of several books, including his latest, "Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One." (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)
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