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Jewish World Review April 9, 2003/ 7 Nisan, 5763

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker
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Consumer Reports

Saving Private Lynch from an artificial legacy

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | It didn't take long for ideological scavengers to descend on the storyline of rescued POW Jessica Lynch. The spunky girl-soldier who fought with grit and survived was a gift to the surface-skimmers who now will subvert her heroic status to their own political ends.

Already the 19-year-old soldier-clerk is being heralded as incontrovertible proof that women are as capable as men in combat. The fact of her endurance and survival, hooah, provides the missing quotient, they say, in America's perplexing gender equation. Harrumph, harrumph.

Then there's Florida, home of the ironically challenged, where Jessica's name is being used in vain to justify resurrection of the colossally superfluous Equal Rights Amendment. If ever there were a time when the ERA has been proven irrelevant, it is now.

Suffice it to say that Pfc. Jessica Lynch didn't need a constitutional amendment to join the Army, to become a prisoner of war, and now to become an icon for people who before this brief intersection of Fate and Politics wouldn't have given her a nickel bag of Lance's peanuts to go with her Nehi grape.

Wasn't it just a few weeks ago that Hollywood was scouring Lynch's home state of West Virginia in search of an unsophisticated "country" family to ridicule in a reality-TV remake of the Beverly Hillbillies?

In a newsroom minute, the Lynch's clapboard house was converted into a real-time movie set, strung with klieg lights and surrounded with microphones as the media invasion paralleled a Baghdad universe.

While Jessica was rescued from captivity by dauntless comrades, her family was being surrounded and held captive by a friendly nation ravenous for hero chum and news with good legs.

No question about it: Jessica Lynch is a star, a darling young woman who deserves our hearts and admiration. But she is also something else that we fail to note at our peril - not a product of the feminist oligarchy, but the offspring of a traditional American family with a strong father and a big brother who says he'll probably tackle his sister when he sees her.

People who have grown up Southern and country with a father and brother don't need a screenwriter or gender-studies expert to explain how Jessica Lynch survived her ordeal. It had nothing to do with loins girded by feminist dogma. You can bet your satellite dish that Jessica has never studied "The Vagina Monologues" or gone in search of her inner goddess.

Outdoor girls like Jessica often know how to shoot a shotgun and bait their own fishhooks; they can locate water by studying treetops and know how to a tie tourniquet, as well as cut a cross in their own flesh to suck a snake's venom; they've been taught to tell on sight what's poisonous and what's not.

One can reasonably wager that Jessica Lynch can, too.

Having grown up under the tutelage of a brawny brother and an admiring father, she also probably knows how to read a man's eyes, knows when to fight and when to shut down. If she was brave and tough and determined, it is because she had a father who gave her those gifts, which only a father can provide. The same father, incidentally, that the feminist guard, now breast-beating around the ERA campfires, has tried determinedly to eradicate from the American home.

Yes, Jessica Lynch took it like a man - or like a strong girl bred from good American stock. But she never wanted to be a soldier, only a kindergarten teacher. She saw the Army as a means to that end as well as a way out of her impoverished hometown.

While we might applaud her courage in leaving the familiarity of home for an unforeseeable future, we might not want to appropriate Lynch's resume as a recruiting vehicle. The military isn't and should never be construed as a ticket to college or just another career option.

As we have witnessed these past few weeks, it is a mean human machine designed primarily to take the lives of other human beings. If such is not one's taste or inclination - and I suspect they were never Jessica's - then a day job and night classes might be a better route.

Finally, on the matter of women's combat-worthiness, any visitor to the obstetrics ward knows that women are as tough as men. But an environment that puts women unwillingly at the disposal of men is never an argument for equality. It is quite vividly the opposite.

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