Thursday, November 18, 2004

Thomas Sowell Makes Sense

Thomas Sowell is one of the most featured writers on A Time For Choosing. His articles are always insightful and well written. Today, Mr. Sowell writes about what it means to "support the troops" in light of the media frenzy that has erupted over the video showing a Marine killing a terrorist. As usual, Mr. Sowell makes more sense than most writing or talking about this subject:

During the recent election campaign, it has been a liberal mantra that they "support the troops" while opposing the war in Iraq. Just what does supporting the troops mean -- other than just a throwaway line to escape the political consequences of a long history of being anti-military?

It certainly does not mean making the slightest effort to understand the pressures and dangers of combat, so as to avoid the obscenity of sitting in peace and comfort while second-guessing at leisure some life-and-death decisions that had to be made in a split second by men 10,000 miles away.

The latest example is the now widely-publicized incident in which an American Marine in Iraq shot and killed a wounded terrorist in Fallujah. Chris Matthews on Hardball spoke of "what may be the illegal killing of a wounded, unarmed insurgent" -- the politically correct media term for a terrorist -- and asked: "Is there ever a justification for shooting an unarmed enemy?"

The unreality of this question is breath-taking, both logically and historically. How do you know that someone is unarmed, when finding out can cost you your life? A hand grenade is easily concealed and can kill you just as dead as if you were shot by a machine gun or hit by a nuclear missile.


The media's breathless reporting on the video and their immediate condemnation of the Marine demonstrates one thing,and it is not that the Marine is a "cold blooded murderer", it is that the media elite do not have the slightest understanding of war. Of course no one truly does unless they have fought in combat, and that is the whole point. Why would the media instantly condemn a US Marine for conduct in a situation they have no ability to understand? Why is the benefit of doubt given, in a sense, given to the dead terrorist, and not to the American that has volunteered to travel 10,000 miles to risk his life? How different would the situation have been if people in the media like Chris Matthews had stated that the Marine had to be given the benefit of the doubt, considering the situation? Of course that would never happen, which leads to a bigger question: Why do the elites in the media and academia and yes, in the Democratic party, always make the assumption that the soldiers are in the wrong? Is that what they mean when they say they "support the troops"? Does a cameraman who films such an incident and immediatley gives it, with no other context, to a TV station that broadcasts it around the world with the full knowledge of the effect that the video will have "support the troops"? Does the broadcast network who made it available to Arab media outlets "support the troops"? Do commentators like Chris Matthews and Matt Lauer who condemn the soldier, without knowing the context of the situation, "support the troops"?

The hard answer is no. They pay lip service to it because they have to in order to, As Thomas Sowell stated, "escape the political consequences of a long history of being anti-military". How do we know how they really feel? Because they let thier true feeling slip out in less guarded moments. Chris Matthews for instance, has yet to decide who the "bad guys" really are in Fallujah. Consider this comment made by him just a few days ago:

"Well, let me ask you about this. If this were the other side, and we were watching an enemy soldier --a rival, I mean they're not bad guys especially, just people who just disagree with us, they are in fact the insurgents, fighting us in their country-- if we saw one of them do what we saw our guy do to that guy, would we consider that worthy of a war crimes charge?


(Read more about that statement here.) To Chris Matthews, the terrorists we are fighting in Fallujah aren't "bad guys especially", they just "disagree with us". Given that belief, it is easy to see how Mr. Matthews can immediately condemn the Marine. Mr. Matthews believes that the man the Marine killed "wasn't a bad guy". So if the terrorist is "not a bad guy" and he is killed by a Marine for no reason that is apparent to Chris Matthews sitting in his TV studio, then the Marine is no better than a street thug in America that kills a person for no reason. Context means nothing to Chris Matthews, nor does the fact that the "street thug" is a US Marine fighting in day after day of heavy urban combat.

The media is "neutral". They have no more feeling for the US Marine than they do for the terrorist, they are each combatants in a war that they do not agree with.




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